macOS Menu Extras


I’m always curious to see what menu extras other Mac users have on their computer. Menu extras are all those icons on the right side of the menubar in macOS. This month I thought I’d go through which ones I have on my computer and why.

System Menu Extras

Notification Center

The only one on this list I don’t use — only here because you can’t disable it. (Yes you can remove the icon but the space is still there and functional.) I like notifications, but the history and widgets I never use.


I use the Spotlight hotkey on my personal computer a lot. A few years ago I got to the point where trying to keep everything in the Dock was impractical, and with the Yosemite redesign of Spotlight, I ended up switching to it as my launcher. When working on a computer remotely, it’s also much quicker to click on the little magnifying glass than wait for the screen to redraw the Applications folder.

Fast User Switching

Context is everything: who you are signed in as, and who else can be signed in on this device.

Date & Time

Western civilization runs off the globally synchronized clock, but I also forget what day of the week it is more that I care to... being able to glance up is great.

Keyboards & Languages

I’ve been using this since before OS X. Emoji & Symbols give you quick access to almost any possible character, and Keyboard Viewer shows you how to type them.


Moreso than battery level, the lightning bolt showing whether it’s plugged in or not is a welcome visual indicator, now that the charging cables don’t have the green/orange light built in. And when working on a Mac remotely, it’s helpful to see right off the bat if you have enough juice to make it through that hour-long install.


I don’t really use the icon as a visual indicator (the on-screen indicator when changing volume is much better) however, being able to switch audio input and output without launching System Preferences is a great timesaver if you use a headset and/or speakers.


Do I have a strong enough signal? Am I connected to the right network? And most importantly (for me), if I’m using Ethernet, is WiFi off entirely? Nothing like waiting forever for a download when you realize halfway through that it’s going over WiFi even though you’re plugged in.


Everyone with a laptop should have at least one all-traffic VPN configured to use when they’re on public WiFi. Or hotel Ethernet. Or anywhere you don’t explicitly trust everyone else on the same network.


Like Sound, I don’t tend to look at the indicator often, but the menu is great for troubleshooting — for some of the troubleshooting procedures, holding down Option is the only way to get to them.


Unless Apple someday decides to make a Mac with expansion slots in it again, this is the only way I’m going to have three monitors hooked up anymore. (I know it’s not for everyone, but I am so much more efficient with three that it’s worth the expense.)

Third Party Menu Extras


Password managers are awesome. We have a whole blog post about why you should use one.


There are lots of backup tools out there. We’ll have a separate blog post about how to backup and why, but if you just want to set it and forget it, Backblaze is a good choice. (In fact we require it for all of our partners!)

Corporate VPN (firewall-specific)

Unlike the all-traffic VPN connection mentioned above designed to keep your every packet from prying eyes, this one is designed to access resources you would normally have to be on-site to access. And yes, they can both be used simultaneously.


This is my second most used hotkey after Spotlight. This little tool satiates my perfectionism when managing windows. Super quick to use, works on multiple monitors, never run into a bug with it.


Most of the time when I copy text to the clipboard, I only want the text… none of the formatting that may have been styling the original source. FormatMatch lets you choose whether you copy just text or everything.

ReiKey, BlockBlock, OverSight

For the paranoid, it’s nice to have tools that tell you what other programs are trying to so on your computer. These three by Objective See give me a little peace of mind about what’s going on under the hood.

iStat Menus

The Objective See apps monitor software, iStat Menus monitors hardware. Kind of like the tachometer and fuel efficiency gauges on a car... not necessary for casual driving, but can help you get the best performance.

Hopefully you found at least one new tip or tool you can use to improve your day to day workflow. If you’d like to discuss other ways you or your business can increate your productivity using IT, reach out to us to set up a consultation!

Is your attempt to save money on IT actually costing you thousands of dollars?

Full article downloadable at  

Full article downloadable at 

We have posted a new article about the false economies of “do it yourself” IT services for business. Below is an excerpt from the article. You can download the full report on our website at (Including a worksheet for calculating the hidden cost of YOUR current  do it yourself or as needed IT plan)



Twenty-two minutes per day is more than TWO WEEKS per year that your team is spending working on IT issues rather than doing the job they were hired to do!

