Hold down the Option key to unlock Mac’s hidden menu bar

The Option key (sometimes marked with ⌥ on your Mac keyboard) gives you additional options whether you use the keyboard or the mouse. Hold down the mouse button while dragging a file, for example, and a duplicate of that file will be created instead of just being moved. The selection key works everywhere – even in the menus. Today we’re going to see what happens when you click the Options button in the status menu icons on the right side of the Mac toolbar. Bluetooth widgets, volume, WiFi, Time Machine and Notification Center to be precise.

Clicking these icons gives you much better control over some of the basic features of your Mac. You will be surprised what you can do up there.

Hidden Mac menu bar options

To use these tips, simply hold down the Option key while clicking one of the status icons. In this case, another menu is displayed (or at least an extended version of the standard menu). You will see additional options in these new menus.

The exception to this is the notification center icon, which takes action immediately when you click Options. We’ll start with that and then go through the hidden features of other Mac status menus in turn.

message Center

Option-holding the Notification Center icon on the far right of the Mac menu bar puts your notifications in Do Not Disturb mode. This is exactly the same function as opening the notification center and switching the DND button on For sure, The symbol will turn gray until tomorrow when it is back to normal.

Bluetooth

Usually click the icon on the Bluetooth menu bar and you will see a list of paired devices that you can click to connect or disconnect. However, if you click the Options button on the Bluetooth icon, you will get a detailed overview. You’ll see the appropriate name and address for your Mac’s Bluetooth radio, as well as options to browse and send files to devices, and more.

volume

Option-click the volume icon to pass the audio to your Mac.

A normal click on the volume icon shows you the available output devices on your Mac, so you can see where your audio should be played. Option-clicking the volume icon also displays a list of available input devices, including AirPlay devices. It’s a quick way to switch the inputs and outputs for the main system audio system.

Wireless

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Option-click the WiFi status menu to see many additional options.

Wi-Fi offers the largest menu, if only because it displays a list of all the networks available in your immediate area. Click Tools on the Wi-Fi menu option to view additional details about your current Wi-Fi network, from its name and channel to signal strength and noise. You can also click new menu items to activate various logging and diagnostic tools that can come in handy when troubleshooting Wi-Fi problems.

time Machine

Time Machine also offers practical options.

The only change when you hold down the Option key and click the Time Machine menu is that you can browse backup media other than the default media. This is useful if you are backing up to multiple Time Machine volumes or have an old backup attached.

Third-party Mac menu bar icons

Take a moment and Option-click all items on your Mac’s menu bar. Some status menus for third-party applications no longer offer anything, while others offer a lot. For example, Dropbox shows you a completely different status menu that replaces the standard window that is normally displayed.

Have fun exploring.

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