Skip to main content

Tips & Tricks

Batching of configuration commands

It is possible to batch commands together into a single call to SketchyBar, this can be helpful to keep the configuration file a bit cleaner and also to reduce startup times. Assume 5 individual configuration calls to SketchyBar:

sketchybar --bar position=top
sketchybar --bar margin=5
sketchybar --add item demo left
sketchybar --set demo label=Hello
sketchybar --subscribe demo system_woke

after each configuration command the bar is redrawn (if needed), thus it is faster to append these calls into a single command like so:

sketchybar --bar position=top           \
margin=5 \
--add item demo left \
--set demo label=Hello \
--subscribe demo system_woke

The backslash at the end of the first 4 lines is the default bash way to join lines together and should not be followed by a whitespace.

Using bash arrays for cleaner configuration

Lets assume this bar configuration command (from the default config):

sketchybar --bar height=32        \
blur_radius=30 \
position=top \
sticky=off \
padding_left=10 \
padding_right=10 \

We can rewrite this as a bash array to get rid of the backslashes and pass the contents of the array to the --bar command:


sketchybar --bar "${bar[@]}"

Debugging Problems

If you are experiencing problems with the configuration of SketchyBar it might be helpful to work through the following steps:

  • 1.) Start sketchybar directly from the commandline to see the verbose error/warning messages
  • 2.) Make sure you have no trailing whitespaces after the bash newline escape char \
  • 3.) Make sure your scripts are made executable via: chmod +x
  • 4.) Reduce the configuration to a minimal example and narrow down the problematic region
  • 5.) Try running erroneous scripts directly in the commandline
  • 6.) Query SketchyBar for relevant properties and use them to deduce the problems root cause
  • 7.) Create an Issue on GitHub, a second pair of eyes might now be the only thing that helps

Color Picker

SketchyBar uses the argb hex color format, which means: 0xAARRGGBB encodes a color.

Try the Picker!

Finding Icons

The default font SketchyBar uses is the Hack Nerd Font which means all Nerdfont icons can be used. Refer to the Nerdfont cheat-sheet to find new icons.

Additionally, it is possible to use other icons and glyphs from different fonts, such as the sf-symbols from apple. Those symbols can be installed via brew:

brew install --cask sf-symbols

After installing this package, an app called SF Symbols will be available where you can find all the available icons. Once you find a fitting icon, right click it, select Copy Symbol and paste it in the relevant configuration file.

If you are looking for stylised app icons you might want to checkout the excellent community maintained app-icon-font for SketchyBar.

Multiple Bars

It is possible to have multiple independent instances of SketchyBar running. This is possible by changing the argv[0] of the sketchybar program. This is very easy, e.g. by symlinking the sketchybar binary with a different name, e.g. bottom_bar:

ln -s $(which sketchybar) $(dirname $(which sketchybar))/bottom_bar

This symlink can now be used to spawn and target an additional bar, i.e. for this bar we do not call sketchybar --bar color=0xffff0000, but rather bottom_bar --bar color=0xffff0000 and start it by running bottom_bar in the commandline.

The config path for this additional bar is in $HOME/.config/bottom_bar/. Of course bottom_bar is only an example and can be freely replaced with any other identifier.

Performance optimizations

SketchyBar can be configured to have a very small performance footprint. In the following I will highlight some optimizations that can be used to reduce the footprint further.

  • Batch together configuration commands where ever possible.
  • Set updates=when_shown for items that do not need to run their script if they are not rendered.
  • Reduce the update_freq of scripts and aliases and use event-driven scripting when ever possible.
  • Do not add aliases to apps that are not always running, otherwise SketchyBar searches for them continuously.
  • (Advanced; Only >=v2.9.0) Use compiled mach_helper programs that directly interface with SketchyBar example for performance sensitive tasks