AMITIAE -Monday 27 October 2014

Cassandra: Menubar Icons and the Option Key

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By Graham K. Rogers


I am currently in the middle of rewriting the examination of System Preferences in OS X 10.10, Yosemite. I am up to Internet Accounts, so I am about halfway through. Although there are similarities between the preferences in Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite, there are enough subtle differences to need a close examination of each panel as I go through these.

A couple of interesting points have appeared concerning user-accessible features that are not directly related to the preferences, but have an impact (albeit slight) on the way a user would be able to interact with the features.

For example, it has been known for a while that pressing the Option key while clicking on the menubar icon for Wi-Fi, reveals a menu with a lot more information, some of which may be useful when diagnosing problems. But this additional display feature also opens doors in other menubar icon menus, like Bluetooth.

Option extras Option extras

Additional items in the extended Bluetooth menu allow diagnostics to be carried out and devices to be connected or removed, as well as displaying device numbers, which are important when monitoring and allow specific devices to be identified.

Looking through the menubar icons I have available, I found no additional items for the Accessibility menu, Messages or Scripts, but the open Time Machine menu changed as the Option key was pressed: the items Backup Now and Enter Time Machine, changed to Verify Backups (greyed out) and Browse Other Backup Disks.

Option extras Option extras

A surprise was that the speaker icon that normally reveals a slider to adjust sound volume, was changed to a text menu when the Option key was used that revealed input and output devices available. The battery (or power supply) menu also changed if the Option key was pressed or not.

Option extras Option extras Option extras Option extras

Neither the keyboard switcher, the date, fast user switching, nor Spotlight icons changed when the Option key was pressed.

In my installation (as above) the menus revealed by pressing menubar icons for the following items show additional information:

  • Bluetooth
  • Time Machine (when the menu is already open)
  • Wi-Fi
  • Sound (speaker)
  • Power Source

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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