A menu bar utility for macOS

Latest Release: 1.4.2

 New Version


Download And Install MNU

You can install MNU using Brew. In Terminal, just run:

brew tap smittytone/homebrew-smittytone

brew cask install mnu

Alternatively, click the file link below to download MNU.
Please verify the integrity of the download with the SHA-256 checksum.

File Name  mnu_1_4_2.dmg
File Size  4.7MB
SHA 256  607cb4fe5ce4f13f6411f45403c96c70f1855b71122d94da4e4d8a4cbb9b8024


About MNU

MNU is a macOS main menu bar utility which provides not only a number of handy controls for system settings you may change frequently, but also allows you to invoke shell scripts that you use often.

MNU appears in the macOS menu bar

MNU comes pre-configured with these useful items:

  • A switch to enable or disable macOS’s Dark Mode (Mojave and up)
  • A switch to show or hide files on the Desktop
  • A switch to show or hide hidden files
  • A trigger to update your Git repos (requires gitup)
  • A trigger to update your Homebrew installation (brew update)
  • A trigger to upgrade your Homebrew installation (brew upgrade)
  • Any or all of these stock items can be hidden from view if you don’t need them; you can add your own items; and you can re-order the items.

How to Use MNU

The first time you run MNU, it will ask you whether you want it to start automatically the next time you log into your Mac. We recommend that you click Yes, but you can always start MNU manually by double-clicking on its icon. If you click No and subsequently change your mind, you can tell MNU to start automatically by setting the appropriate preference.

If you click Yes when you see the start automatically request or when you first use one of MNU’s items, macOS will request permission to grant MNU the right to access System Events. Please OK this request. macOS will also also you to grant MNU permission to access Terminal. Again, please OK this request.

Important MNU will not fully function without these permissions:

MNU requires System Events permissions

You can always check the permissions granted to MNU by opening System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Automation:

Control MNU permissions in System Preferences, Security+Privacy

Note MNU’s installer will restart a new version of MNU if it is already installed and currently running.

How To Configure MNU

To configure MNU, click on the gearwheel icon in the last item on the menu:

The MNU control strip
MNU’s controls (left to right): Quit, Configure and Help

This pops up the Configure MNU window: make sure the Menu Items tab is showing:

The Menu Items tab is where you choose what item MNU shows

The Menu Items tab lists the menu items currently set up for MNU in the order in which they appear in MNU. You can reorder the items just by grabbing one item and dragging it to the location you prefer. When you’re done, click Apply to update MNU, or close the window to ignore any changes you have made.

All of the menu items feature a button which allow you to hide any such items that you don’t need. The button is green is its item is shown in the menu, or red if it is not. Just click to hide any shown item. If you later decide you’d like to see a hidden item after all, just click the button (now coloured red) to bring its item back to MNU.

Hint option-click MNU’s menu bar icon The MNU menu bar icon to temporarily view the complete menu, including hidden items.

The other buttons, which are disabled for pre-installed items, allow you to edit or delete items you have added yourself:

The menu item controls: show/hide, edit, delete
MNU’s item controls (left to right): Show/hide, Edit and Delete

How to Add and Edit Your Own Menu Items

Initially, MNU contains only the built-in items, but you can add further ones by clicking + in the Configure MNU window. This presents a sheet in which you can enter a Terminal command that can then be invoked from MNU’s main menu. The command can be a simple request to change directory (for example, cd $HOME), or can be a complex command line sequence that invokes a script or command and passes in fixed arguments (such as, ~/scripts/myimageresizescript.py -size 640 480):

Add a new MNU item

From MNU 1.3.0, you can include quoting in Terminal commands, with escaping for double-quotes (\"), the dollar sign (\$) and the tick (`). For example, the commands

echo "You \`ave `ls | wc -l` files in `pwd`"
echo "The value of \$HOME is $HOME"
echo "$GIT"

will be correctly executed in the Terminal. This wasn’t the case with earlier versions of MNU. Please note that this does not apply to commands run outside of Terminal, ie. outside of a shell.

When creating a new MNU item, you will also need to give the command a name by which it will be listed in the MNU menu. This should not match the name of an existing item. Lastly, click on on the circular Menu icon to change the image which will appear alongside the item in the menu:

Select the MNU item icon from the popup palette

Click on a new icon to select it, then click off the popup panel to hide it. When you are done, click Add, or Cancel to discard your changes.

The new item will now be listed in the Configure MNU window’s Menu Items tab, but it won’t be added to MNU until you click Apply; closing the window will cause the new item to be discarded.

Items you have added can be deleted from the list, or they can be edited if you need to make a change: just click on the delete or edit buttons, respectively:

Edit a MNU item

When MNU quits — you have restarted or shutdown your Mac, or you have clicked the quit icon at the bottom of the menu — it saves the current state of the menu so it’s ready for next time.

