capsule review

MenuPop 1.01

At a Glance
  • Binary Bakery Software MenuPop

    Macworld Rating

Large displays and multiple-display setups are great for productivity. But they also make it more of a hassle to access the menu bar—on a large screen, the menu bar is often more than a quick flick of the wrist (or, on a trackpad, the finger) away, and if you’ve got more than one display, the menu bar could even be on a completely different screen.

A classic Mac Gem was DejaMenu, which, at the press of a keyboard shortcut, put the menu bar’s menus right under your mouse cursor. Unfortunately, DejaMenu hasn’t been updated in years, and the most-recent version has a few bugs. Several months ago, I covered Binary Bakery’s $7 MenuEverywhere, which combines much of the functionality of DejaMenu with the capability to access menu-bar menus from the title bar of any program or Finder window. But while I liked the idea behind MenuEverywhere’s title-bar menus, over time I found that I mainly used its DejaMenu-like feature.

If you’re in the same boat, you’ll be happy to hear that the developer of MenuEverywhere now provides a separate—and free—utility, MenuPop, which removes MenuEverywhere’s title-bar features, essentially making MenuPop a modern alternative to DejaMenu.

As with DejaMenu and MenuEverywhere, pressing MenuPop’s configurable keyboard shortcut brings up a hierarchical menu, directly under the cursor, containing the menus of the active program. Each of those menus is itself hierarchical, if applicable. Choose a command from the MenuPop menu and it functions just as if you’d chosen it from the actual menu bar.

But MenuPop provides a number of additional features you won’t find in DejaMenu. For example, MenuPop’s menu can include the Apple Menu; can display keyboard shortcuts for menu commands; and can show or omit the current application’s application menu (the Finder menu in the Finder, for example), depending on your settings.

Another unique option lets MenuPop display alternate menu commands—those that normally appear only when you press modifier keys—at all times. (If you don’t enable this option, you can still press modifier keys when browsing MenuPop’s menus to see these alternate commands, just as you would in the original menu-bar version of each menu.) I found this feature to be especially useful for reminding me of menu options I’d forgotten about—or showing me ones I never knew existed.

You can also change the font size used in MenuPop’s menus and—keyboard jockeys rejoice!—navigate MenuPop’s menus using the keyboard.

If you have a multi-button mouse that lets you configure buttons to perform keystrokes, you can of course assign your MenuPop keyboard shortcut to a button on the mouse, making MenuPop even more convenient. But it would be great if MenuPop provided its own mechanism for mouse- or trackpad-only access—for example, by letting you assign MenuPop to Control+Shift+click, or by letting you activate MenuPop by holding down the mouse/trackpad button for a second or more.

One minor issue with MenuPop is that if one of a program’s menus uses an icon instead of a name—for example, the script menu in iTunes, which appears as a small AppleScript icon—MenuPop substitutes a text label in place of that icon. In other words, the menu is still accessible and usable within MenuPop, but you’ll have to look for it by name. The developer also notes that MenuPop may not work perfectly in programs that “do not properly supply menu information.” However, in my testing, I didn’t come across any such problems. MenuPop even worked in Microsoft Word 2008, a program that, in my experience, causes problems for many system-enhancement utilities.

Simply put, MenuPop is a standout system add-on that’s claimed a place among my login items.

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At a Glance
  • Binary Bakery Software MenuPop

    Macworld Rating
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