Utilities: Your Mac OS X Toolbox

The Utilities folder (inside your Applications folder) is home to another batch of freebies: another couple dozen tools for monitoring, tuning, tweaking, and troubleshooting your Mac.

The truth is, though, that you’re likely to use only about six of these utilities. The rest are very specialized gizmos primarily of interest only to network administrators or Unix geeks who are obsessed with knowing what kind of computer-code gibberish is going on behind the scenes.


Tip: Even so, Apple obviously noticed that as the sophistication of Mac OS X fans grows, more people open the Utilities folder more often. That’s why Panther features, for the first time, a menu command and a keystroke that can take you there. In the Finder, choose GoUtilities (Shift-Utilities: Your Mac OS X Toolbox-U).

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is the result of a merger between two earlier Mac OS X programs known as Process Viewer and CPU Monitor. Its function is the same, though: To let the technologically savvy Mac fan check in to see how much of the Mac’s available processing power is being tapped at any given moment.

The Processes table

Even when you’re only running a program or two on your Mac, dozens of computational tasks ( processes) are going on in the background. The top half of the dialog box, which looks like a table, shows you all the different processes—visible and invisible —that your Mac is handling ...

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