Troubleshooting utility news and updates

Our utilities update report is a column on updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week, which include maintenance tools, monitoring utilities, and file-handling tools for OS X.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
4 min read

Our utilities update report is a column on 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 there were updates for a few system monitoring utilities, maintenance programs for Lion, and a few search and file management utilities.

System monitoring
If you need to monitor the CPU, drive, and memory usage of your system then Activity Monitor can cover most bases, but the program can be a bit limited and cumbersome. There are a number of alternative options that provide real-time views of system resource use, and one of these that was updated recently is X Resource Graph. The program offers a quick look at CPU, memory, battery charge, temperatures, and I/O performance of the system, in addition to some options like stock and weather data. The latest update offers Lion support, but is otherwise unchanged.

A second system-monitoring tool is AtMonitor, which offers some fancy options for displaying and organizing real-time system statistics on your screen, such as a custom coloring scheme, triggers, and logging to keep your system running optimally. This program is more of an enhanced full replacement for Activity Monitor. The update is now Lion-compatible, but also removes the older PowerPC code so you will not be able to run it on older PowerPC systems.

Both X Resource Graph and AtMonitor are free utilities.

Three popular maintenance utilities have been updated to run in Lion. These are OnyX, Lion Cache Cleaner, and TinkerTool System. OnyX is a free utility that is distributed independently for each OS version, so if you have a version of OnyX that you are running under Snow Leopard and are looking to upgrade to Lion, then be sure to get the Lion version for your system. Beyond the addition of Lion support, no changes have been made to the latest release of OnyX.

Similar to the OnyX release, Lion Cache Cleaner is a Lion-only version of the program that is tailored for the latest OS X release, and there are still specific versions for Leopard and Snow Leopard if you are using those operating systems. Unlike OnyX, however, Lion Cache Cleaner will cost $9.99 for a license.

Beside OnyX and Lion Cache Cleaner, the popular system tweaking tool TinkerTool System has been updated. In addition to adding Lion support it offers a number of new features, including support for Firefox 5, full 64-bit support, and a number of small UI tweaks and options to make managing tasks with the program easier. Despite the updates, TinkerTool System now requires Snow Leopard only, so if you are using Leopard then you will not be able to use the latest version of the software. The program is $14 for a license.

The last maintenance tool this week is FontNuke, which may be useful for some early Lion adopters who have experienced font display issues using programs like Safari. FontNuke is a basic font-cache cleaning tool that will clear system font caches in an attempt to restore proper font display functionality. As with other utilities, the latest version adds support for Lion, but also offers an integrated update checker function.

File management and other
Unblunder is a file recovery software package that is similar in concept to Disk Drill. The software runs in the background and tracks deleted files in order to offer a more robust recovery approach than scanning the drive surface and attempting to identify files from the data footprint on disk. The latest release is a bug-fix update, and will cost $10 for a license after the one-week demo trial.

The second file-management tool update is to the FoxTrot personal and professional search engines for desktop and networked systems. The tools offer a find-by-content alternative to Apple's Spotlight, with options that may be more appealing to some people. Both the Personal and Professional packages have been updated to include French localization, but otherwise have not been changed.

The last update covered this week is to a free package management system that in itself is not a troubleshooting utility, but offers a number of packages that are. MacPorts is a program that will tap into a large library of Unix tools and programs, allowing you to download either precompiled binaries or the source code and run the compilation yourself. The tool can best be described as an "app store" of sorts for open-source Unix commands, applications, and utilities. The latest version enhances compatibility on systems with more than one user account, and adds more enhancements to the handling of subports.

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