My Mac life is getting crowded. The first place is iTunes. Is there a more crowded app on the Mac than iTunes?
Look what’s going on. Music, movies, TV shows, iPhone apps, now iPad apps. Millions of songs, thousands of movies and shows, tens of thousands of apps. It’s a busy place. The second place is my Mac’s Menubar. My Mac’s screen isn’t wide enough to handle all the tools in the Menubar.
Menubar Madness Plus iTunes
Apple needs to address the problems with putting tools and apps in the Menubar. It’s like Black Friday at Walmart up there. Even worse is my attempt to control the madness of iTunes by yet another Menubar utility.
The Mac app Synergy puts iTunes at your fingertips. And in the Menubar.
I like using Synergy because it helps me use iTunes, gives me last.fm integration, puts handy controls in the Menubar, digs through Amazon for album artwork, and gives added functionality for controlling iTunes.
The problem is Synergy’s global menu, which takes up yet another slot in the Mac’s Menubar with a pull down menu of handy iTunes controls.
This method of adding functionality to your Mac is becoming commonplace, but OS X doesn’t have the screen space to handle all the apps we’d like to stuff into the Menubar.
I liken it to the salt or high fructose corn syrup we find in everyday foods. Individually in a meal serving, neither will cause a problem. Collectively, in many meals, day after day, both can cause severe problems.
So it is with apps the populate the Mac’s Menubar. The functionality is great, but collectively they suck up a lot of screen space, and tend to disappear when too many show up for duty.
Back to Synergy. The pull down menu (from the Menubar) gives you more control over iTunes without having to switch over to iTunes and dig through the already crowded iTunes interface. Synergy has a nifty floating, somewhat transparent window which displays album art, star ratings, time, artist and song.
Wait. There’s more. Much more. While striving for simplicity and elegance to control the complexity of iTunes, we crowd the Menubar and the memory banks with even more controls.
Synergy’s preferences give you hot keys control over everything you can think of that needs controlling except the extra controls themselves. Who can remember all those keyboard shortcuts. I need another Menubar control to remember them.
See the problem? The Menubar preferences can be adjusted to display only when iTunes is running (my recommendation), but can also control button spacing from tight to wide, and gives options to include Playlist submenus and the iTunes submenu, along with a variety of button styles for the Menubar controls.
I like Synergy. It works well, gives me access to iTunes without having to dig through iTunes, and provides more controls than I need or could remember anyway. More is better, right?
Except for that Menubar real estate shortage.
Note to Mac app developers. Give your Menubar utility the option to run elsewhere on the Mac in some sort of standalone mode that can be invoked with a keystroke or click.
Otherwise, you run the risk of competing for terribly limited space in a crowded Mac Menubar.
Note to Apple. Do something about the overcrowded conditions of the Mac’s Menubar. Tabs would be nice. Some kind of official, context sensitive, or prioritized control system for Menubar apps would be nice.