Our utilities update report is a list of updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though a utility can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.
The maintenance utilities updated this week are Cocktail, CleanMyMac, OnyX, and MacPilot. Cocktail is a $14.95 utility with a free 10-launch trial that runs a number of cache-cleaning and maintenance routines for use when unknown errors with temporary files are slowing down your system. The latest update adds support for the upcoming 10.6.5 release of OS X, and also fixes compatibility issues with iTunes 10 and Safari 5, as well as adds a Dock menu for easy access to functions when the program is running.
CleanMyMac is similar to Cocktail and also includes options for slimming the drive, such as clearing unused language localizations and universal binary code from applications. CleanMyMac now includes a knowledge base for Adobe and Microsoft products, fixes errors with the cleaning routines that could break Time Machine, and enhances some of the routines for making it easier to troubleshoot and repair items. A license for CleanMyMac is $14.95, with a limited demo available.
This week OnyX beta 3 was released, which I only recommend people use if they are OnyX fans and wish to test the next release of the product. We have covered the new features of the upcoming release in prior Utility Update articles, and nothing has changed except for improvements to these updates. OnyX is free, so we recommend the final release versions for people to use.
Lastly, MacPilot has been updated to include options for iTunes 10, adding a "high-contrast" mode and the option to put window controls horizontal. The utility contains many maintenance routines, but also has numerous options for tweaking and enhancing the look and feel of various aspects of the OS X interface. The program has a 15-day trial and will cost $19.95 for a license.
Files and filesystem
In filesystem-related utilities, the free SMARTReporter was updated with an important bug that fixes CPU consumption and crashes related to the I/O error-checking routine. This issue was introduced in the program in version 2.5, and the developers have been progressively fixing it and reducing its prevalence. If you enjoy this program you may want to keep up with these updates until the problem is fixed. SMART monitoring is a regular recommendation for ensuring hard drive health, and SMARTReporter is one of a few free utilities dedicated to that.
RAID Monitor is the second filesystem-related utility this week; this $30 utility continually monitors the health of your RAID arrays. The latest update fixes issues with SMTP server settings rejecting Gmail servers, and other e-mail-related notifications.
A number of "MacAppStuff" utilities were released this week, which bring a number of note-taking and reminder options to OS X (they are simple, one-function applications). A couple of them can be useful for troubleshooting, which are the "Touch" utility for modifying file creation and modification dates, as well as "Blank," which erases blank hard-disk space. There is also a "Spoof" utility (not really filesystem related) that can be used to change your computer's MAC address, allowing you to troubleshoot some odd networking problems.
The final file-related utility is moveAddict, which is more of a system enhancement to bring the Windows-style option of cutting and pasting files in the filesystem browser to move them. OS X supports copying and pasting, but to move files you must click and drag them. This utility changes that limitation, and also adds the option to use the Command-X keyboard shortcut to do so. MoveAddict is a $7.99 "free to try" utility.
A few other utilities have been updated this week. Smith Micro software has released the next version of Stuffit, Stuffit Deluxe, and the free Stuffit Expander. For a long time these have been staple utilities on the Mac for managing various archive formats, though OS X does include a number of options for managing the popular archiving options (Tar and ZIP). The latest version has 64-bit support and adds new e-mail notification and logging options. The latest Stuffit archiving formats are also supported, which integrate well with the Stuffit Deluxe archive managers.
Finally, a small utility caught my attention this week. App Tamer may help increase the responsiveness of your system by silencing background tasks that may take up small percentages of the CPU. Though this should not affect many systems (especially those with multiple CPUs), it can be a nuisance for older systems or those where many background tasks are running (I've seen numerous menu bars filled to the brim with menu extras all running odd and crazy system add-ons). App Tamer is $14.95 for a license.