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Weekly Utilities Update: Pixel Tester, ClamXav, Cocktail, more...

Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. This week we're taking a look at "Pixel Tester", which is useful for finding dead or stuck pixels.

Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. While utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our main focus in this column is to bring you those that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.

Weekly Review: Pixel Tester

With LCD displays being used for the vast majority of computers, and being distributed with practially all new computers, the largest display problem people experience has shifted from burn-ins to dead pixels. This is not a new phenominon, and not unknown since many display manufacturers have warranties that only cover groups of dead pixels instead of one or two dotted here and there.

While many dead pixels are quite prominent, some can go undetected for a while and are only noticed when another more prominent one gets stuck, putting the user on the lookout for pixel problems. Many times these rogue stuck pixels are towards the side of the display, and sometimes they will be stuck at an intermediate color level which lets them more easily blend in with other patterns than a solid red, green, or blue dot.

The display only goes to full screen if you register, but without this feature you can still get the majority of the display. Moving the mouse changes the color of the screen.

To more easily find these stuck pixels, Pixel Tester will display patterns and color gradients on the screen that change with a move of the mouse. If you click the mouse it will apply vertical, horizontal, or cross-hatched patterns over the color to better locate the pixel. It is a very simple utility, and to an extent reminds me of the "Spectrum" screensaver that Apple provides. Despite its simplicity it's exceptionally useful for finding those irritating pixels, even though it does not have a pixel fixing routine, for which you will need to use jscreenfix or some similar application.

The developers of Pixel Tester also have a number of other simple but useful utilities, which are all available at their downloads page:

Other Recent Utilities Updates

Keep in mind that while utilities can help in a vast majority of cases, as with any software, they can be buggy. Since these utilities were recently updated, these are actively being developed and are currently assumed to work. However, developers cannot take into account all system configurations, so be sure to back up your system before running any utilities for the first time. Additionally, double-check with the developer's Web site to be sure they are compatible with your system version. Incompatibilities with system software are the main reason why utilities and programs function improperly.

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