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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 some maintenance tools, filesystem tools, and hardware management tools.

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 to some maintenance and filesystem tools, including a major update of TechTool Pro, and some hardware and process management tools.

In maintenance utilities this week, the popular tools OnyX and MacPilot have been updated. OnyX offers some small updates for its Help Viewer interface in addition to improving log file and Internet cache deletion routines. MacPilot has added an autoclose feature for "command completed" dialog boxes in addition to fixing a problem with multiple "trial" warning boxes showing up. Both of these programs can be used to run general maintenance routines and otherwise set hidden OS X settings and options. OnyX is free, but MacPilot will cost $19.95 for a license after the free trial.

Files and Filesystem
If you find that over time you get a number of files littering the hard drive, you might consider using a tool like Tidy Up. This program will help you find large and duplicate files you may have placed in the filesystem, or that applications may have generated when running. Tidy Up is $30 for a license, and the latest update fixes a number of bugs, making Basic mode appear cleaner, and optimizes some of the search routines.

The next filesystem tool is a very popular disk management program called TechTool Pro (Apple ships a stripped-down version called "TechTool Deluxe" as part of its AppleCare program). TechTool Pro can be used to fix directory structure issues and test hardware for malfunctions as part of general maintenance routines in addition to troubleshooting various system slowdowns. The latest update is a major release that provides options to create live "eDrives" on the current boot drive without having to use the TechTool Pro boot DVD. In addition, TechTool Pro now offers volume cloning options, which is useful for file recovery, backup, and migration. Lastly, TechTool Pro now has a Local Network tool that scans for and lists information about networked devices. TechTool Pro costs $99.00 for a license.

System Stamp is a convenient way to show relevant system information as part of the desktop image, including hostname, system version, memory usage, and processor type. This can be convenient when organizing large numbers of Macs in workgroups. The tool has been updated to fix problems with font settings not being saved, and adds an Unstamp feature that removes the system information from the desktop background. System Stamp is $1.99 for a license.

The next hardware tool updated is SwitchResX, a display management utility that helps adjust monitor resolution and color settings with easy-to-access contextual menus. It offers options for custom resolutions and color profile management as well. The latest version adds compatibility with OS X 10.7 Lion and fixes a problem with compatibility with OS X 10.5. SwitchResX has a limited 10-day trial, but then will cost 14 euros (about $26) for a license.

The last troubleshooting utility update is ProcessRenicer, which is an interface for the OS X "renicing" feature that sets process priority. Depending on the task being run, renicing programs can increase performance for various routines. This is a free program, and if you run various tasks on your system that you need to optimize then using this utility may help a bit. The latest release is a bug-fix update.

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