Figuring Stuff Out

Mac Hack Roundup

Here are all the resources and apps that seemed useful to me, along with a brief explanation as to what it claims to do and why you would do it, as well as a mention of the person who suggested it:Mac apple

Mac Maintenance: is a series of three articles, by Michel Munger, that outline ways to optimize your disk and system in general using a mix of paid and free applications, as well as a few command line hacks. The articles are dated, but the basic ideas are still valid and it’s not a bad place to start and get a few ideas.

SMARTReporter: is free application that Dan K. and I both highly recommend for your computer. Basically all it does is monitor information from your hard drive and give you a heads up when things look like they might be going wrong. I linked to an article that argues that these programs aren’t really great at predicting hard drive failures but, as Dan pointed out, they generally will tell you that you are in trouble when you aren’t (which is better than not knowing when you are). This application won’t protect you in anyway, it’s designed to let you know that you should back up all your files (which you should be doing anyway) and maybe see a techie.

Monolingual: is a nice and free application, also recommended by Dan K, that give you the opportunity to free up a whole lot of disk space (always a plus) that is otherwise wasted. Basically all this application does is allow you to uninstall all the language packages that Apple includes and installs by default so that you can read all of those Chinese, Mongolian, and Swahili e-mails and papers you get. Unless you have an exceptional gift for language you can probably safely get rid of most of the languages on your Mac (you can always reinstall them later) with this little puppy, give it a try.

Anacron: was recommended by MJ and offers a really nice fix to a pretty important problem for your system. Basically your Mac is set up to domacintosh maintenance on itself at regular intervals. This is all well and good but they set up the system cleaner to work late at night so that you won’t lose any system power while you’re working during the day. The problem here is that most people turn off their computer at night, which means that your computer might go months or years without necessary cleaning. I explained a command line method of forcing the cleaning, but that relies on you remembering to do it yourself and using the command line, this app will take care of it all for you.

Onyx and AppDelete: are both recommended by Sean. Onyx is another disk optimization tool that will allow you to take care of a number of maintainence concerns, compare it to Anacron and decide for yourself if you need both or one or the other or neither. AppDelete offers a means of ensuring that everything related to an application is deleted in OS X (technically not necessary, but nice piece of mind all the same).

Quicksilver: is not really in the same vein as the rest of these apps, but it offers a great deal of flexibilty and, once you learn how to use it, it can save you all sorts of time, and it looks pretty…

When all else fails: if you think that your system is so gunked up with crap that the little fixes that are offered by clean-up apps won’t do you probably need to do a system reinstall. This involves reformatting your hard drive and will require the system disks that camemacintosh.gif with your mac in the first place. This can be a fairly daunting idea and it is imperative that before you start this operation you back up all of your files you want to keep on your system to another hard drive or a DVD or CD-ROM. The link above, suggested by Les Moor, explains a tool that Apple provides that might allow you to do a system wipe without actually having to reinstall everything afterwards, but I would still have the back-up, just in case.

Tinker Tool: is a free application that makes changing the behaviour of your Mac’s work environment a little easier than it is out of the box. Basically if you want to fool around with the eye candy (like animated windows and stuff) this is an easier way to do so. I don’t know if it’s worth the download, but give it a look see and decide for yourself.

That’s it, if any other apps or articles set themselves apart I’ll set them up here. Otherwise my Mac tinkering is done, on to Linux!

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