How to Get started with BitBar

Mac Format - - APPLE SKILLS -

1 Cre­ate a folder

On first start­ing up BitBar, it’ll dis­play a di­a­log box so you can de­cide where its plug-ins will be stored. Cre­ate a new folder in your cho­sen lo­ca­tion (per­haps one called BitBar in your Doc­u­ments folder) and click Use as Plu­g­ins Di­rec­tory.

2 Ac­ti­vate BitBar

You should now see BitBar in the menu bar. Right now, it doesn’t do an aw­ful lot — you can click to open its menu and change the plug-ins folder, set the app to open at lo­gin, or quit it en­tirely. We need to in­stall some plug-ins!

3 Check out plug-ins

In BitBar’s menu, click Get Plu­g­ins. You’ll be sent back to the web­site you down­loaded the app from. Let’s start with a plug-in for quickly rat­ing iTunes tracks. In the Mu­sic sec­tion (on the left), find iTunes Rat­ing.

4 In­stall the plug-in

Click Add to BitBar un­der the plug-in and a con­fir­ma­tion di­a­log will ap­pear. Click In­stall. In the menu bar, the ‘BitBar’ text will be re­placed by the plug-in’s icon. If iTunes isn’t open, this will be a mu­si­cal note — click it and choose Launch iTunes.

5 Use the plug-in

Prior to iTunes play­ing, the wid­get might regis­ter an er­ror, but as soon as you play a track, the wid­get should show the cor­re­spond­ing star rat­ing. You can up­date this by click­ing the stars in the menu bar and choos­ing a new rat­ing.

6 In­stall a timer

From the Time sec­tion of BitBar’s web­site, in­stall the Po­modoro Timer plug‑in. When ac­ti­vated by choos­ing Work from its menu, it starts a 25-minute countdown that cy­cles with three-minute breaks to keep you fo­cussed.

7 Power up the Clip­board

From the Sys­tem sec­tion, in­stall Clip­board His­tory. This places a clip­board icon in the menu bar. Click it and you can ac­cess the last ten pieces of text or links you copied. To send an item back to the Clip­board, just choose it from the menu.

8 A ‘Now play­ing’ wid­get

From Mu­sic, in­stall Adam Kenyon’s ‘Now play­ing’ plug-in. When mu­sic’s play­ing, this dis­plays the track name, mak­ing it a handy com­pan­ion to the rat­ing plug-in. Open its menu to ac­cess play­back con­trols and artist info.

9 Edit a plug-in

Open BitBar’s plug-ins folder (pick Pref­er­ences > Open Plu­gin Folder from any BitBar plug-in’s menu) and then open the now­play­ing.sh script in a text ed­i­tor. In the out­put sec­tion, find the part that starts echo "$track | length=40". 10 Make some changes Af­ter the open­ing quote, add

$artist: and save the file. You should now see the artist and track name in the menu bar, to a max­i­mum of 40 char­ac­ters as stip­u­lated in the script — you can change that too, if you like.

11 Get a cur­rency tracker

In Fi­nance, in­stall Cur­rency Tracker. By de­fault, this cy­cles through how many US and Cana­dian dol­lars you get for a Euro. In BitBar’s plug-ins folder, open cur­rency-tracker.py in your text ed­i­tor and find the cur­rFrom and cur­rTo val­ues.

12 Edit cur­rency set­tings

To set a new base com­par­i­son cur­rency, change cur­rFrom’s EUR to some­thing else (say, GBP). Then up­date the cur­rTo list as you like. Save, then pick Pref­er­ences > Re­fresh all from BitBar’s menu. Your new set­tings will be ap­plied.

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