Utilities: Your OS X Toolbox

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

The truth is, you’re likely to use only about six of these utilities. The rest are very specialized gizmos primarily of interest 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 OS X fans grows, more people open the Utilities folder more often. That’s why there’s a menu command and a keystroke that can take you there. In the Finder, choose Go→Utilities (Shift-⌘-U).

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is designed to let the technologically savvy Mac fan see how much of the Mac’s available 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 at the moment.

Check out how many items appear in the Process list, even when you’re just staring at the desktop. It’s awesome to see just how busy your Mac is! Some are easily recognizable programs (such as Finder), while others are background system-level operations you don’t normally see. For each item, you can ...

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