How many ways do we really need to check out what’s running on our Macs? It would seem that the desire to know the status of everything cannot be quenched. First, there’s the Dock in OS X. It doesn’t take long to make it crowded. Then, there’s Dashboard Widgets. Even on a big screen Mac, Widgets run out of space. Finally, what about the Mac’s Menu Bar? The first frontier is also the last frontier and mine is more crowded than ever.
I don’t mind the Dock. I keep most of my Apple applications and utilities in my Dock, along with a few others that I use regularly.
The Dock can be handy, and gives decent visual cues about email, application status, and what’s in what folders. It could be improved, yes. But it’s priced right.
Ditto for Dashboard Widgets. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Widgets are handy, quick to invoke, always ready to give us an idea of what’s going inside the Mac, or to check on iCal or weather or stocks.
What’s really bad about these Mac places where we can store icons and status utilities and applications we seldom use, is a Mac version of Parkinson’s Law, ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’
A Mac user version would be modified to match the 21st century, ‘Utilities and applications increase so as to fill the space available and then some.’
You get the idea, right? We have space for do dads and do hickeys so we find ways to use the space, whether what we fill the space with is worthy or not.
Take my Mac’s Menu Bar. The Dock is full already. My Dashboard can’t hold any more Widgets.
Now I’m forced to go looking for utilities that fill that last bastion of empty space on my Mac—the Menu Bar. It’s getting crowded and it’s getting ugly.
To the far right on the Menu Bar is the Spotlight search icon. Next to that is my login name, then the Mac’s clock, then sound, then the Airport status bars. Nothing special, right?
Except that I’m actually using three times more than that amount.
I have MobileMe status in the Menu Bar, right next to my AppleScript drop down menu which is next to Spaces icon. There’s iChat status, ChronoSync status, and one of my favorites, Menu Status.
I’m just getting started. Remember, I haven’t even made it to the application side of the Menu Bar.
With a nod to Star Trek TNG’s Data, data also expands to fill the space available for storage. So it is with the Menu Bar.
Granted, Menu Status takes up a lot of space but it does a lot, too. It checks on CPU usage, network traffic, temperature, hard drive space, RAM space, and a couple more things that I’d need to look up to describe.
I run Little Snitch so there’s an icon in the Menu Bar for that, as is the Time Machine back up. Shovebox, All Bookmarks, PTH Pasteboard, xScope’s seven icons, and one icon with a padlock and an entry field and I don’t remember what it does.
That’s probably alright because I’m officially out of space in my Menu Bar. The Dock is full, the Dashboard is full of Widgets, my Menu Bar is also full, yet I have more applications and utilities that need to be within monitoring distance.
It’s time for a new Mac with a bigger screen.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Kate, do you really need all those things cluttering up the place?’
Apparently this creeping manifestation of productivity has also gone portable. My iPhone has nine pages of 16 applications, utilities, games for a total of 144 icons, plus the four at the bottom of the iPhone’s screen.
The grand total on my iPhone is actually higher than the quick link icons on my Mac.
My life is very cluttered, or very organized, or I’m very obsessive compulsive. What ever it is, I’m out of space.