2006 MacFixIt Toolbox Awards

2006 MacFixIt Toolbox Awards


It is time, once again, to honor the recipients of this year's MacFixIt Toolbox awards.

As we near the transition to Intel-based processor platforms, these utilities have presented themselves as indispensible for eliminating problems that occur on current PowerPC-based systems and will likely remain that way after the switch.

This year also marks the first edition where every Toolbox utility is distributed under either a shareware or freeware license -- a reflection of the amazing amount of time independent developers have put into providing top-notch Mac maintenance tools, and the exodus of some previously cornerstone commercial products from Mac OS X-relevance.

Congratulations to every one listed. Thanks for making using a Mac an easier and more problem-free experience.

Gold Winner: XRay (by Rainer Brockerhoff)

Without this tool, performing important processes like modifying a files permissions, creator/type codes (determining which application will open a specific document) in Mac OS X requires at least a limited knowledge of the Terminal. Xray offers a flexible and powerful replacement for the "Get Info" pane in Mac OS X (10.2 and up). It can view/change Type, Creator and Extension metadata as well as permissions and other attributes -- all jobs necessary in various troubleshooting routines.

Gold Winner: Pacifist (by Charles Srstka)

Aptly named for its ability to quickly alleviate a number of problems that require capture of specific components from original Mac OS X installation media or Mac OS X update installers, Pacifist opens Mac OS X .pkg package files and allows you to extract individual files and folders out of them. This is useful, for instance, if an application which is installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling Mac OS X in its entirety.

Gold Winner: SuperDuper! (by Shirt Pocket)

A good backup strategy should be the base of any troubleshooting plan. This versatile disk copying program can make a straight copy, or "clone" -- useful when you want to move all your data from one machine to another, or do a simple backup. The real power, however, lies in its ability "checkpoint" your system, preserving your computer's critical applications and files while you run on a working, bootable copy.

Silver Winner: Tiger Cache Cleaner (by Northern Softworks)

A staple for any Mac troubleshooter's arsenal, this tool is designed to provide easy access to numerous OS X maintenance and utility options, with saliency assigned to its cache clearing functions. Corrupt caches can cause an array of surprisingly nasty issues in Mac OS X, including problems launching individual applications, lack of device recognition, and much more. When used in combination with OS X's disk repair tools, Tiger Cache Cleaner can be very effective in curing many system problems

Silver Winner: Printer Setup Repair(by Fixamac Software)

Printing on a Mac has always been a breeze relative to Windows, where necessitated driver re-installations are a common occurrence. Printer Setup Repair aims to keep it that way. This tool works rectify situations where the Printer Setup Utility will not open, printers cannot be added, and various other troubleshooting sore spots. It can also delete stubborn unwanted printer drivers.

Silver Winner: iPulse (by Iconfactory)

When things go wrong, it's always good to have a dashboard-type display of system goings-on. iPulse displays a multitude of system information ? including CPU activity, system load, network activity and more -- on the desktop or in the dock so you can get at least a shallow view of what is going wrong with your system (an application hogging processor time, network activity failing, etc.) before delving into a troubleshooting routine.

Silver Winner: Safari Enhancer (by Gordon Byrnes)

This tool unlocks hidden features and adds various capabilities to Safari. It can enable the Debug Menu, remove underlines from hyperlinks, increase the font size in the bookmarks sidebar and more. The tool is particularly useful for its ability to change the user agent setting in Safari, which can allow Apple's browser to access sites that unnecessarily relegate compatibility to Internet Explorer or another application.

Silver Winner: Font Finagler(by Mark Douma)

Like Tiger Cache Cleaner, Font Finagler deletes potentially problematic caches, though the latter tool is specifically designed to clear corrupt font cache files that can cause a variety of problems including garbled text, system instability and more. This tool should be your first line of defense when experiencing what you suspect to be font-related problems, followed by isolation of recently added fonts to check for potential conflicts between typefaces.

Silver Winner: DesInstaller(by Nothing in Particular Software)

Until Apple builds an uninstall utility into Mac OS X, DesInstaller is the closest thing to Windows XP's infamous uninstaller. With this program, you can generate a list of all software installed from packages (.pkg files) on your Mac, then delete any components placed by said packages. It can also create a reinstaller for the files, even if you have modified them, serving as software replication utility for a group of Macs.

  • XRay
  • Pacifist
  • SuperDuper!
  • Tiger Cache Cleaner
  • Printer Setup Repair
  • iPulse
  • Safari Enhancer
  • Font Finagler
  • DesInstaller
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