While we Mac users are busily browsing the web or doing email or listening to iTunes or using whatever apps make us happy or make us money, the Mac itself is busy working to keep us happy and we seldom pay much attention to what goes on inside the Mac until something goes a bit wonky.
Here are two ways to see the Mac’s system status in real time; one is free and built in to OS X, the other costs a few dollars but is easier to view and use.
First on my list is a handy utility called Translucent. What you get is system information scattered over a number of translucent floating windows instead of a single monolithic app window which may display system data you don’t need.
Translucent displays more than enough system data for the geekiest of Mac users.
What I like most about Translucent is the amount of system data, and how it can be customized to display what you need, and discard what you don’t. The app lives in the Mac’s Menubar so details are merely a click away, but system status is visible within the bar.
What you get is a quick view of the Mac’s CPU usage, RAM, network activity (both up and down), disk storage capacity and availability, and plenty of statistics to massage your curiosity gene.
Second, if a few dollars for Translucent is too much, OS X comes with a built-in utility which also monitors various internal systems. It’s the Activity Monitor app in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
Activity Monitor won’t display the same system data as simply and easily as Translucent of other Mac monitoring utilities, but it’s priced right. Getting to the same system data takes more clicks, but it’s easy enough to see which apps use the Mac’s CPU the most, hog memory, take up space, and there’s a new setting for Energy which lists which apps have the most impact on the Mac’s power or battery.
Either way, Translucent or Activity Monitor, you’ll be able to see more of what’s going on under the Mac’s hood.