Control Window and Menu Bar

Starting the program and working with the control window

System Monitor can be started by double-clicking its icon in the Finder or Dock. Launchpad can also be used, of course. After the first launch, the following window will appear which allows you to manage all features of the app as desired:

System Monitor Control Window
System Monitor Control Window

The left side of the window shows different areas that you can control. We refer to it as sidebar. The individual items within the sidebar are thematically arranged sections that you can select by clicking. After you have selected an item, its settings will appear at the right hand side of the window.

The window can be resized as usual, by dragging its outer frame. If the window is wide enough, you can additionally resize the sidebar, determining the portions which are used for sidebar and preferences. You can do so by dragging the divider line between the two parts.

If you have a Mac with Touch Bar, you can also switch between the different sections of the configuration using the icon buttons shown on the bar.

Thematic sections can also be switched via Touch Bar
Thematic sections can also be switched via Touch Bar

The menu bar

In addition to the control window, the actual display area of the app will be shown simultaneously at the right side of the menu bar. The display of System Monitor is always added left to other icons which you might already have in the bar. So the display is placed on the right side, adding items from right to left. The menu of the currently active application remains always on the left side of the screen.

If your screen should not be wide enough to display the menu of the currently running application (left) and the added symbols (right) at the same time, the menu of the application will always have higher priority. Menu bar icons will disappear automatically from left to right until enough space is available. When more space will become available later, the icons will automatically reappear.

In case you mistakenly remove all monitoring items of System Monitor, the menu bar won’t become empty. In this particular situation, a crossed rectangle (⌧) will appear as a placeholder to indicate that System Monitor is still running.

In normal operation mode, System Monitor will show a summarized overview of the data directly in the menu bar. More details can be unveiled for each monitored item by opening the respective menu of the individual icon. You only need to click on the respective symbol with the left or right mouse button. Which details are available to be retrieved can be customized individually in most cases. Another click on that area in the menu bar will close the menu again.

At the bottom of each menu, you will always find the item Preferences…. After selecting such an item, the control window will be shown and the matching section with the associated preference settings will be opened.

The System Monitor icon in the menu bar

In addition to the monitor items, System Monitor also shows a little black-and-white version of its icon in the menu bar. This is a special item that has no display features but keeps a menu with the basic control features. You can use it to quit the App, for example. To save space, experienced users can remove this icon if necessary. The chapter Customizing Layout of the Menu Bar Display has more information.

Switching between normal app operation and operation in the menu bar only

You only need the control window when you like to make changes to the configuration of System Monitor. After all settings have been made as desired, you can close the control window which also removes the icon of the app in the Dock. The display in the menu bar should usually be shown all the time, however. It will only disappear when you close the app.

This means System Monitor switches automatically between operation in the menu bar and operation as standard program with full user interface. Whenever you open the configuration window, the usual elements of a Macintosh app become visible:

The program does not need to be restarted when switching. To change the mode from full operation to the mode “menu bar only”, close the configuration window. To change from menu-bar operation to full operation, select any of the menu items Preferences… in a menu of any menu-bar item.

System Monitor shows an additional window that indicates the new mode while switching. Experienced users can disable this notification window via the preference setting Preferences > General Settings > App control > Suppress notice window when switching control mode.

If you have configured the macOS Dock to show a permanent tile for System Monitor, either by dragging its icon to the Dock, or by using the Dock feature Show recent applications in Dock, the context menu of the icon will also change in the different modes. During normal app operation, the context menu can quit the program and control its windows. In the mode “menu bar only”, macOS will only display the standard functions in the Dock menu, as if System Monitor were not running. To save space, it is not recommended to create a permanent Dock tile for System Monitor.

Starting the app automatically

In most cases, System Monitor should always be running when you work with your computer. For this reason is it usually desired to let System Monitor launch automatically, each time you log in to macOS. If the app is running at the moment, you can set this up as follows:

  1. Ensure that the configuration window is open, so System Monitor is running with its full user interface (see previous section).
  2. Perform a right-click on the icon in the Dock.
  3. In the context menu, select the menu item Options > Open at login.

If the app is currently not running:

  1. Launch the application System Preferences.
  2. Open the pane Users & Groups.
  3. Go to the tab Login Items.
  4. Click the button + below the table, navigate to your Applications folder and choose the app System Monitor so that it appears in the table afterwards.

If you like to switch off automatic startup, perform the following steps:

  1. Launch the application System Preferences.
  2. Open the pane Users & Groups.
  3. Go to the tab Login Items.
  4. Select System Monitor in the list of items that launch automatically.
  5. Click the button below the table.

Quitting the app

In most cases, the app is expected to run all the time, so you usually don’t need to care how to quit it. If you still like to quit the program, you’ll have the following options:

If the icon for System Monitor is visible in the menu bar:

  1. Open the menu attached to the little black-and-white System Monitor icon at the right hand side of the menu bar.
  2. Select the menu item Quit System Monitor.

If you have switched off the System Monitor icon in the menu bar:

  1. Select any of the menu items Preferences… in an item of System Monitor in the menu bar.
  2. In the main menu, select the menu item System Monitor > Quit System Monitor or press the key combination ⌘ + Q.

Order of icons in the menu bar

The individual icons shown both by macOS and by System Monitor at the right hand side of the menu bar can easily be rearranged in any order. The items can also be removed. New icons line up to the left of the items currently shown.

To relocate an item, perform the following steps:

  1. Hold down the key and keep it pressed.
  2. Use the left mouse button to click on the item that should be moved and drag it to its new position.
  3. Release the left mouse button and the key .

To remove an item from the menu bar, perform the following steps:

  1. Hold down the key and keep it pressed.
  2. Use the left mouse button to click on the item that should be removed and pull it down, out of the menu bar. Once the distance is so great that a close button (with a cross) is shown next to the item, release the mouse button.