Of all the things I’ve cared about the least with the new MacBook Pro, the notch ranks number one.
As I’ve noted previously, suggesting that it is somehow ‘lazy design’ or deciding to pass on the laptop altogether because of its presence is missing the point entirely.
The notch is now an iconic element of Apple design, and we’re probably going to see it on more devices than ever before. It’s Apple’s way of incorporating a front-facing camera and sensor technology while continuing to shrink bezel sizes. Life is full of compromises.
But if you’re still put off by the notch, I’ve got two options for you.
Option 1: Live with it
Remember jelly scrolling on the new iPad mini? Yeah, I’d forgotten about it too, until I recently made a new video on that brilliant little tablet. The need to cover jelly scrolling once more was the only thing that reminded me of its existence.
Jelly scrolling is an issue on the iPad mini and more noticeable on that device than on any other LED display I’ve used. But it’s only noticeable if you go looking for it, which is nonsensical because that takes you away from whatever it is you should be doing.
The notch on the MacBook Pro is the same. Go looking for it, and you’ll find it – unless you’re running a full-screen app (or two), in which case the notch literally disappears from view.
But how often do you spend looking at the dead centre of your menu bar? For most people, there’s nothing to be seen up there 99.9% of the time. The good stuff is all happening beneath that portion of the screen.
I can save you some money today. If you want a new MacBook Pro but you’re worried about the impact the notch will have on your enjoyment of the device, just buy it and use it. You’ll forget the notch is there within seconds. I did.
Option 2: Install Bartender 4
I’m not one for installing third-party utilities on my Macs. Anything that messes with the guts of macOS bothers me slightly, no matter how considerately and carefully developed it is. I think this comes from years of tweaking and, inevitably, breaking PCs when I was younger. It was never, ever fun.
However, there is one legitimate area of concern among certain sections of The Notch Removal Movement, and that relates to the widgety things (I still don’t know what they’re called) one can place to the right of the menu bar.
Now we’re talking; I can relate to this. And not principally because of the notch, either – it’s just scarily easy to inadvertently destroy that part of the menu bar by installing too much stuff.
Add a few widgets from Control Centre, agree to a couple of apps placing their tools up there, and it fast becomes a confusing, ugly queue of unrelated icons and numbers. It also begins marching perilously close to The Dark Side of the Notch. Lose a widgety thing under there and, well, all hope is lost, right?
Thankfully, there’s a tool for this, which existed long before the notch was even a thing. It’s called Bartender 4 and it’s really rather good.
Bartender 4 gives you far greater control over the look of the menu bar and how it functions. For instance, you can hide as many (or all) of the widgets as you wish, enabling them to only surface – beneath the menu bar – when you move your mouse pointer up there or click the three-dot menu.
It also offers hotkeys for those menu bar items, the ability to set the spacing between them and even AppleScript support for the adventurous.
I installed Bartender 4 on my 16” MacBook Pro purely to assess its effectiveness in reducing Notch Anxiety and, although I’m fortunate to not have that affliction, I’m happy to report that, for those who do, this utility should make quite a difference. I won’t be uninstalling it, either, because it’s so useful. I’m forever on a mission to rid my screen of unnecessary clutter, and the ability to keep the menu bar as tidy as my desktop is very welcome indeed.
Bartender 4 won’t break the bank, but it is another expense that few people will want to contend with after spending so much money on a new MacBook Pro.
This is why Option 1 remains the best way to solve the Notch problem. Because it really isn’t a problem.
However, losing things behind the notch is, admittedly, a rather nonsensical, annoying thought. I doubt it’ll happen to most people, but Bartender 4 is a little gem – not only because it fixes that issue as far as the right-hand side of the menu bar is concerned, but because it offers utility which Apple really should be granting its users.
Are you bothered about the notch? Which option above makes the most sense to you?