Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though utilities 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.
This week there are a number of updates for maintenance and cleaning utility updates, which I have noticed seem to be updated and released around the same time. In addition, a few drive and filesystem management utility updates are available.
Three popular maintenance utilities are available. The OS tweaking and maintenance tool MacPilot ($19.95) along with its "Lite" counterpart ($5.00) have been updated to fix problems with list boxes in the program. Cocktail ($14.95) has a new version out that adds the ability to manage apple system and crash logs, as well as fix some compatibility issues with OS 10.6.4. Additionally, it provides some updates to its Automator actions.
An update to MacKeeper ($39.95) addresses a number of issues with the Update Tracker feature, including better version analysis and filtering. It also fixes potential crashes with the Binary Cutter routine and how the QuickLook window behaves when managing some files. These are small routine updates, but if you're finding problems with them you may consider updating.
We recommend keeping at least one maintenance utility on your system, and run it periodically especially if you are experiencing slowdowns, odd pauses, or other lagging behavior with the system over time.
My favorite file sizing utility has been the free GrandPerspective, but DaisyDisk ($19.95) is a close second with its visually appealing "Sunburst" graphical representation of the filesystem. Regardless of what program you prefer, being able to see all files on disk in a visual representation is an exceptionally useful alternative to listing files by size in the Finder. This utility has been updated to fix a bug with incorrect file sizes being displayed when in super-user mode.
When cleaning and locating duplicate files you may also consider checking out Tidy Up! and CleanMyMac, which locate lost, unused, and duplicate files on the hard drive. Tidy Up! ($30.00) has been updated for better compatibility with iTunes 9.2, and fixes crashes when handling EXIF metadata. CleanMyMac ($14.95) has a more significant update that improves performance, adds support for cleaning Safari extensions, adds a few new "ignore" lists to cleaning routines, and tweaks elements of the user interface.
There is not much information about the updated features in this utility, but MediaRECOVER ($29.99) by SmithMicro has been updated as well this week. It is built to recover files from flash media on cameras, memory sticks, video recorders, and other temporary media. While there are a variety of media recovery programs out there, having one available, especially if you use many different media types, is highly recommended.
An update to Tuxera NTFS (~$31) has addressed a couple of problems with the preference pane leaving zombie processes as well as the driver preventing NTFS drives from being unmounted. It also includes support for extended attributes from the Finder, which will prevent the "._filename" files from appearing on the NTFS drive. With people who use Windows either in Boot Camp or elsewhere, NTFS compatibility may be essential, and can also help with troubleshooting Windows volumes.
Lastly, a utility for scanning available wifi hotspots "AirRadar" ($19.95) has been updated to fix some small interface bugs with column lists. This utility can be useful for diagnosing problems with your WiFi connection by finding potential conflicts with other WiFi connections using the same channels and more accurately checking signal strengths as you change locations.