Whenever someone uses my computer I always hear, "Hey! My computer doesn't have all that stuff. How did you get that?"
They are referring to the menubar icons in the top right corner of my screen. Most of the plugins/programs I've installed monitor the hardware of the computer. Kinda nerdy, but I watched them like a hawk when I had a MacBook Air. The thing ran hot, overheated, and constantly crashed on me. Here's each menubar item in detail:
Let's say I hypothetically download a pirated copy of a program (e.g. Photoshop CS4), CD, or DVD. Sometimes there are small scripts that report back to homebase and send information about your computer. Little Snitch monitors all outgoing attempts for a program to establish an outside connection. Basically, it keeps you out of jail.
This handy plugin will alert you of new mail in your Gmail inbox and upcoming events on your Google calendar. You can also add events to your calendar and view upcoming events for the whole month, in the menubar, without having to log-in to Google. I always keep a tab in Gmail open so I only use the calendar functions in Google Notifier.
I could spend a significant amount of time and space trying to describe the ins and outs of Dropbox; but their 8 minute video does the trick. Click on the link above, watch the video, and be amazed. Dropbox works like magic.
I played around with a couple desktop Twitter applications (Twirl, TweetDeck, etc.) before settling on Twitteriffic. I like how simple it is and I especially like the keyboard shortcuts. You may fancy some of the other programs; agree to disagree.
I had an awful experience with my MacBook Air overheating and crashing. I first learned of smcFanControl from Paul Stamatiou's post about his own problems/solutions with the Macbook Air. I've moved on to a MacBook Pro but I've kept a watchful eye on fan speeds and the temperature of the computer.
6. Time Machine
Time Machine is an Apple product bundled with the latest operating system, Leopard. Every hour this icon starts spinning letting me know my information is safely backed up to my 1 terabyte external hard drive. That's right I said ter-a-byte bitxhz! I'm crossing my fingers when Time Machine offers backup to the cloud.
The next two icons (U and F, and red/blue graph) are a plugin called MenuMeters. The U stands for Used memory; the F for Free memory. The numbers add up to 4000, hence 4 gigabytes of RAM. The red/blue graphs represents the load my processors are under. Two graphs for two cores in the Intel Core 2 Duo.
8. Battery Status, Clock, and Spotlight
The final three icons are standard OS X menu items. Battery and Clock are great for quick glances. Quicksilver has ruled Spotlight obsolete. If I could remove the Spotlight icon I would.