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 were numerous updates for maintenance, disk management, and hardware-monitoring utilities, as well as a couple of network- and system-monitoring utility updates.
Cleaning and maintenance
The majority of utility updates this week have been to cleaning and maintenance utilities. There are a number of options available for cleaning caches and performing other optimizations to your OS X installation, with some offering more-advanced features such as virus detection, and others being just interfaces for built-in maintenance routines.
New versions of Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, CleanApp, and MacCleanse are available, which address small bugs with the programs but offer no significantly new functionality. If you use these programs regularly then you might consider updating. MacKeeper has been updated with more-significant bug fixes and feature enhancements, which include support for new file formats as well as sorting in the undelete feature, prevention of including the root paths in the data encryptor, and improving the performance of the file shredder routine. In addition to these enhancements, numerous bug fixes have been implemented.
Disk and hardware management
The popular volume management utility iDefrag has been updated to version 2.0, which brings significant changes to the program. It now allows for more scanning options without having to boot to a separate boot disk, though creating one has also been made easier with a new menu option in iDefrag. The optimization algorithms will now skip files that are in use even if they are not locked, be run on single files, and handle volumes with very little or heavily fragmented free space. It now fully supports 64-bit mode, and has a revamped interface. If you are an iDefrag user, I recommend checking out this update.
Another hardware utility that may be of use is Checkup, which has been updated to fully support OS X 10.6.3 and provide language localization for both French and German. This application offers a blend of monitoring functions that are useful for detecting errors on the hard disk and in RAM, as well as catalog installed items on the system (applications, drivers, fonts, plug-ins, etc.) and checking system performance and component usage. It is accompanied by the separate "Checkup Remote" tool, which allows for monitoring of your Mac from a remote location.
If you use MicroMat's TechTool, then TechTool Protogo can be used to create bootable volumes that contain the TechTool utilities. Protogo has been updated for Snow Leopard compatibility, and supports booting the latest Intel Macs. The program is relatively expensive at $135 per license, but it includes a full version of TechTool Pro 5 and DiskStudio 1.6.
Network monitoring and input
Lastly, the network management utility IPNetTunerX has been updated to allow the AirPort Signal function to work in Snow Leopard, and the Activity Monitor alternative MiniUsage has been updated to display disk access information as well as offer alternate organization to the preferences. The input management utility KeyboardMaestro has also been updated to include new MIDI functions and offer more options for macro generation, organization, and execution.
Here's the full list of updated utilities this week:
- iDefrag 2.0 ($29.95) Defragmentation and disk optimization.
- Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner 5.0.5 ($9.99) System maintenance, optimization, antivirus.
- TechTool Protogo 2.0.4 ($135) Create a bootable system using an iPod, external hard drive, flash drive.
- Keyboard Maestro 4.2 ($36) Assign your hot keys.
- CheckUp 2.6.1 ($29) Check your memory and disks; monitor the health of your Mac.
- Checkup Remote 2.6.1 ($69) Check the health of multiple Macs from a remote location.
- CleanApp 3.3.4 ($15) Analyze, remove, archive, and restore application files and installations.
- ClickToFlash 1.6b9 (Free) Prevents Flash assets from loading in Safari unless you click on them.
- MacKeeper 0.8.8 ($39.95) Set of clean-up utilities, standalone tools, online services.
- MiniUsage 1.2.0 (Free) Displays system information in the menu bar.
- IPNetTunerX 1.7 ($30) Optimize network performance under any type of Internet connection.
- MacCleanse 1.5.7 ($19.95) Scan and delete unnecessary files on your Mac.