I'm new to macOS and I really like the way you can assign a window to be it's own Desktop via full-screening. However, I have an issue with the default way the Menu bar works in full-screen.

I often move my cursor to the top of the screen to click on my tabs in my browsers and editors, and accidentally trigger the Menu bar obscuring my tabs. Other times I'd like the Menu bar to be available at a glance rather than having to trigger it by mousing up.

Is there some setting or application that will force the Menu bar to show at all times for full-screened windows?

It appears I'm not the first to have this issue, but the solutions in this post didn't work for me and based on the comment for the top answer it won't work for anyone.

If there is no way to do this can anyone give me a hint where I can get started writing an application to do this?

PS: Please don't suggest that I simply hold alt when clicking the fullscreen green button or anything else like just resize the window to fill the screen". This doesn't solve my issue because it strips away many of the advantages of fullscreening.

  • 1
    If you like the isolation of multiple desktops and being able to swipe between them etc, have you considered just adding the "maximised" version of the application to a new space/desktop? As "full screen" is "full screen" its not "full screen minus a bit" otherwise many people could get frustrated that full screen is not full screen :P - You say you lose advantages of fullscreening, maybe if you could elaborate on these advantages you want then would be easier suggest things
    – Owen
    Mar 13 '17 at 11:26
  • Can you elaborate what you mean by "the advantages of fullscreening" please?
    – n1000
    May 3 '19 at 9:33
  • this issue (accidentally revealing the menu bar while aiming to click a browser tab) drives me mad.. unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a solution as yet - all answers below suggest avoiding full-screen Spaces mode altogether, which is not what I what..
    – Lloyd
    Oct 14 '20 at 11:41

🥳 This answer is outdated! 🎉

Hooray! It's now possible to do this in macOS Monterrey! Please see my new answer below for how to do this.

Since I still think there's merit in the old answer, I've archived it here:

I've been annoyed by this, too, and the simple, yet very, very painful answer is to hold alt ⌥
and press the green title bar button (which should turn into a + when you hold option/alt)

enter image description here

If this doesn't make it cover the screen, you can finish the job by holding alt ⌥
and double-clicking a corner to resize the window to fill the screen.

If you make your dock hide by default, this essentially gives you a "fullscreen" program with the menu bar always shown.

  • 9
    This is a great solution. However it doesn't work in split screen mode.
    – dorien
    Jul 21 '17 at 2:27
  • 13
    @dorien yep. Another reason I'm disappointed. Apple can do better. Jul 21 '17 at 2:33
  • 2
    @Supuhstar Indeed. Also making a maximized window a separate desktop seems overkill. You can't have windows on top then if you want to float them over it.
    – dorien
    Jul 21 '17 at 3:13
  • @dorien - what makes you think that? In fact it's the opposite - a fullscreen app will take up the whole Space, a maximised one can have other apps/windows over it, if desired.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 21 '17 at 5:08
  • 1
    Still, quite annoying that there's only one way to maximize windows. Oct 22 '18 at 19:15

In addition to what others have said (using the ALT/OPTION + CLICK green maximize button), to designate a Desktop Space for one app, you can do a:

  • 3 (or 4) Finger Swipe Up to bring up the spaces menu at the top of the screen.

  • Bring your mouse over the top right and the (+) icon should expand and let you add a new space.

  • Drag that space in whichever order you desire (first, second, or last, etc.)

  • Now you can drag your desired app into that space, and (if it's not already...) you can maximize it with the usual keyboard shortcut trick.

It's worth noting that although ALT/OPTION + CLICK-ing the green maximize button does expand the window to full height, you probably want to combine it as SHIFT + ALT/OPTION + CLICK to expand to full width and height of your screen.

Add your own Desktop Space manually

Happy Spacing & Maximizing!

  • Awesome! Thank you!
    – Daydah
    Jan 25 '20 at 9:17

I use BetterTouchTool in two ways.

First, I defined an action that right clicking the maximize button will maximise windows rather than trigger fullscreen mode. Of course, you can set your own action or key combination instead or even override the green button entirely.

enter image description here

Second, I use Window Snapping, which basically imitates the functionality in Microsoft Windows. When you drag a window into a corner or to the top of the screen it will either enlarge it to an area of the screen or maximize it, respectively.

enter image description here

  • Why the downvote?
    – n1000
    May 3 '19 at 9:31
  • Your link doesn't work anymore. Jul 16 '19 at 13:54
  • 1
    @JoshCorreia Thanks! Updated.
    – n1000
    Jul 16 '19 at 14:03

This is possible in macOS 12 Monterrey!! 🥳

In System PreferencesDock & Menu BarDock & Menu Bar, under the "Menu Bar" section at the bottom, you'll find this beautiful and glorious check box:

Here's a screenshot showing off the "Dock & Menu Bar" panel of System Preferences in macOS Monterrey, with the "Dock & Menu Bar" section selected, and an arrow pointing at a checkbox labelled "Automatically hide and show the menu bar in full screen".

Simply uncheck that box, and now when you bring an app into full-screen, the menu bar will remain at the top of the screen!

Then, a screenshot showing off Safari in full-screen mode, with the menu bar showing at the top of the screen.

The only strange thing to be aware of is the window control buttons (the "traffic lights"). Just like with this preference checked, the control buttons won't show until you bring your cursor to the top of the screen. This behavior strikes me as odd, but understandable, so I figured I'd note it here.

Here's an animation demonstrating the behavior described above.


I came across this question, and it seems that double clicking the window title bar also does the job!

(This might be a useful alternative to the other suggested options)

  • Unfortunately, some applications (like Safari and Finder) don't maximize the window when you do this ☹️ yesterday

⇧ shift-⌥ opt-click on the green stoplight button (+) to maximize the window in both width and height, keeping the menu bar visible.

  • 1
    What does ⇧ do in this case? Oct 5 '18 at 17:40
  • @BenLeggiero, the + button is actually called Zoom, and it resizes the window to fit the content, not the screen. This is the case in every version before Full Screen replaced Zoom. ALT-clicking + would serve as Maximise. For many third-party apps, macOS decides that the right size to fit the content is to use as much space as possible, but other apps take full advantage of the Zoom button's intended use. After Full Screen replaced Zoom, Zoom became ALT-click, and Maximise ALT-SHIFT-click.
    – Jivan Pal
    Sep 9 '20 at 5:42
  • @JivanPal I tried --clicking the green button in Finder, and it behaved the same as -clicking Sep 9 '20 at 16:35
  • 1
    @BenLeggiero, interesting, I just tried it too on Catalina 10.15.6, and it also doesn't do anything. I do remember this working on older versions of macOS, so I guess the feature has been removed.
    – Jivan Pal
    Sep 10 '20 at 1:18

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