Sign up ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need a menu-bar app* which will show me the output of a terminal command, and run that Terminal command every 60s or so.

Or I need a menu-bar app which will read the contents of a file, and update whenever that file is updated.

(The output would be no more than 3 or 4 digits)

Are there any such apps?

* neither the Dock nor the Desktop are workable alternatives. Needs to be the menu bar.

Update 2014-06-16: The answer from Jun 9 '12 at 2:15 did not end up working for me after all, so I'm still looking for a solution.

share|improve this question
See GeekTool! – user588 Jun 9 '12 at 2:48
GeekTool = Desktop, not menu bar. – TJ Luoma Jun 9 '12 at 3:34
You can position output wherever you want it, including the menubar. 3 or 4 digits, small font, two lines, could fit left of apple or right of spotlight icons. – user588 Jun 9 '12 at 3:56
I want this information to be visible by glancing at the menu bar, not by me having to go into the menu bar to look at it. Like a clock or Disk Alarm, – TJ Luoma Jun 15 '12 at 11:45
Yup. GeekTool output floats on top of everything. I think the ruby-driven solution is better, but this would work if your output is not very large. If you need more space add a menu item you don't want to see (volume control?) and have the GeekTool output cover it with a non-transparent background. – user588 Jun 15 '12 at 12:31

4 Answers 4

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

require "osx/cocoa"
include OSX

app = NSApplication.sharedApplication 
statusitem = NSStatusBar.systemStatusBar().statusItemWithLength(NSVariableStatusItemLength)
while true
    sleep 1

(If anyone who actually knows Cocoa wants to improve this, feel free to edit.) I more or less just copied the script from taw's blog: Personal experience points and OSX menulets, which was mentioned in display - Is there a way to have AppleScript output displayed in the menubar? - Apple.

share|improve this answer
Wow, that's pretty awesome. For some reason it works great with rand but doesn't update my command (I get the output of the first time it runs, but it never changes after that), but it's a great starting point. Makes me wish I knew Ruby! – TJ Luoma Jun 9 '12 at 17:56
@TJLuoma The original script used an NSTimer to update the status item, but I couldn't figure it out. (If someone can, edits are still welcome.) – ؘؘؘؘ Jun 10 '12 at 4:17

Here is the solution in python.
Install rumps framework (linked repository has patch for OS X 10.9.3)
sudo pip install git+

You might need to adjust $PYTHONPATH to include pyobjc (Foundation)
export PYTHONPATH=/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Extras/lib/python

Adjust the following code for your needs:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import rumps
import os
import threading

class AwesomeStatusBarApp(rumps.App):
    def __init__(self):
        super(AwesomeStatusBarApp, self).__init__("Awesome App", "Title")

def tail(self):
    threading.Timer(5, tail, [self, ]).start()
    self.title = os.popen("tail -1 /var/log/system.log").read()[0:-1][0:50]


Do not forget to limit the length of the string ([0:50]) (or OS X will remove it in favor of menus if they both don't fit), and get rid of the newline in the end ([0:-1])

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Thanks! This shows an app in the dock as well as the menu bar. Any idea how to have it show only in the menu bar? – TJ Luoma Jun 17 '14 at 18:31
You can use something like Platypus to create an app from your script and adjust it's .plist to not show in dock. – Sergei Jun 21 '14 at 7:53
Thanks! I was hoping to find something a little more… user friendly? Plug + play? Something. But this is 100% better than what I had, and I appreciate the time and effort to answer it. – TJ Luoma Jun 24 '14 at 22:30

I was searching for such tool many times until I have implemented that for my self: No ads, it’s free and you can build anything you like.

share|improve this answer
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I finally found what I've been looking for. In fact, it’s much better than what I was hoping for:


  • Configure TextBar to run multiple scripts/commands/etc and display the results in your menubar.
  • Click the TextBar item to add the text to your clipboard.
  • Enable/disable each item individually.
  • Configure how often you want each item to be updated.
  • add an icon for each menubar item (or none)

I’ve been using this for the past week or so and it’s great.

$3. Demo available at

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.