8/20/11 UPDATE: Just a few days after this post went live, the developer of MenuWeather Lite announced that MenuWeather Lite would be discontinued. His web site indicates that it will remain in the App Store for a month or two, but I can no longer find it in the App Store. The paid version, now $1,99, is still there.
If you want to be able to quickly check the weather on a Mac, check out MenuWeather Lite. The app places an icon in your menu bar that displays the temperature and general conditions, such as cloudy or sunny, at a predetermined location. Click on the icon, and a dropdown list appears, showing you more detailed current conditions, and a five day forecast. The drop down also contains a link to a 10 day forecast, hour by hour forecast, radar map, and weekend and monthly forecasts.
The preferences for the app allow you to set it to load at system startup, and to alter the interval at which MenuWeatherLite pulls down updated weather information. You can also change the app’s units of measure between metric and imperial, set your default location, assign a name to your location (such as “home” or “work”), and input additional preset locations. You can also force a refresh of data, which will update the current conditions and the forecast.
The app also provides for a handful of options to customize its appearance. These customization options let you change the appearance of the information in the menu bar (text, icon, or text and icon), as well as change the font size and color of the information in the app.
MenuWeather Lite is free in the Mac app store. A paid version of the app, MenuWeather, is also available. At the time of publication of this post, you can get it for $2.99 U.S (UPDATE: As of August 20, 2011, the price is $1.99. As noted above, the free version was recently discontinued). This paid version adds severe weather alerts, extended forecasts, and Doppler radar images. I haven’t tried the paid version yet, so I can’t vouch for it.
I normally don’t like to clutter my system with too many menu bar items, but with the power of current systems, I haven’t noticed a slow down. I have the app configured to update conditions every 15 minutes. I also find that I rarely actually visit weather sites now, as this app gives me what I need at a glance.
MenuWeather Lite [free version in the Mac App Store]
MenuWeather [paid version in the Mac App Store]