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Start / Stop AWS EC2 instances from your MacOS menu bar

xbar to the rescue!

I was looking for a convenient way to start or stop AWS EC2 instances, for example from the MacOS menu bar.
And the internet / GitHub did not let me down: xbar is the way to go!

GitHub – matryer/xbar: Put the output from any script or program into your macOS Menu Bar (the BitBar reboot)


With xbar you can use many plugins; I am just using this one to start my EC2 instances:

xbar-plugins/ at main · matryer/xbar-plugins

The installation notes are in that file as well:

# Installation:
# 1. Copy this script to your BitBar plugin folder
# 2. Ensure the plugin file is executable by running chmod +x
# 3. Change your AWS profile in the AWS_CLI_PROFILE variable below
# Notes: Optionally, to display the instace name in bitbar, use the key "Name" in AWS EC2 Tags

The plugin folder is ~/Library/Application Support/xbar/plugins


Be also aware of the Dependencies:
awscli (
jq (

That means you have to setup your awscli before e. g. the command aws ec2 describe-instances should output your current EC2 instances – then you are good to go to use the AWS profile within xbar. I created a new AWS profile just for EC2 management and added that to AWS CLI.


The setup was quite straightforward – and if you already have an AWS CLI profile setup it is even quicker. I like the fast and easy way to start my EC2 instances for demos. All my EC2 instances are ALWAYS stopped at 6PM every day with an AWS CloudFormation stack
NONE of my VMs are started automatically, I always do that via xbar (or the AWS mobile application) on demand – to save costs and also save resources. 🌱

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