A Mac Expert's Favorite Tools: Page 3

Posted October 30, 2008

Ryan Faas

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Space Savers

In today’s world where Macs serve not just as a computer, but a media hub storing all your photos, music, and digital video, it’s easy to fill even a large hard drive very quickly. When a Mac’s startup drive gets full, not only do you run out of storage space, you can also see the effects in the speed and stability of the machine.

A Mac performs best when there is at least ten percent free drive space. The following tools can each help you slim down your hard drive by removing unneeded data or locating large files (which you can either delete or move to an external drive).

Xslimmer – Xslimmer is a tool to remove unused language translations (known as localization files) from both applications and Mac OS X system files as well as the non-native code from applications that ship as a universal binary (universal binaries include code to run natively on both Power PC and Intel Macs).

Disk Inventory X – Disk Inventory X provides a graphical representation or map of your hard drive, identifying specific files and file types in different colors. This provides a visual method of identifying large files. You can also view specific folders. Disk Inventory X doesn’t itself reduce disk usage, but it does provide a method for easily identifying large files that you can consider moving to an external drive or potentially deleting.

Grand Perspective – Grad Perspective, like Disk Inventory X, allows you to graphically view the relative sizes of files on your hard drive and can help locate overly large files.

Spring Cleaning – Spring Cleaning is a venerable Mac tool that has been around since before Mac OS X. It includes a range of features for slimming down a hard drive, including tools to organize large groups of files, locate duplicate files, locate specific types of files (photos, movies, podcasts), and work with file permissions and attributes.

Drive Genius – As I mentioned earlier, Drive Genius offers a feature known as DriveSlim that can be used to locate duplicate files and files that are large and/or not frequently accessed. DriveSlim can also save space by removing non-native code from applications that ship as universal binaries and unused language translations. It also offers the ability to clear cache and temporary files based on their frequency of use.

Additional Utilities

There are a few more utilities that are well worth keeping in any Mac user’s toolkit, but which don’t really fall into a succinct category. These include the following.

Print Therapy/Print Setup Repair – Print Therapy is a tool for resolving various problems relating to printing from Mac OS X (earlier pre-Leopard versions of the tool were known as Print Setup Repair). Print Therapy can perform a number of tasks including verifying and repairing printer files and related permissions, deleting corrupted spool files, and viewing print-related log files. It also includes feature deleting or replacing various printer driver/PPD files.

Winclone – Winclone allows you to clone a Boot Camp Windows installation. This can be a great tool for moving installations between two Macs or for rolling out a large number of dual-boot Mac computers with identical configurations.

Little Snitch – Many applications (legitimate and malware alike) connect to the Internet in the background of computing operation. Little Snitch is a tool that allows you to view and configure rules for allowing and denying outgoing connections from your Mac. This makes it a great tool for securing a Mac or determining if a Mac has been compromised.

Versiontracker Widget – One of the most important tasks to keep a computer secure and functioning at its best is keeping its installed software up to date.

While the Mac’s Software Update feature keeps all Apple-branded software updated easily, keeping tabs on all your third-party applications and system add-ons can be more difficult. The Versiontracker widget can help by comparing your installed applications to the vast Versiontracker database of Mac applications.

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Tags: server, software, Apple, Mac, OS X

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