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How to use the Option key to get more info from Menu bar widgets

The Menu bar on Mac
The Menu bar on Mac (Image credit: iMore)

Updated April, 2017: Added more tools you can find by holding the Option key while clicking the Wi-Fi icon.

You may or may not already know that holding down the Option key while clicking the Notification Center icon on your Mac allows you to quickly turn on or off Do Not Disturb. But did you know that the Option key unlocks a number of cool hidden tools in various Menu bar widgets?

Holding down the Option key while clicking on a Menu bar widget will call up additional information for a lot of apps, including some third-party apps.

  • When you hold down the Option key and click on Wi-Fi, it shows additional information about your wireless network such as your IP and router address.
  • When you hold down the Option key and click on Wi-Fi, you can see your iPhone's battery percentage and unique device identifier (UDID) when you hover over it under Personal Hotspot.
  • When you hold down the Option key and click on Wi-Fi, you can disconnect from the Wi-Fi network your Mac is currently connected to.
  • When you hold down Option and click on Time Machine, you can verify your backups and browse other back up disks.
  • When you hold down the Option key and click on Bluetooth, you'll see additional information about the version and address of your Bluetooth connection. You can also create a diagnostic report.
  • When you hold down the Option key and click the battery, you can see whether your battery's health is in good condition or needs to be replaced.
  • When you hold down the Option key and click on Notification Center, you can turn on or off Do Not Disturb.

Third party apps will sometimes include keyboard shortcuts, too. For example, when you hold down the Option key and click on the Fantastical Menu bar widget, it will automatically open a pop-up window of the full calendar app.

You can also hide or unhide an app in your Dock by holding down the Option key while clicking on it in your Dock.

You should definitely experiment with using the Option key while clicking on various apps and Menu bar widgets on your Mac. You never know what you're going to find!

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

4 Comments
  • Thanks, I didn't know you could click on a hidden app icon in the dock. Wait...what?! But seriously, thanks for the reminders about the option key. I just tried that tip on hiding an app icon, however, and it didn't work.
  • The hiding works for me, this is what I did: Had Safari open as the active window, then I did an option+click on Finder. Instead of Finder opening in front of Safari, it closed Safari at the same time as opening Finder. The extra information for the menu bar items is really useful, especially for people in the technical field and for diagnostics. The Wi-Fi extra information has been very valuable to me, I've resolved several issues thanks to it. Most recently I had an issue where the 5GHz band of a network was causing me slow internet and dropped packets, I only realized this was the case by using the option key to see that the problem went away when it switched to the 2.4GHz band
  • Thanks, but it doesn't work for me. (Not only that, but I had to do this reply in iOS because hitting "Reply" in my Mac's Safari gave me a window of code/gobbledygook. Go figure.)
  • The iMore page sometimes does that, they're working on the website so hopefully that'll get sorted out. The gobbledygook is JSON data, which is supposed to be read by the page behind the scenes when you click the reply button, but the bug means that it takes you directly to the data as its own page rather than loading in the background