In Mavericks the icons in the menubar changed behavior.

The sorting is not dependent anymore on the order at which the apps were launched, but rather … something else. The icons jump and I now have an app running that adds a menubar icon, when I click it, I see the location services icon for a moment to its right, before it disappears, leaving a gap.

The icon that flashes mostly is the location icon, which appears leftmost in the sequence (sometimes leftmost removed by one). I didn't think OS X menubar icons can even be drawn where I am seeing them.

Is there a hidden preference or something I can do to prevent OS X being smart about the sorting?

  • What is the "something else" you're discovering? It might help figuring that out first. A-B-C order? Or what is it?
    – Rob
    Mar 11, 2014 at 10:27
  • That I don't know. I don't know what OS X uses to position the icon. System menu extras appear mixed with app icons. In this particular case, the location icon flashes up right next to the leftmost icon before it disappears. Usually all system extras are kept right to normal app icons, aren't they?
    – Zettt
    Mar 11, 2014 at 14:55
  • I've seen times when adding or removing an icon left a gap that didn't close itself. Might you have a picture of this happening or know how to reproduce the bug?
    – bmike
    Mar 11, 2014 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


There are two types of menubar items in OS X. The classical one of type NSMenuExtra which is primarily used by Apple's own stuff like the clock, AirPort, TimeMachine, VPN and keychain, etc. These are not officially available for third party developers. The other type is an NSStatusItem which is available for everyone and almost all apps that provide a menu bar item use this type.

Historically only NSMenuExtras could be sorted by ⌘ (command) dragging them and NSStatusItems were displayed in launch order from right to left. Since Mavericks Apple allow all items to be reordered by command-dragging them.

The chosen order should be persistent across logins. Some items like location services or screen synchronization will only show up when needed so they may change your sort order temporarily. The order is the same for all menu bars if you're using multiple screens.

  • Please see my comment in the original question. I may have to rephrase. It's unusual to see a OS X menubar icon appear all the way to the left, also just for the blink of a second.
    – Zettt
    Mar 11, 2014 at 14:57
  • 1
    I am pressing the Command key and attempting to move icons. When I hold Command and the click on an icon, the menu for the icon appears (Dropbox, Caffeine, Monosnap). This does not work on Mac 10.9.4. Aug 25, 2014 at 21:46
  • You said, "Since Mavericks Apple allow all items to be reordered by command-dragging them." Only some Apple icons do that in El Capitan for me. Am I missing something?
    – Jim L.
    Mar 8, 2016 at 14:05

Try Bartender. This lets you rearrange all your menu bar items and will ensure their position remains at all times whilst the app is open. This will also ensure that previously saved menu bar items return to their correct position after being closed and reopened. Finally, Bartender fixes a number of positioning bugs that seem to occur with some menu bar items since Bartender 'controls' the position of all menu bar items regardless of the position that they 'want' to be (or OS X wants them to be).

  • I'm using Bartender and having a problem where icons jump to another location when I want to click them.
    – konrad
    Jul 9, 2014 at 12:52
  • @konrad What version of OS X are you on? This would be worth a separate question though to get more visibility—I've not had this problem before.
    – grg
    Jul 9, 2014 at 12:56
  • Up to date Mavericks. I just upgraded Bartender to the latest beta version to see if that solves the problem. I have not seen any issues yet, but it's something that starts happening after a while.
    – konrad
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:20

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