It’s not working!

Boring Old Menu Bar works by changing your desktop wallpaper. It takes a screenshot of your current wallpaper, superimposes a rectangle of the right color then swaps your wallpaper for the new version. Knowing this can demystify what is going on.

There is currently (as of macOS 11.1) a bug where macOS will not correctly change wallpapers if you are using a custom solid color as your wallpaper. Boring Old Menu Bar can therefore not support this configuration and if you want to use it, you need to change your wallpaper to something else.

If you are using Spaces (i.e. multiple desktops / workspaces), each space has its own wallpaper. Boring Old Menu Bar takes around 5 seconds to recognize that you have switched to a workspace that it hasn’t seen before and then takes another few seconds to change the wallpaper. If you switch away quicker, the change won’t stick. Once the wallpaper is changed, it stays changed. The same goes for making apps “full screen”. Wait and it will work.

If you run dynamic wallpapers (e.g. scenes where the lighting changes, etc) or use the slide show options for your wallpaper, read the section on dynamic wallpapers.

Dynamic Wallpapers

Dynamic wallpapers are desktop backgrounds that change throughout the day. Boring Old Menu Bar allows you to automatically update your wallpaper at regular intervals.

  • right click the menu bar item and select your preferred update interval in the Dynamic Wallpaper submenu.

Each update will cause the menu bar to become transparent for a few seconds before re-appearing, so how often you want to update the wall paper depends on how much you mind this. Refresh Once an Hour is probably the best setting for most people, most of the time.

If you are not using dynamic wallpaper, it’s best to switch the feature off by selecting No Automatic Refresh.

Automatically React to Changes

Boring Old Menu Bar can react automatically to changes in:

  • switching from dark mode to light mode or vice-versa
  • changing the resolution of a screen
  • adding or removing a display
  • on wake up from sleep

Again this will lead to the menu bar becoming transparent for a few moments. If you find this annoying you can switch off the feature:

  • right click the menu bar item and untick the Automatically React to Changes menu item.

You can configure this delay. It is set to 3 seconds by default which should work on most setups. If your Mac takes longer than 3 seconds to wake from sleep, this can lead to a black wallpaper being displayed. In that event, you need to increase this delay.

You can manually adjust the menu bar background by using the main on/off switch:

  • left click the menu bar item
  • click on the on/off switch at the top left to deactivate the menu bar background
  • click on the on/off switch again to re-activate the menu bar background

My Desktop Wallpaper is Black!

Boring Old Menu Bar works by taking a screenshot of your desktop background and changing it. There are situations, especially if you are running a multi-screen setup with third party displays that take a few seconds to wake from sleep that macOS is still busy waking up the screen and setting the wallpaper, when Boring Old Menu Bar takes its desktop background screenshot.. in which case the background will be pure black.

Starting with version 1.08, the Black Screen Detection is switched on by default and should avoid the problem described above.. but it creates another one.

If you actually run an all-black wallpaper, you need to switch off Black Screen Detection:

  • right click on the menu bar icon
  • if Enable Black Screen Detection shows up with a tick next to, disable it by selecting it

Using Multiple Desktops aka “Spaces”

This is the worst case scenario for Boring Old Menu Bar. As of Big Sur, there is no API that an application can use to find out which space is showing or even that there are multiple spaces. Each space can have its own wallpaper though. Boring Old Menu Bar works by changing the wallpaper to provide a nice uniform background for your menu bar.. so it needs to change the wallpaper of each desktop individually, but it has no access to this unless you are on that space.

As long as you keep the React to Changes menu item ticked, Boring Old Menu Bar will eventually put a menu bar background on each of your desktops, so you can just activate it and let it do its thing.

If you want to speed things along:

  • activate Boring Old Menu Bar
  • visit each one of your desktops in turn and wait for Boring Old Menu Bar to change its background before moving on to the next one.

Boring Old Menu Bar is taking up a precious menu bar item slot!

Give it back! Find out how here.

Best Setups for Specific Usage Scenarios

Boring Old Menu Bar works by changing your wallpaper. Every time it changes the wallpaper there’s going to be a slow “flash” where the menu bar disappears and then re-appears. Depending on your psychological makeup (ha!) this may be more or less annoying to you.

The default settings are chosen to catch all common cases: wallpaper changes, resolution changes, multiple desktops (i.e. “Spaces”), dynamic wallpapers and fairly slow Mac “wake up” times.

Below is a guide to minimize these flashes based on which features you need.

I never change wallpapers or resolutions and do not use Spaces or Dynamic Wallpapers

This is the easiest setup by far.

  • untick Automatically React
  • select No Automatic Refresh in the Dynamic Wallpaper submenu

No flashes!

I use Dynamic Wallpapers, but I never change wallpapers or resolutions and do not use Spaces

  • untick Automatically React
  • select Refresh Every Second Hour from the Dynamic Wallpaper submenu

One flash every two hours.

I use Spaces and/or I change resolutions and wallpapers frequently, but I don’t use Dynamic Wallpapers

  • tick Automatically React
  • select No Automatic Refresh in the Dynamic Wallpaper submenu

One flash whenever you wake up your machine.

I use Dynamic Wallpapers, but I never change resolutions, wallpapers and I do not use Spaces

  • untick Automatically React
  • select Refresh Every Second Hour from the Dynamic Wallpaper submenu

One flash every two hours and whenever you wake up your machine.

I need to uninstall/ re-install

To uninstall completely:

  • quit Boring Old Menu Bar
  • go to the Finder, select the Go menu, hold down the Opt key, select Library
  • open the Application Support folder and find the Boring Old Menu Bar folder
  • move the entire Boring Old Menu Bar folder into the trash/ wastebasket
  • optionally, find the net.publicspace.Boring-Old-Menu-Bar in the Preferences sub-folder of your Library folder and delete that too

If things got seriously out of whack, you might still have wallpapers with artefacts on them. If that is the case, use the System Preferences -> Desktop & Screensaver panel to set your original wallpapers.

To re-install, just launch the application.