In the System Preferences panel for Spotlight in OS X 10.8, it claims "Spotlight is located at the top right corner of the screen". On my system, this no longer appears to be true; the Notification Center menubar icon has claimed that particular piece of prime real estate. There is precisely one pixel that is "at" the top right corner. Spotlight is still near the top right corner, but the top right pixel no longer triggers Spotlight.

Has anyone discovered a way to make the Spotlight icon appear where it used to (preferably without disabling Notification Center, which is indeed useful but doesn't need that particular spot)?

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  • 7
    Both Spotlight and the Notification Center are in the top right corner of your screen...
    – Gerry
    Jul 25, 2012 at 16:33
  • 5
    no. Notification Center is in the corner. Spotlight is next to the corner. Fitts's Law is important here.
    – Daniel
    Jul 25, 2012 at 16:34
  • 3
    I get your point, but I don't believe Fitts's Law was important to Apple when they chose the wording in the prefpane :) The same indication is used in the Notification Center prefpane btw.
    – Gerry
    Jul 25, 2012 at 16:41
  • 1
    I get the gist of what your issue is. If you think about it though, it would be near impossible to word this any better, other than defining the icon (as in, Spotlight is the magnifying glass at the top right). Otherwise they would have to define it relation to NC, which adds complexity. The language is correct. Also, your 'there is one pixel...' sentence makes little sense - that icon is several pixels...
    – jmlumpkin
    Jul 25, 2012 at 17:27
  • 2
    I think I see what you are saying - as in, you could (by 'force') fling the cursor to the top right and click, knowing that would work. I find the key command MUCH faster, since you usually would be typing something to search for anyways. And the mouse easily navigates the menu.
    – jmlumpkin
    Jul 25, 2012 at 17:40

5 Answers 5


It used to be the realm of the first menu-bar item to start the got the prized first (last?) slot in the menu bar. But since Spotlight, it's always had the prime location to itself. Now it's been usurped. That's not to say that some command line hack won't turn up that can change things, but as things stand there is no officially supported/provided way of doing this via a preference pane.

But I wouldn't actually go looking - the whole point of the spotlight button is to allow you to type in some search criteria. As such, why click the icon, then move to the keyboard - just use the provided keyboard shortcut instead - command+space is not only the easiest to remember (for me) it's also the easiest to pull off even if you are terrible at remembering shortcuts. I use it as my command launcher these days, just command+space+"sa"+return starts Safari up faster than mousework for me.

  • 2
    You're right, I suppose. But that isn't what I think to do. I suppose it's time to retrain myself. Cool bonus feature: ⌘-Space then fn fn, say Safari, press fn again -- pretty cool!
    – Daniel
    Jul 25, 2012 at 19:52

This isn't my ideal answer, because it eliminates not only the Notification Center icon, but Notification Center itself. But for anyone desperate to get Spotlight back in the top corner, here goes:

Warning: This involves hacking your System folder; make appropriate backups and proceed with caution!

To disable Notification Center entirely (which will cause its icon to not appear in the Menu Bar), you can go to /System/Library/CoreServices and select Notification Center.app. Press ⌘I to Get Info. Click the Lock icon at the bottom of the screen to unlock the settings (you will be prompted for your password). In the Sharing and Permissions portion of the pane, click the plus sign. Add your account as a special user, then set the Privilege column to Read & Write for yourself. Then, in the Name and Extension field, add the letter x to the beginning of the file name, dismissing any warnings the system throws your way.

Reboot the system.

Note that this eliminates the icon, but also all Notification Center functionality.

Spotlight does, however, return to its proper place. Not worth it for me, but someone might find this helpful.


Bartender is an app, presently in beta, that allows you to hide the notification center menubar item, among other menu bar-tending tasks. Notification Center is hidden (and so Spotlight is rightmost), but I still get notifications!

  • I did not have any success with getting Bartender to remove the Notification Center icon.
    – Daniel
    Jul 31, 2012 at 13:08

I haven't had a chance to test it myself on the Notification Center icon, but have you tried Broomstick?


I've used it to successfully hide just about every other app that I didn't want hanging around in the menubar.

  • No, there's no option for Notification Center there, and judging by its approach to "hiding" Spotlight, it looks rather unpromising.
    – Daniel
    Jul 28, 2012 at 4:16

Unfortunately I lack time so I'll post a raw idea. Hope somebody will benefit from this one.

Why don't we replace existing Notification Center icon with an empty one and create another application with regular menubar icon which opens and hides Notification Center?

Icons for on/off/pressed states can be found under


We'll need to generate a blank .tiff file and place it instead of current icons. Hopefully 0x0 tiff will be rendered correctly.

Also it could be hard to show/hide Notification Center programmatically from our statusbar application.

By the way I tried to track Bartender.app file changes with


to find a .plist file responsible for the notification center icon position but found nothing.

  • Nice idea, but the blank .tiff files still took up the same amount of space in the menubar.
    – Daniel
    Aug 1, 2012 at 4:39
  • I meant a tiff of zero width and height. Probably tiff files have to contain at least 1px, that would be bad. Aug 1, 2012 at 5:39
  • I haven't had any luck on that front… have you?
    – Daniel
    Aug 2, 2012 at 19:39

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