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 on bringing you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. For once in a long time there have been no updates to maintenance-related utilities, but luckily others have stepped up in their place.
In hardware-based utilities, a new S.M.A.R.T. monitor for internal hard drives has been updated. Smart Drive is a background tool that will alert you if it detects that an internal drive is about to fail, and in addition it will allow you to monitor each S.M.A.R.T. parameter itself. The program is free to try, but will cost $2.49 for a full license.
Process management tools can be useful for optimizing a system for a specific task, or managing those to conserve power or CPU usage, especially on older systems that have limited CPU resources where you would like to dedicate more priority to certain tasks.
The first tool updated this week is App Tamer, which is primarily used to pause applications and thereby increase battery life in the system, but can also be used to free up CPU usage for other tasks if needed. The latest update to the $14.95 utility fixes problems with the CPU usage history graph not updating, and fixes a license validation problem.
The second process manager updated this week is ProcessRenicer, which adjusts the "nice" value given to running applications to increase or decrease their priority in the system and thereby potentially make one more responsive than others. The latest update fixes a problem with processes not being displayed in non-administrative accounts.
Some of the largest areas of troubleshooting in OS X pertain to property list management and file permissions, and having some tools to help with this may be useful. The first updated this week is PropEdit, which offers advanced permission handling for files and folders. The tool is free and has been updated to fix a few small bugs in the initial release.
OpenPList is another file management tool, which is specific for handling property lists for applications, including the preferences file and the application's Info.plist file. The free tool is basically a service that can be invoked through the contextual menu when clicking on an application or a document associated with an application. The latest update adds more compatibility with Snow Leopard.
The last update this week is to an alternative search option for OS X, which is FoxTrot Personal Search (there is also a Professional Search option). The tool allows for full contextual searches of documents and other items on your hard drive, and may be a more attractive option than Spotlight for some users. The personal search option is 29.00 euros and the professional options start at 99.00 euros, but pricing depends on the licensing options.