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Weekly Troubleshooting Utilities Update

Our utilities update report is a list of updates for Mac troubleshooting utilities that have been released in the past week, including those for maintenance, process management tools, file and file system management, and benchmarking.

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. This week we have had updates to a couple of maintenance tools, a few process management tools, a number of filesystem and file management tools, and a benchmarking suite.

In maintenance utility updates this past week, Cocktail has been updated to fix compatibility problems with various Web browsers, in addition to fixing problems with the deletion of localization files, among other small fixes. The program is an all-around maintenance and enhancement tool for OS X, and it will cost $14.95 to purchase a license.

The only other maintenance utility is Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, which as its name suggests offers options for clearing system caches, in addition to a number of other common maintenance, optimization, and tweaking tasks. There is no information about the fixes offered in the latest version, but the developers have at least addressed bugs in the program, so it's worth updating if you have it installed. The program is $9.99 for a license.

Process management
In process management utilities, the tool OpenPList allows you to quickly access the preference files that an application is associated with. This can be done from the application itself or from an associated document. The latest version adds options to delete preference files immediately, reveal them in the Finder, move them to the Trash, and open the "Info.plist" file within the associated application. The tool is a free utility.

The second process manager utility is ProcessRenicer, which is a free program for changing the process priority in a system. In some instances this can result in snappier performance by a specific program or process. The program has been updated with minor bugfixes.

File and filesystem
File and filesystem utilities make up the majority of the utility updates this week. Tidy Up is a program that helps reduce clutter on your hard drive by finding unused files, temporary files, and aspects of files that are not used, such as extra metadata, and offers options for removing them. The program has been updated to improve the location of duplicate files and the handling of files by its "smart basket" system. In addition a few rare crash-related bugs have been addressed. The program is $30 for a license.

If you use your Mac on a network with other operating systems or with Boot Camp and often see .DS_Store or dot-underscore files showing up, you can manage them using a tool like BlueHarvest. This tool can be set up to scour various directories (or the whole system or disk) and remove these hidden files that can clutter network experiences. The latest update includes options to automatically clean disks as they are ejected, and to ignore some specially mounted disks. The program is $16.95 after the 30-day free trial.

One data recovery tool updated this past week is 321Soft Data Recovery, which is one of many tools offering a block-scanning option with a hex editor for locating file structures on disk and restoring them. The tool includes cloning options and wizards for running you through the best options for restoring your data. The program is $99.95 for a license. The latest version is the full version 5.0.0 release.

PropEdit, the last file and filesystem tool updated this past week, is a quick and free interface for managing permissions and finder and system flags on files without having to either use the Terminal or a more complex utility or filesystem browser. The lastest version fixes problems with using the system root as the starting point for file management.

While not a direct troubleshooting utility, Geekbench offers options for testing your system's performance and therefore can be one method for testing whether a hardware change, driver update, or other system modification has hurt performance. Geekbench is $19.95; the latest update fixes crashes when loading corrupted results and improves the display of plain text results.

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