New Users (6): Some More Utilities for OS X
I have recently been looking at utilities new users may find useful. Before making any changes, make sure your data is backed up. That should be second nature to computer users (Mac or PC), but for many people the message has not yet got through.
When I was given help at the Pinklao iStudio, the technician had a couple of utilities in his armoury worth thinking about. The first, App Cleaner is a free utility of 7MB that seeks out all those little extras that some applications install. Some Adobe installations and Microsoft Office for the Mac, among others, will also install additional components. App Cleaner identifies these and will delete them in one go.
This works in a couple of ways. A specific application can be dragged to the AppCleaner window and extras will be shown, allowing the user to confirm before deleting. Pressing one of the icons on the toolbar (Applications, Widgets, Others) shows all of these in the panel and a user can click on any to delete. Pressing search displays any related files. A check box by each confirms the deletion. For example, I recently updated the CameraBag Desktop application which placed the new version next to the old one. When I tried to delete the unwanted version with AppCleaner, one of the files shown had registration details. I deselected that.
In the preferences, are two useful additions: a panel to drop protected apps onto, keeping them safe; and "SmartDelete" which will find related files when an application is dropped into the Trash.
In its simple form, there is a small window onto which we drop an application for deleting. Clicking an icon at top right expands to a larger view with several options: All, with a tunable search facility; Applications; Widgets; Preference Panes; and Plugins.
One of the reasons I do not have such problems is that, by default, Flash videos do not load on my computers. I have a useful little utility, called ClickToFlash that blocks them. If I do want to view a video, I click on a small gearwheel icon displayed on the top left of the Flash panel and can make one of three selections: Load Flash; Load all on the page; add the site to a white list. On sites that have video alternatives, such as YouTube, when the icon is clicked other options, such as H.264, are shown.
A few days after these Macs were released, a 17-year old student came out with one of the more useful utilities I now use: gfxCardStatus. Now at version 1.7 it reports when the system switches, either from Intel to NVdia, or vice-versa, using a Growl notification. A display in the menubar also indicates which card is in use. Initially only the menu display was available, but Cody Krieger has added the notifications and the ability to select which card is used instead of the automatic switching.
Being aware of when the NVidia card is active, and monitoring the time it is used for, enables users to preserve the charge in the battery and keep working longer.
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