Opening Applications

From version 1.2.0, MNU also allows you to name apps that can then be activated from the menu bar. Add a new item as outlined above, but this time simply enter the name of the application and tick the Check this box if you just want MNU to open the named application checkbox:

MNU can be used to open macOS apps

Click Add and then Apply. When you select the application from MNU, it will be opened without first opening the macOS Terminal.

Running Scripts Outside of Terminal

From version 1.2.2, MNU also allows you to add commands that can be run without of Terminal. Add a new item as outlined above, but this time simply enter the command and tick the Check this box to run the script without Terminal checkbox:

CLI commands can be executed directly, outside of Terminal

Click Add and then Apply. When you select the item from MNU, it will be executed without opening the macOS Terminal.

It’s important to remember that, without a shell, commands run this way must be provided with a full path and must not use Shell variables, eg. $HOME. Items called directly will not undergo any substitution or quoting. For example, the command rsync -avz ~ /Volumes/server/home will silently fail: ~ is not a valid path outside of a shell and rsync is not in the root directory. Instead use /usr/bin/rsync -avz /Users/a_user /Volumes/server/home.

You should also remember that you can’t call scripts this way.

How to Backup and Restore Your Menu Items

New in Version 1.1.0 You can export a record of the items presented by MNU by clicking the gearwheel button MNU32settings icon then selecting the Backup MNU Items. option. This will present a dialog in which you choose the location of the record.

You can save a backup of your MNU items

Loading in a saved list of items is just a matter of clicking the gearwheel button, selecting the Import Items. option and locating the record file when prompted. This action will replace all of the items listed in the Menu Items tab, but the menu itself will not be updated (and the new items saved for next time) until you click Apply. If you just close the Configure MNU window, the imported items will be ignored (though the backup list can be imported again at another time).

You might use this feature for backup purposes, or to synchronise menu items across multiple Macs. Because menu items can be set to trigger scripts that may download and run software on your Mac, only import menu item files you trust.

MNU Preferences

The second tab in the Configure MNU window shows MNU’s preferences:

Set your MNU preferences

Currently there is just three:

The first of these will initially be set only if you asked MNU to start automatically when MNU gave you this choice on its first run. Checking or un-checking this preference will, respectively, cause MNU to be added to or removed from System Preferences’ Users & Groups > Login Items readout:

Set MNU to run when you log into your Mac

We recommend you enable this option so that MNU is always present in your mac’s menu bar when you need it.

Running Terminal commands in a new tab will always ensure MNU doesn’t affect any Terminal tabs you already have open and in which you may be already running a command. If this option is not checked, MNU will always run commands in Terminal’s first tab, whether it is already running a command or not.

MNU presents images to help you identify menu items quickly, including a generic icon for items you have added yourself. If you don’t want MNU to include these images, un-check this option.

The Configure MNU window’s last tab provides some information about MNU:

Get MNU version information and submit feedback

Please click the Send Feedback button to report any problems you encounter with MNU, or to make suggestions for future functionality. We can’t respond to every feedback message we receive, but we will make a note of all bugs reported and any comments that you have to make about the app.

Release Notes

  • 1.4.2
    • Packaging update.
  • 1.4.1
    • Minor improvements.
  • 1.4.0
    • Support for macOS 11.0 ‘Big Sur’.
    • Preliminary Apple Silicon support.
  • 1.3.0
    • Preliminary support for quoting and escaping in Terminal commands.
    • Updated selection of menu item icon graphics.
      • If you’re upgrading from an earlier version, some of your icons may change — please just edit the item to select a different icon.
    • Better recovery when the persisted MNU item list is damaged
      • The user is now asked how they want to proceed: quit the app or start with the default items.
    • Better serialization and de-serialization.
    • Update code to avoid deprecated calls.
    • Add unit tests.
  • 1.2.2
    • Add the ability to execute commands outside of a shell/Terminal.
  • 1.2.1
    • Add copy, cut, paste, select all, undo and redo to the Add/Edit User Item text fields.
  • 1.2.0
    • Add app opening.
  • 1.1.1
    • Add app restart installer scripts.
  • 1.1.0
    • Add an extra controls button, MNU settings icon, to the Configure window:
      • Export a JSON representation of the current menu item lits for backup and/or sync across Macs.
      • Import JSON backups.
    • Add tooltips to key UI items.
  • 1.0.1
    • Minor improvements.
    • Show correct version in MNU menu bar tooltip.
  • 1.0.0
    • Initial public release.

Source Code

You can view MNU’s source code at GitHub.

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Site Last Updated: 23 October 2020