How To Use Bartender Mac App New Ownership

Recently, the popular menu bar organizer, Bartender, underwent a significant transformation that has left many users questioning its future. This article will guide you through the recent changes in Bartender’s ownership, how to use the app effectively in its new phase, and what these changes mean for you as a user.

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A Change in the Wind: Bartender’s New Ownership

Two months ago, the Mac community was surprised to learn that Bartender, a staple in many users’ workflow, had changed hands. The app, previously developed by Ben S., was acquired by a group of developers whose identities remain unknown. This shift in ownership has raised eyebrows and concerns among the app’s loyal user base.

The Silent Transfer

The transition was notably quiet. Users weren’t informed about the change in ownership through any official channels. It was only through a blog post and a Reddit thread that the news surfaced, leaving many users feeling left in the dark. This lack of transparency has become a point of contention, as users express their unease about the app’s future direction.

The Certificate Conundrum

One of the first signs of change was a certificate switch. The new owners needed to re-sign the app with their company’s information, leading to a one-time certificate change. This change, while necessary from a technical standpoint, was not mentioned in the app’s release notes. Instead, it was quietly shared on the blog and in a Reddit thread, further adding to users’ concerns about transparency.

How to Use Bartender 5 Under New Management

Despite the concerns, Bartender 5 is here, and many users still rely on its functionality. Here’s how to navigate using the app under its new ownership:

1. Understand Compatibility

First things first: Bartender 5 is exclusively compatible with macOS Sonoma. If you’re running an older version of macOS, you’ll need to upgrade to use this latest version of Bartender. This compatibility constraint is crucial to keep in mind, as it might require some users to make significant system changes.

2. Price and Upgrades

Bartender 5 isn’t a free upgrade for everyone. However, if you purchased Bartender 4 from July 2022 onwards, you’re in luck. You’re entitled to a free upgrade to Bartender 5. For everyone else, you’ll need to purchase a new license. It’s important to weigh this cost against your need for the app’s functionality.

3. Handle the Certificate Change

Upon updating to Bartender 5, you might notice the app requesting new permissions. This is due to the certificate change implemented by the new owners. To resolve this:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Navigate to Screen & System Audio Recording
  3. Remove Bartender from the list
  4. Re-add Bartender

This process essentially resets the app’s permissions, aligning them with the new certificate.

4. Explore New Features and Bug Fixes

Despite the ownership change, development hasn’t stalled. The new owners claim to be implementing improvements that were in the pipeline from the original developer. They’re also working on enhancing the app’s performance and addressing bugs that have been reported over the past few months. Keep an eye on the release notes to see what enhancements are available.

The Elephant in the Room: Security and Trust

The most significant concern surrounding Bartender’s new ownership is security. In an era where data privacy is paramount, users are rightfully questioning the safety of an app whose new owners remain anonymous.

Transparency Issues

The lack of transparency about who now owns Bartender is unsettling for many. Without knowing the intentions or track record of the new developers, users are left to wonder about the app’s future direction. Will it maintain its focus on user privacy? Will new features respect user data? These questions remain unanswered.

Potential Risks

The certificate change, while a standard procedure in ownership transfers, also raises security flags. Users are granting new permissions to an entity they know little about. In a worst-case scenario, malicious actors could exploit this trust to access sensitive information or system controls.

Alternatives to Consider

Given these concerns, many users are exploring alternatives to Bartender. Here’s a table comparing some popular options:

App NameKey FeaturesCompatibilityPriceDeveloper Transparency
iBarMenu bar organization, customizable iconsmacOS Big Sur and later$4.99High – Known developer
IceMinimalist design, quick togglesmacOS Catalina and laterFreeMedium – Open source
HiddenBarSimple hide/show functionalitymacOS Mojave and laterFreeHigh – GitHub project
BarbeeAdvanced customization, themesmacOS Big Sur and later$9.99High – Active community

Each of these apps offers a way to manage your menu bar, with varying levels of features and developer transparency. When choosing an alternative, consider not just the functionality, but also the trustworthiness of the developers behind the app.

Make an Informed Decision

Deciding whether to continue using Bartender under its new ownership is a personal choice that depends on your risk tolerance and needs.

Assess Your Comfort Level

How much do you value developer transparency? If knowing who’s behind your apps is crucial, Bartender’s current situation might be too uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you’re more concerned with functionality and are willing to take some risks, you might find the changes acceptable.

Evaluate Necessity

Consider how integral Bartender is to your workflow. Is its menu bar organization a nice-to-have, or is it essential? If you can’t imagine working without it, you might be more inclined to stick with it despite the changes. If it’s just a convenience, this might be the push you need to try something new.

Stay Informed

Keep an eye on Bartender’s updates and community discussions. The new owners might eventually reveal more about themselves or provide clearer communication. User feedback in forums and review sections can also offer insights into how the app is performing under new management.

Conclusion: Navigate Uncharted Waters

The recent changes in Bartender’s ownership have left users in uncharted waters. The app’s functionality remains strong, with Bartender 5 offering improvements and bug fixes. However, the lack of transparency from the new owners casts a shadow over its future.

Using Bartender 5 requires not just technical steps like handling certificate changes and ensuring macOS compatibility, but also a personal assessment of trust. In today’s digital landscape, where apps have access to our most private spaces, developer trustworthiness is as critical as feature sets.

Whether you choose to continue with Bartender, switch to an alternative, or wait for more information, make your decision thoughtfully. Consider your technical needs, your comfort with unknowns, and the broader implications of supporting apps with ambiguous ownership.

The Bartender saga serves as a reminder that in our interconnected digital lives, changes in the apps we rely on can have far-reaching effects. As users, our choices—what we install, what we pay for, what we trust—shape the future of software development. In navigating these changes, we’re not just organizing our menu bars; we’re influencing the values that will guide the next generation of apps.

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