It's much too wide, which is a problem if you use a lot of menu bar apps.

4 Answers 4


In Terminal/commandline, run:

defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSpacing -int x
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSelectionPadding -int y

Logout/relogin to apply changes.

A value of 6 (x) for spacing and 12 (y) for padding looks ideal to me, but your mileage may vary. It seems that results are optimal when the padding value is twice the spacing value.

Values can be decreased down to 0 for extra-compact appearance. Keep in mind that below a certain value, the small Location Services symbol periodically appearing in the Control Center menu bar item might be cut off.

Revert back to default settings (Terminal/commandline):

defaults -currentHost delete -globalDomain NSStatusItemSelectionPadding
defaults -currentHost delete -globalDomain NSStatusItemSpacing
  • 1
    Awesome. Possible credits: reddit.com/r/MacOS/comments/16lpfg5/…
    – Maen
    Commented Mar 21 at 8:31
  • 3
    A bit heavy handed, but you can apply the settings without logging out / in or restart: ps -A | grep Core | awk '{ print $1 }' | xargs kill -9
    – dain
    Commented Apr 17 at 16:27
  • This blog post has a write-up based on this approach with some screenshot examples: flaky.build/… Commented May 2 at 0:15
  • Thank god. This in combination with Dozer is such enough to get what I want. A compressed and small menu bar. No need to pay for Bartender. Commented Jun 8 at 19:33

Actually, there appears to be some way to do this, since the newest version of Bartender allows you to change or remove spacing in the menu bar. The app costs $15 (but offers a four-week free trial).

To change the spacing with Bartender, install the app, open the preferences window, and under "General" change "Menu bar item spacing" to "Small Spacing." After logging out and back in (or, if that doesn’t work, rebooting), the changes should take effect.


It is the approach Apple is taking, getting the menu bar items wider. Some conspiracy theories are stating that it might be the beginning of touch screen macs since the new UI is a lot more touch friendly. You can watch "Snazzy Labs" video about it while Big Sur was in beta. I believer it was called "Big Sur's Secret" or smt...

Back to your question, no. At this point, until a developer gets his hands on a 3rd party app or apple listens to its customers resisting the change, you cannot change any of the Big Sur spacings.

Addition: At the time of writing this answer, there were no software capable of doing such thing. However, as the answer above me mentioned a newer version of "Bartender" capable of such thing. This answer is obsolete.

  • 10
    Thanks. I'll give feedback to Apple about this and recommend others who feel the same do so too. Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 12:22

You can hold Cmd ⌘ and drag some of the icons to remove them to reduce the amount you have in the menubar. With some of the new additions Apple has put in, there is some redundancy and you no longer need some of them. For example - you no longer need the Sound menubar item. I know it's not a huge help - but it seems these days every little bit counts, lol..

Good luck!

  • Which version of macOS and which icons. Option drag just seems to open them on BigSur
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 10:33
  • @mmmmmm it's Cmd-Drag, not Opt
    – 0xFR
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 14:20

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