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New in OS X El Capitan: How to Hide the Menu Bar

Posted by Jim Tanous on October 2, 2015
os x el capitan

It’s no secret that, after the disastrous reliability of Yosemite in its early days, Apple focused its efforts for OS X El Capitan on performance and stability. But that doesn’t mean that Apple’s latest operating system is devoid of new features.
One neat new feature in OS X El Capitan is the ability to hide your desktop Menu Bar, similar to how previous versions of OS X let users automatically hide the Dock. When enabled, the Menu Bar slides up off the top edge of your Mac’s screen, and any user interface elements that were previously restricted by the Menu Bar’s presence – such as sorted desktop icons – will automatically move up to occupy the added space.
But this doesn’t mean the Menu Bar is gone for good; after all, the OS X Menu Bar is home to key functions in many apps. Once you hide the Menu Bar (we’ll show you how, below), you can always access it by moving your mouse or trackpad cursor up to the very top of the screen. After your cursor reaches that top edge, you’ll experience a delay of about half a second before finally seeing the bar slide back down from the top of your Mac’s display, just like how the Dock reacts when hidden.
hide menu bar os x el capitan
Unlike the Dock, however, we haven’t yet found a way to adjust the time delay between when your cursor hits the top of the screen and the Menu Bar appears. This can cause a frustrating point of contention for users who prefer instant access without a delay or “drop in” animation.
The hidden Menu Bar isn’t completely new for OS X El Capitan. In previous versions of the operating system, the Menu Bar was automatically hidden when the user enabled full screen mode for compatible apps. What’s new here in El Capitan is that the user can finally banish the Menu Bar even on the Desktop, allowing for maximum screen real estate for your apps which either don’t support full screen mode, or work better in windowed mode.

How to Hide the Menu Bar

To hide the Menu Bar in OS X El Capitan, head to Settings > General. There, you’ll find a new checkbox beneath last year’s neat feature: dark mode for the Dock and Menu Bar. What we’re looking for, however, is the option labeled Automatically hide and show the menu bar.
hide menu bar os x el captian
Check that box and your Mac’s Menu Bar will instantly slide up and out of view, with any desktop icons repositioning themselves to compensate. As mentioned, simply move your mouse or trackpad cursor all the way to the top edge of the screen to temporarily reveal the Menu Bar again.
If you ever tire of the hidden Menu Bar and want to turn this feature off, just head back to Settings > General and uncheck the designated box. There’s no need to reboot or log off when enabling or disabling the hidden Menu Bar; the change happens instantly as you check or uncheck the box.

11 thoughts on “New in OS X El Capitan: How to Hide the Menu Bar”

Snead Hearn says:
It has disappeared. It shows when I move the cursor to it. It want it back, al the time. The “Automatically hide and show the menu bar” box is NOT checked. Help!
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Henkehakan says:
Same here, I hate it. It has no effect turning that on or off. It is ALWAYS in autohide, regardless of safari browser, firefox in full screen. Something’s missing. A bug. What I don’t like is that it reseted it from my former setting (always visible) which was default set to “always show”. 10.11.6. I thought it was something in the actual browser setting but it’s not. Annoys the * out of me. Have a 15″ screen, don’t need full blown…without menu.
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Josh Work says:
Amazing. I’ve been wanting this for over a year! Thank you and rock on. ๐Ÿ™‚
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John Stanowski KaijuAddicts says:
The switch doesn’t work for me. It hides the menu bar whether the box is checked or unchecked.
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B. Terclinger says:
It doesn’t work for you (or me, or for millions) because Apple is more concerned with emojis, selling sh*t music and overpriced headphones, and promoting “proggie” values than they are in maintaining the interface.
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R3d Baron says:
So now that I’ve opened an app by accident in fullscreen – I can’t get the menu bar to stop auto-hiding when that program is open as a window. How do I get it to revert back so the menu bar is always visible?
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job applicant says:
this option is not there in my system
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TekRevue says:
Are you sure you’re running OS X El Capitan? (Click the Apple Menu in the top left corner of the screen and select About This Mac. Your version number should be 10.11.X).
Alternatively, are you currently using a guest or restricted user account?
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fermentinglife says:
How do I get my dock and menu bar to show up on my second display?
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nicmart says:
I’ve owned dozens of Macs since 1984. Now I own a MB Air and and iMac. There is not question that El Capitan is the buggiest Mac OS I’ve ever used. That leaves aside software design decisions that have made the OS harder and harder to use. There are times, for instance, when it is impossible for find the sliver-thin scroll bar, if there is one. Frequently there is none to be found. The Mac has become a pretty face with no brain.
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Caedmon Michael says:
Even after you’ve selected “Always”? (I’m assuming from your experience that you know where to change the scroll bar settings and have done so.)
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nicmart says:
That’s right, I’ve done so. Next question?
Caedmon Michael says:
Nope. I just know that selecting Always means I always have scroll bars, which I like. Even us experienced users can miss the little things. So I offered the little bit of help I could, knowing there was a good chance it would be left unneeded.
nicmart says:
Thank you for your suggestion.
Steve Rose says:
there’s currently a bug with disabling this feature in Safari: you have to restart Safari in order to see the menu again once you have unticked the box in preferences
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intrr says:
You are really talented in explaining the simplest thing in the largest amount of words possible. Though I’m not sure if that will help you save the world.
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TekRevue says:
I assume you’ve never had professional consumer-focused tech support experience? We try to present topics in the most basic way possible, ensuring that readers understand not just what to do but also why they’re doing it. If you think it’s too simple or “wordy,” then that’s great! It merely confirms what you probably already know: that you’re smarter than most people!
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grasshopper_fxl says:
and about time too!!! how long has it taken for Apple to implement this simplest of features? what? 10 ~ 15 years??? i used to despise Windows, but honestly, at least on Windows one didn’t have to mess around with PLISTs to tweak the UI just to auto-hide a stupid menubar.
for the life of me, i still can’t figure out why OSX has the least customizable UI ever. a total let-down. not to mention the horrendous design decision re the file system, as Linus pointed out already years ago. and i could go on and on. unfortunately, it’s a long list. why people keep buying is a testament to the power of marketing.
but for those who wonder, well then… where / how can i get a decent machine? simple: ASUS for bleeding-edge performance, and either Windows 10 or Linux Ubuntu. ASUS also makes phones and tablets running Android. overall, a superior user experience.
ok, end of rant. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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