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Add custom menu bar programs on macOS in three easy steps:

  • Write a shell script
  • Add it to SwiftBar
  • … there is no 3rd step!

You can get plugins from awesome BitBar repository, or in SwiftBar itself using the Get Plugins... menu item.

How to get SwiftBar

Download from GitHub Releases

or Install with Homebrew

brew install swiftbar

Runs on macOS Catalina (10.15) and up.

…or build it from source

  • Clone or download a copy of this repository
  • Open SwiftBar/SwiftBar.xcodeproj
  • Press play

Plugin Repository

SwiftBar is bundled with a Plugin Repository. You can access it at Swiftbar → Get Plugins…

A screenshot of SwiftBar’s Plugin Repository

If you want to add\remove plugin or have other questions about repository content please refer to this issue.

Creating Plugins

To add a new plugin to SwiftBar, you need to create an executable script following the required format (see below) and put it into Plugin Folder.

Plugin Folder

With the first launch, Swiftbar will ask you to set the Plugin Folder. SwiftBar will try to import every file in this folder as a plugin.


  • hidden folders are ignored
  • nested folders are traversed by SwiftBar, including symlinks

Plugin Naming

Plugin files must adopt the following format:

  • name – Anything you want.
  • time – Refresh interval (optional). Should be a number + duration modifier (see below)
  • ext – File extension.

Duration modifiers:

  • ms – milliseconds, e.g. 1ms – refresh every millisecond
  • s – seconds, e.g. 1s – refresh every second
  • m – minute, e.g. 10m – refresh every ten minutes
  • h – hour, e.g. 3h – refresh every three hours
  • d – day, e.g. 1d – refresh every day

Example filename: date.1m.sh

Plugin API

Plugin is an executable script in the language of your choice. When SwiftBar detects a new file in Plugin Folder it makes this file executable if needed and runs it.

Script should produce output (STDOUT) in the required format (see next chapter). Script errors should be redirected to STDERR.

Plugin API is adopted from the BitBar, which means that SwiftBar can run any existing BitBar plugin.

Script Output

When parsing plugin output SwiftBar recognizes the following blocks:

  • Header: responsible for what you see in the menu bar
  • Body: responsible for dropdown menu contents

Header is everything before first ---. Each --- after the first one will be interpreted as a menu separator.
You have one or more lines in the header.

The simplest plugin looks like this:

echo "This is Menu Title"

If you provide multiple titles, the provided titles will be cycled in the menu bar and shown in the dropdown menu:

echo "This is a primary Menu Title"
echo "This is a secondary Menu Title"
echo "This is a n-th Menu Title"
echo "---"
echo "This is not a Menu Title, this will be showed in the drop-down menu only"

Script output for both header and body is split by line (\n). Each line must follow this format:

<Item Title> | [param = ...] 


  • “Item Title” can be any string, this will be used as a menu item title.
  • [param = …] is an optional set of parameters\modificators. Each parameter is a key-value separated by =. Use | to separate parameters from the title.

Two-lines Title

Title line in Header section supports multiline, use \\n to separate lines, i.e.:

echo "Line 1 \\n Line2 | size=8"


Text Formatting:

Parameter Value Description
color CSS color or HEX, light_color,dark_color Sets item text color. If only one color is provided, it is used for both light and dark appearance.
sfcolor CSS color or HEX, light_color,dark_color Sets SF Symbol color. If only one color is provided, it is used for both light and dark appearance.
font macOS font name Sets font name to use in item text
size Number Sets item text size
length Number Trims item text to a provided number of characters. The full title will be displayed in a tooltip.
trim True Trims whitespace characters
ansi True Enables support of ANSI color codes. Conflicts with: symbolize
emojize False Disables parsing of GitHub style Emojis (e.g., :mushroom: into 🍄). Requires: symbolize=false.
symbolize False Disables parsing of SF Symbols (e.g., "SF Symbols Test :sun.max: :cloud.fill: :gamecontroller.fill: :bookmark: :sun.dust:"Screenshot of SF Symbols). Always False on Catalina.


Parameter Value Description
dropdown False Only applicable to items in Header. When set to False, item will not be displayed in dropdown menu, but will be cycled in the menu bar.
alternate True Marks a line as an alternative to the previous one for when the Option key () is pressed in the dropdown.
image Image encoded in Base64 Sets an image for item.
templateImage Image encoded in Base64 Same as image, but the image is a template image. Template images consist of black and clear colors (and an alpha channel). Template images are not intended to be used as standalone images and are usually mixed with other content to create the desired final appearance.
sfimage SFSymbol name Sets an image for item from SF Symbol. Only available on Big Sur and above.
checked True Sets a checkmark in front of the item.
tooltip Text Sets a tooltip for the item.


Parameter Value Description
refresh True Plugin Script will be executed on item click
href Absolute URL Sets an URL to open when item clicked
bash Absolute file path Executable script to run in Shell
terminal False bash script will be run in the background, instead of launching the Terminal
params param0=,param1=,param10= Parameters for bash script
shortcut CMD+OPTION+T Hotkey assigned to item. If item is in header, hotkey will show the menu; otherwise, hotkey will launch associated action.

Environment Variables

When running a plugin, SwiftBar sets the following environment variables:

Variable Value
SWIFTBAR_VERSION The running SwiftBar version number (in x.y.z format)
SWIFTBAR_BUILD The running SwiftBar build number (CFBundleVersion)
SWIFTBAR_PLUGINS_PATH The path to the Plugin Folder
SWIFTBAR_PLUGIN_PATH The path to the running plugin
OS_APPEARANCE Current macOS appearance (Light or Dark)
OS_VERSION_MAJOR The first part of the macOS version (e.g., 11 for macOS 11.0.1).
OS_VERSION_MINOR The second part of the macOS version (e.g., 0 for macOS 11.0.1).
OS_VERSION_PATCH The third part of the macOS version (e.g., 1 for macOS 11.0.1).

