Here’s the lineup of apps our distinguished panel of experts fire up every day on their own machines:
To keep an eye on my system’s innards without opening and closing something like Activity Monitor, I use MenuMeters, from Raging Menace. Its space-efficient graphics on the menu bar let me keep an eye on CPU usage, disk activity, memory utilization, and network activity, and each module can be individually enabled, disabled, and customized. CPU-hogging processes become obvious, excess disk activity is easy to spot, and I can monitor upload and download speeds—all with nothing more than a glance at the menu bar (free, donations accepted).
: MenuMeters puts a small, at-a-glance system status report in your menu bar. (Click image to open full screenshot)
I admit it, I have a weakness: I’m a radio junkie, the kind of guy who will sit in his car until a program is over rather than turning off the radio and going in to work. Unfortunately, sitting in the car for hours isn’t exactly productive. So I use WireTap Pro ($19), from Ambrosia Software. Like TiVo for the Web, this little app can record my favorite audio streams. It’ll record audio on schedule and, once the recording is done, save the results in one of several audio formats. It can even save the audio into an iTunes playlist.
Google, Froogle, Dictionary.com, the weather in Maine: No matter what kind of Web search I need to do, Ambrosia Software’s iSeek lets me run it and grab the information from a single search field in my menu bar. If I want to run any other searches—say, first-edition books at BookFinder.com—I can create my own iSeek search modules or download any of dozens more from Ambrosia’s Web site ($15).
: You Control lets you control iTunes, as well as all sorts of system functions, from menus it places in the corners of your desktop.
Adam C. Engst
You know a utility has become indispensable when the keystrokes that invoke it have become part of your muscle memory. No tool has done this for me as completely as Objective Development’s LaunchBar. I press Command-spacebar; type a few characters from the name of the application, preference pane, document, Web bookmark, or contact name; and press return—and then,
LaunchBar opens the right thing. When I’m using another person’s Mac, I find myself futilely pressing Command-spacebar, frustrated that I have to find and launch applications manually in the Finder ($20).
manually at the end of every e-mail message ($30). (Disclaimer: I wrote the manual for the latest version of iKey.)
Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of
Mac OS X Power Hound,
Panther Edition (O’Reilly, 2004) and runs the
Mac OS X Hints
Web site. Jeffery Battersby is a network analyst at the law firm of Finkelstein & Partners in Newburgh, New York. Contributing Editor Christopher Breen is the editor in chief of
and author of
Secrets of the iPod and iTunes
, fifth edition (Peachpit Press, 2005). Contributing Editor Adam C. Engst is the publisher of