Many small businesses believe they either don’t need professional IT services or believe they can simply handle issues on an as needed basis.

Making the case for professional IT services…

1 - Technology has become an integral part of almost every business. Whether for simple email communication & internet access or complex secure networking and file access, downtime can be costly.

2 - IT systems are becoming more complex and interconnected. No one individual can be an expert on the multitude of services and security systems necessary to deploy and manage the technology needed for a business to function smoothly.

3 - In our experience, “as needed” technology management is just another way to say… “all fire-drills, all the time”. In this “as needed” mode of

operation, nothing ever actually gets fixed long term.

4 - Proper multi-tiered backups and disaster recovery systems require planning and constant monitoring to insure business continuity in the event of data loss or a disaster like fire, theft, hurricane and malicious attacks on your system by others.

Meet & Geek - Taco Tuesday

Just a quick note about our newly revived monthly meetup

The tech geeks at Envision Design pick one day a month to meetup and geek out.

Whether you want to discuss the latest Apple kit, Facebook scandal, internet security breach OR the latest releases for Star Wars, Marvel, or Doctor Who... join us for a monthly after work happy hour and some chill beverages and conversation.

Or discuss baseball! I love me some Astros!

Hope to see you there today at Spring Street Beer & Wine Garden 5-7pm.

Single Sign-On


So everyone at your organization has a strong password and multi-factor authentication enabled on their email account. Great! Now to enforce strong passwords and MFA on their computer login as well. And their file server login. And their Microsoft Office login. And Adobe Creative Cloud. And WiFi. And VPN, HRIS, Slack… Are we having fun yet? Don’t forget when someone leaves your organization, you have to go through and disable all those. Sometimes very quickly.

I don’t know about you, but to me, none of that sounds fun. Thankfully, it didn’t sound fun to other people either, and they worked out something called “single sign-on” (SSO): how to let each person use a single username, password and MFA across all the situations above. With a little more work up front, you can save days of onboarding, name changes, password resets, and offboarding.

But wait! You previously said to never reuse the same password. You’re right! The beauty of SSO is you always authenticate with the same system (JumpCloud, for example), and then that system tells the other systems you are authorized to access it. So you’re not reusing a password, you’re reusing an authentication system.

At the end of the day, SSO is a fundamental security feature for enterprise, small to medium businesses, and even individuals. It will not only save you time, but will let the technology do the work of making sure all necessary accounts are enabled, audited, changed, or disabled when needed. If you use Microsoft Active Directory or GSuite, you already have an authentication system that can be tied into many others. Third-party services like JumpCloud or Okta can extend that functionality even further.

Tech Applied - March Newsletter is available for download

March 2019 Tech Applied Newsletter

March 2019 Tech Applied Newsletter

The March newsletter has everything from a book recommendation for Powerful by Patty McCord (Netflix Chief Talent Officer), to business lessons from Petra’s lead business coach Andy Bailey, to a quick lesson about three insidious ways cybercriminals will exploit human error of employees to hack your network.

Click on the image to download your free copy. You can also contact us via our website and let us know if you would like to have a printed copy sent to you each month.

If you have questions about any of the IT issues discussed in the newsletter, or ANY IT issues for your business, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

Envision Design is the only certified member of the Apple Consultants Network that has been helping Houston businesses manage, monitor, and secure their technology systems for over 25 years. Whether you

…need to comply with industry mandated security requirements like HIPAA

… you want to implement a backup and disaster recovery plan

… or you simply want to improve the productivity and profitability of your team,

Envision will manage all your IT needs so you can get on with the great work YOU want to do. With no long term contracts, we retain clients by providing outstanding customer service. Fluent in both Apple and Microsoft solutions, we ensure your critical data has been backed up and is protected with a disaster recovery plan in hurricane prone Houston.

Call us today today at 832.422.8588 or toll free at 1.866.966.9406 to schedule a free consultation meeting.