Script Metadata

It is recommended to include metadata in plugin script. Metadata is used in the About Plugin screen in SwiftBar.
SwiftBar adopts metadata format suggested by BitBar:

# <bitbar.title>Title goes here</bitbar.title>
# <bitbar.version>v1.0</bitbar.version>
# <bitbar.author>Your Name</bitbar.author>
# <bitbar.author.github>your-github-username</bitbar.author.github>
# <bitbar.desc>Short description of what your plugin does.</bitbar.desc>
# <bitbar.image>http://www.hosted-somewhere/pluginimage</bitbar.image>
# <bitbar.dependencies>python,ruby,node</bitbar.dependencies>
# <bitbar.abouturl>http://url-to-about.com/</bitbar.abouturl>
# <bitbar.droptypes>Supported UTI's for dropping things on menu bar</bitbar.droptypes>

Hiding default items

SwiftBar supports these optional metadata flags to hide default menu items:

# <swiftbar.hideAbout>true</swiftbar.hideAbout>
# <swiftbar.hideRunInTerminal>true</swiftbar.hideRunInTerminal>
# <swiftbar.hideLastUpdated>true</swiftbar.hideLastUpdated>
# <swiftbar.hideDisablePlugin>true</swiftbar.hideDisablePlugin>
# <swiftbar.hideSwiftBar>true</swiftbar.hideSwiftBar>

Option+Click will show all items:

Refresh schedule

A special tag can be used as an alternative to refresh interval defined in plugin’s name, value adopts Cron syntax:

<swiftbar.schedule>01,16,31,46 * * * *</swiftbar.schedule>

Other Parameters

  • <swiftbar.runInBash>false</swiftbar.runInBash> – doesn’t wrap plugins in Bash when running
  • <swiftbar.type>streamable</swiftbar.type> – mark plugin as Streamable
  • <swiftbar.environment>[var1:default value, var2:default value, ... ]</swiftbar.environment> – this variables will be passed in plugin’s environment, in later release SwiftBar will provide a UI to change values for these variables.

Metadata for Binary Plugins

For binary plugins metadata can be added as an extended file attribute:

xattr -w "com.ameba.SwiftBar" "$(cat metadata.txt | base64)" <plugin_file>

Plugin Types

Standard (default)

For Standard type of plugins, SwidtBar expects that plugin execution is finite, i.e., plugin runs and exits with output to stdout:

  • exit with code 0 and non-empty stdout – menu bar is built from the output
  • exit with code 0 and empty stdout – nothing in the menu bar
  • exit with code 1 – error shown in the menu bar

Optionally, a standard plugin can be run on a repeatable schedule, configured in the plugin’s file name or schedule metadata property.


Swiftbar launches a separate process for each Streamable plugin, which runs indefinitely until SwiftBar is closed or a failure.
You should use Stremable plugins only when dealing with a stream of incoming events; an example could be financial market info read from a websocket or CPU load information for a remote computer.

To let SwiftBar know when to update the menu bar item, Streamable plugins must use a special line separator ~~~. SwiftBar will reset the menu item on each occurrence of this separator.

In the example below, SwiftBar will show “Test 1” in the menu bar for 3 seconds, then nothing for 5 seconds, and “Test 2” indefinitely.


echo "Test 1"
echo "---"
echo "Test 2"
echo "Test 3"
sleep 3
echo "~~~"
sleep 5
echo "~~~"
echo "Test 2"

You can mark a plugin as streamable with a special metadata property <swiftbar.type>streamable</swiftbar.type>

URL Scheme

Endpoint Parameter Description Example
refreshallplugins none Force refresh all loaded plugins swiftbar://refreshallplugins
refreshplugin name plugin name Force refresh plugin by name swiftbar://refreshplugin?name=myplugin
refreshplugin index plugin index in menubar, starting from 0 Force refresh plugin by its position in menubar swiftbar://refreshplugin?index=1
addplugin src source URL to plugin file Add plugin to Swiftbar from URL swiftbar://addplugin?src=https://coolplugin
notify plugin plugin name. Notification fields: title, subtitle, body. href to open an URL on click (including custom URL schemes). silent=true to disable sound Show notification swiftbar://notify?plugin=MyPlugin&title=title&subtitle=subtitle&body=body&silent=true

Preferences aka ‘defaults’

List of preferences that are not exposed in SwiftBar UI:

  • defaults write com.ameba.SwiftBar DisableBashWrapper -bool YES – doesn’t wrap plugins in Bash when running
  • defaults write com.ameba.SwiftBar MakePluginExecutable -bool NO – disables auto chmod +x all files in Plugin Directory
  • defaults write com.ameba.SwiftBar PluginDeveloperMode -bool YES – enables editing in Preferences -> Plugins
  • defaults write com.ameba.SwiftBar StreamablePluginDebugOutput -bool YES – enables debug output for Streamable plugins, Swiftbar will expose the stream data in Console.App

Logs and Error

If plugin fails to run SwiftBar will show ⚠️ in the menu bar, you can see details by clicking on Error in dropdown menu.
Use macOS Console.app to view SwiftBar logs.


SwiftBar uses these open source libraries:

To freeze and secure dependencies these libraries are forked to SwiftBar organization.


SwiftBar can be translated here.

More Apps

If you enjoy SwiftBar you may like these as well:

  • TRex – Easy to use text extraction tool for macOS
  • Esse – Swiss army knife of text transformation for iOS and macOS