PSA: Bartender Mac App Under New Ownership, But Lack of Transparency Raises Concerns

Popular Mac app Bartender appears to have been quietly sold approximately two months ago, with neither the prior owner nor the current owner providing customers or potential customers with information on the sale.

bartender app
The transaction came to light after some Reddit users saw a warning from MacUpdater letting them know that the company behind Bartender had been silently replaced. MacUpdater warned users that updates to the app from version 5.0.52 could be potentially unsafe due to the lack of transparency surrounding the situation.

Bartender's new owners replied to the Reddit thread and confirmed that Bartender had been acquired, but did not explain why customers had not been notified nor why there had been a certificate change without said explanation.

Hey everyone, new owners of Bartender here! Our team acquired Bartender from Ben S, the original developer, two months ago. As we prepare to roll out updates for Bartender, we needed to re-sign the app with Apple using our company's information, replacing Ben's. This led to a one-time certificate change.

Truth be told, we should have notated it on the release notes but, since we could not update them retroactively, we included this fact on our blog & shared it with users as they emailed us. We've collaborated closely with Ben to understand his vision for Bartender. Our goal is to implement many of the improvements he had planned and address any reported bugs from the past few months to enhance Bartender's performance.

Reddit users asked Bartender's owners for more information on their identity, but there was no response. The Bartender website was updated with information about the certificate change after users began seeing popups asking for new permissions, and while the blog post calls the new certificate request "expected and valid," no background information is provided on the purchase. In the Reddit thread, the owners claim to have posted information about the sale on the website, but that has turned out to be untrue.

At this point, it does not appear that Bartender's new owners plan to inform customers about the change in ownership, but users should be aware that the app has been sold and is no longer being updated by the original developer. The new owner's intentions are not clear, but as Reddit users have pointed out, the situation raises some red flags.

Update: Ben Surtees, the original developer of Bartender, today said that he sold the app to Applause three months ago. There is no other information on the company, and Applause still has not officially commented on the sale.

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Top Rated Comments

iObama Avatar
6 weeks ago

Easy solution,
Don’t download random apps you found on sketchy sites on the internet that you cannot verify the authenticity of, and don’t give any apps permission to screen record or access your drive or your personal information, unless you know it legitimately needs that access to do a function YOU want it do.

Problem solved.
I'm assuming you feel a sense of superiority writing that? Bartender is a well-known and trusted app for over a decade now. The issue here is that the ownership changed hands and no one was made aware of it.
Score: 68 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xeux Avatar
6 weeks ago
Apple should just make this part of the OS. It's ridiculous that a tool is needed to manage this.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
n-evo Avatar
6 weeks ago

Easy solution,
Don’t download random apps you found on sketchy sites on the internet that you cannot verify the authenticity of, and don’t give any apps permission to screen record or access your drive or your personal information, unless you know it legitimately needs that access to do a function YOU want it do.

Problem solved.
Way to completely missing the point. Bartender was far from a “random app” found on a “sketchy site”. The reason it needed screen recording permissions on recent macOS releases has been well explained too. Might wanna keep these lectures to yourself until you grasp what’s actually going on.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jensen G Avatar
6 weeks ago

the screen recording permission is sus. have disabled the app for now
Bartender has required screen recording permissions since macOS Catalina (see the post about it here ('https://www.macbartender.com/Screen-Recording-Permission/#:~:text=With%20macOS%20Catalina%2C%20Bartender%20requires,does%20not%20record%20the%20screen.&text=Bartender%20does%20not%20capture%20any,images%20of%20the%20menu%20bar.')), and that was well before the new ownership. But still, this is worth being cautious about until the new owners make themselves known. A letter from Ben Surtees, the old owner, would also go a long way.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ken Linger Avatar
6 weeks ago

Easy solution,
Don’t download random apps you found on sketchy sites on the internet that you cannot verify the authenticity of, and don’t give any apps permission to screen record or access your drive or your personal information, unless you know it legitimately needs that access to do a function YOU want it do.

Problem solved.
I think you're missing the point. The original product that we purchased did check all your boxes in terms of requirements. The screen recording was a necessary part of the tool. It is only with the change in ownership and lack of transparency (from the company, not the menu bar :)) that the permissions we previously granted are now feared as potential exploits from the new owner.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
verdi1987 Avatar
6 weeks ago

Easy solution,
Don’t download random apps you found on sketchy sites on the internet that you cannot verify the authenticity of, and don’t give any apps permission to screen record or access your drive or your personal information, unless you know it legitimately needs that access to do a function YOU want it do.

Problem solved.
That’s not this situation, so not “problem solved.”
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)