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If you own a Mac, you should know that one of the most useful tools is Activity Monitor, found in the Utilities folder. If you haven’t used it before, get introduced to it Macnifying OS X: Learning To Utilize Activity Monitor on Mac Macnifying OS X: Learning To Utilize Activity Monitor on Mac Read More ; it will help get you out of sticky situations when your Mac isn’t responding properly. Activity Monitor is basically Mac’s version of Window’s Task Manager, albeit slightly more concise.

Today, I’ll be featuring a tool that takes the functions of Activity Monitor and pushes them into overdrive. The tool in question is called atMonitor and it’s like Activity Monitor on a ton of steroids. The interface is almost the same. One of the many noticeable differences, though, is the addition of an information panel in the Top Window.

If you find that a particular runaway process, let’s say for example, ATSServer, is constantly using up 100% CPU power in Activity Monitor; the standard response is to perform a Google search and determine whether or not it’s safe to quit the process. Not required in atMonitor. That’s where the information panel comes in. It will display all the necessary information about every process or application that’s selected and allows you to make a judgement on the spot.

If an application is selected, it will query osx.iusethis.com for its description and latest version. It will then compare the latest version against the version installed on your Mac and tell you if an update is available. Besides that, there’s a Version column which displays the current version of every app/process running and an icon next to it that symbolizes if it’s up to date.

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If there’s an app which is outdated, just click on its icon in the information panel and you’ll be taken directly to the app’s web page. How cool is that?

Another awesome feature is Reveal. Let’s say you find a fishy rogue process running in atMonitor, you can use the Information Panel to read more about it. Subsequently, let’s assume that you decide that it shouldn’t be running because it belongs to an app which you’ve deleted; you can easily kill the process, then use the Reveal button to display the particular file in Finder – then Trash it!

Another cool function is Renice Process. atMonitor allows you to alter the processing priority of particular apps. You can increase or decrease the priority, providing more CPU power to more important apps. This function will definitely come in handy while performing CPU-intensive tasks like applying layers in Photoshop or encoding video.

atMonitor comes in three different forms of view: in the menu bar (essentially replacing a few of the monitoring menu bar apps I know), a floating window and a Dock icon (can only monitor one parameter). These three views provide you with real-time monitoring and reporting so that you have a general idea of what’s going on and can easily scan for the most memory- and CPU-intensive apps. To be absolutely honest, I’m a creature of habit and I already use iStat Menus 11 Tiny and Useful Free Menubar Applications for Mac 11 Tiny and Useful Free Menubar Applications for Mac Read More and couldn’t be bothered to switch. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try atMonitor’s menu bar view. Personally, I prefer using Top Window because it resembles Activity Monitor.

Those are just a few of atMonitor’s features, there are several advanced functions I haven’t tapped into yet. Triggers, for example, allows you to set up and run a certain script whenever a particular parameter (CPU, RAM, Temp) reaches a predefined level. Just think of the possibilities!

atMonitor is available for free and runs on Mac OS X 10.5 and higher (Snow Leopard supported). Download it and give it a try. Do you think that it has potential to replace Activity Monitor?

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