- 4.6. Menulets: The Missing Manual
See the menu-bar icons in Figure 4-9? Apple calls them Menu Extras, but Mac fans on
the Internet have named them menulets. Each is both an indicator and a menu that
provides direct access to certain settings in System Preferences. One lets you adjust your
Mac's speaker volume; another lets you change the screen resolution; yet another shows
you the remaining power in your laptop battery; and so on.
Figure 4-9. These little guys are the direct descendants of the controls once found on
the Mac OS 9 Control Strip or the Windows system
To summon the various menulets, you generally visit a certain pane of System
Preferences (Section 4.5.1) and turn on a checkbox called, for example, "Show volume in
menu bar." Here's a rundown of the various Apple menulets that you may encounter,
complete with instructions on where to find this magic on/off checkbox for each:
Tip: The following descriptions indicate the official, authorized steps for installing a
menulet. There is, however, a folder on your hard drive that contains 25 of them in a
single window, so that you can install one with a quick double-click. To find them, open
your hard drive System Library CoreServices Menu Extras folder.
• AirPort lets you turn your AirPort card on or off, join existing AirPort wireless
networks, and create your own private ones. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open
System Preferences Network. From the "Show" pop-up menu, choose
• Battery shows how much power remains in your laptop's battery. To find the
"Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences Energy Saver Options tab.
• Bluetooth connects to Bluetooth devices, "pairs" your Mac with a cellphone, and
so on. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences Bluetooth. The
"Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar" checkbox appears at the bottom of the
- • Clock is the standard menu-bar clock that's been sitting at the upper-right corner of
your screen from Day 1. Click it to open a menu where you can check today's date,
convert the menu-bar display to a tiny analog clock, and so on. To find the "Show"
checkbox: Open System Preferences Date & Time. On the Clock tab, turn on
"Show the date and time."
• Displays adjusts screen resolution. On Macs with a projector or second monitor
attached, it lets you turn screen mirroring on or off—a tremendous convenience to
anyone who gives PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. To find the "Show"
checkbox: Open System Preferences Displays Display tab.
• is the oddball: There's no checkbox in System Preferences to make this
menulet appear. The fact that it even exists is something of a secret.
To make it appear, open your System Library CoreServices Menu
Extras folder as described above, and double-click the Eject.menu icon. That's it!
The menulet appears.
You'll discover that its wording changes: "Open Combo Drive," "Close DVD-
ROM Drive," "Eject [Name of Disc]," or whatever, to reflect your particular drive
type and what's in it at the moment.
• Fax reveals the current status of a fax you're sending or receiving, so you're not
kept in suspense. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences
Print & Fax, and then click Faxing.
• HomeSync is useful only if some friendly neighborhood network administrator has
set up Mac OS X Server at your office.
Thanks to a feature called portable Home folders, you can take your laptop on the road
and do work—and then, on your return, have the changes synced automatically to your
main machine at work over the network. Or not automatically; this menulet's Sync Home
Now command performs this synchronization on demand.
• iChat is a quick way to let the world know, via iChat and the Internet (Section
184.108.40.206), that you're away from your keyboard, or available and ready to chat. Via
the Buddy List command, it's also a quick way to open iChat itself. To find the
"Show" checkbox: Open iChat; it's in your Applications folder. Choose iChat
Preferences, click the General button, and turn on "Show status in menu bar."
• Inkturns the Write Anywhere feature on and off as you use your graphics tablet.
(That may not mean much to you until you've read about the Ink feature, described
- on Section 15.6.6.) To find the "Show" checkbox: Open the Ink panel of System
Preferences. Even so, the menulet doesn't appear unless a graphics tablet is
• IrDAis useful only to ancient PowerBooks that have infrared transmitters—if
indeed any of them can even run Leopard. This menulet is known for flakiness;
you're best off not installing this.
• Keychain. This menulet isn't represented by an icon in the Menu Extras folder, but
it's still useful if you use Leopard's Keychain feature (Section 220.127.116.11). The
menulet lets you do things like opening the Security pane of System Preferences
and locking a Keychain. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open your Applications
Utilities folder. Open the Keychain Access program, and then open the
Keychain Access Preferences General tab.
• PCCard ejects a PC card that you've inserted into the slot in your laptop, if it has
such a slot. To make it appear, open your System Library CoreServices
Menu Extras folder, and then double-click the PCCard.menu icon.
• PPP lets you connect or disconnect from the Internet. To find the "Show"
checkbox: Open System Preferences Network. From the "Show" pop-up
menu, choose Internal Modem. Click the Modem tab button.
• PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) lets you control certain kinds of DSL connections. To
find the "Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences Network. From the
"Show" pop-up menu, choose Built-in Ethernet. Click the PPPoE tab button.
• Remote Desktop is a program, sold separately, that lets teachersor system
administrators tap into your Mac from across the network. In fact, they can
actually see what's on your screen, move the cursoraround, and soon. The menulet
lets you do things like turning remote control on and off or sending a message to
the administrator. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences
Sharing, and then click Apple Remote Desktop.
• Script menu lists a variety of useful, ready-to-run AppleScript programs (see
Section 7.5.1). To find the "Show" checkbox: Open your Applications folder, and
then open the program called AppleScript Utility.
• Syncis useful only if you have a .Mac account (Section 18.6)—but in that case, it's
very handy. It lets you start and stop the synchronization of your Mac's Web
bookmarks, calendar, address book, Keychains, and email with another Mac
across the Internet, and it always lets you know the date of your last sync.
(Syncing is described in more detail in Chapter 19.) To find the "Show" checkbox:
Open System Preferences . Mac, and then click Sync.
- • TextInput (officially named the Input Menu) makes it easy for you to switch
among different text input modes . You're probably most familiar with the normal
keyboard. But what if your language uses a different alphabet, like Russian, or
thousands of characters, like Chinese? This menulet summons and dismisses the
alternative keyboards and input methods needed for these other systems. Details
on Section 9.13.3. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences
International. Click the Input Menu tab.
Note: You also use this menulet when you're trying to figure out how to type a
certain symbol like ¥ or § or . You use the menulet to open the Character
Palette and Keyboard Viewer—two great character-finding tools that are described
in Section 4.5.1.
• UniversalAccess, new in Leopard, offers simple on/off status indicators for
features that are designed to help with visual, hearing, and muscle impairments.
Section 4.5.1 has a rundown of what they do. To find the "Show" checkbox: Open
System Preferences Universal Access.
• User identifies the account holder (Chapter 12) who's logged in at the moment. To
make this menulet appear (in bold, at the far right end of the menu bar), turn on
fast user switching, which is described on Section 12.8.
• Verizon starts and stops your laptop's connection to the Internet via Broadband
Access, Verizon's glorious high-speed cellularservice (meaning you can get online
almost anywhere—no Wi-Fi required). This service requires a BroadbandAccess
PC card, ExpressCard, or external USB thingie from Verizon. Just slip said device
into your laptop—and pay $60 a month.
• Volume, of course, adjusts your Mac's speaker or headphone volume. To find the
"Show" checkbox: Open System Preferences Sound.
• VPNstands for virtual private networking, which allows you to tap into a
corporation's network so you can, for example, check your work email from home.
You can use the menulet to connect and disconnect, for example. To find the
"Show" checkbox: Open the program called Internet Connect (in your
Applications folder). Click the VPN button.
- To remove a menulet, -drag it off of your menu bar, or turn off the corresponding
checkbox in System Preferences. You can also rearrange them by -dragging them
These little guys are useful, good-looking, and respectful of your screen space. The world
could use more inventions like menulets.