Bartender was acquired and neither the original programmer nor the new owner informed about it. Since the app requires extensive permissions to perform its service, including screen recording, and the communication about the sale apparently went rather catastrophically1, many users are somehow concerned and are looking for an alternative. Fortunately, there are some, but I have not dealt with them much, as I have been using Bartender since its initial release many years ago.

So far, I have come across the following apps, which can now be looked at more closely with regard to their privacy policy and, of course, their suitability as a replacement:2

  • Vanilla - Hide Mac menu bar icons for free,
  • Ice - Powerful menu bar manager for macOS3,
  • ‎iBar - Menubar icon control tool,
  • ‎Barbee - Hide Menu Bar Items,
  • Hidden Bar - An ultra-light MacOS utility that helps hide menu bar icons (also on MAS), and
  • OnlySwitch.

Which one are you using?

Most people seem to be very happy with Hidden Bar and Ice, both FOSS. And there is now an official (?4) response from Bartender’s original developer Ben Surtees you can read here or here. And another statement from the new owners was published on their blog as well.


Updates

  • 2024-06-07: added footnote 4
  • 2024-06-06: added update above and a link to Michael Tsai in footnote 1 😎
  • 2024-06-05: added OnlySwitch, thanks to Marcus, link to the github version of Hidden Bar, and link to AppleInsider
  • 2024-06-13: added link to new developer statement

  1. There is only one small note on their support page informing about a certificate change. The full extent of this has been very nicely summarised on AppleInsider. You can read some more responses to this whole saga on Michael Tsai’s blog↩︎

  2. Alternatively, one can potentially revert to a Bartender version prior to the sale (5.0.48) and additionally block its connections to the internet, e.g., via Little Snitch↩︎

  3. That’s the one I just started using without any particular reason and it works just great so far. ↩︎

  4. Of course, there are already speculations that the texts were not written by him and were created by ChatGPT. ↩︎