Your computer is equipped with a lot of sensors so that the system can keep an eye on the health of the hardware. macOS has a built-in system monitoring utility called Activity Monitor, which may be unfamiliar to most casual Mac users. And even fewer understand how to properly use Activity Monitor to manage memory usage, fix slow apps, and troubleshoot various many other issues.
Activity Monitor's advantage over all third party Mac monitoring apps is its ability to inspect and even kill a process that requires too many hardware resources. This is something no third party app has the permission to do, despite having access to all the sensor information data and displaying it in an easy-to-read design.
Available as a separate purchase or via Setapp, Bjango's iStat Menus is one of the best Mac monitoring apps available. You may already be familiar with the iStat Pro widget from the same developer, which displays the same data in the dashboard. One of the best things about iStat Menus is that there is a quick view for the essential data right in the menu bar. If you want more data and visuals, just click on the desired item. Customize the data by turning on the monitoring only for what you want it to keep an eye on. That's a nice advantage over the competing apps, even Bjango's own iStat widget which only displays all the information in one window.
iStat Menus, however, lets you monitor only the CPU, GPU, memory, disks, network, sensors, battery, power, time, or any combinations of these. Bjango's iStat Menus can be trialed for 14 days for free, but after that you'll need to purchase a license for $18 or upgrade for $9.99 if you already happen to own version 3 or 4. The Family Pack allows iStat Menus to be used on up to five Macs within the same household.
Short for Temperature Gauge Pro, this tool could become a Mac monitoring utility that you become attached to. While iStat Menus only displays information, TG Pro goes one step further and offers an option to control your Mac's fans, along with offering an overview of the sensor data that macOS gives access to. That's a very important feature if you want the computer to deliver optimal performance. In addition, TG Pro offers a color-coded visual explanation of what is happening with the computer's internals: green means that you can relax, orange that the hardware is approaching its limits, and red represents that it is very close to the thermal limit.
What TG Pro does is provide control over the fan speed to cool down your Mac's hardware, which is especially useful on hot summer days when Macs tend to overheat. This Mac monitoring app will display quick temperature info in the menu bar, but to gain access to all the information available you’ll need to either click on the TG Pro item to see a quick overview of the data or launch the app and get visual information for the targeted segment. While the TG Pro trial gives 10 days of free testing, it unfortunately limits the data it displays and therefore pushes users to purchase a license for $18.
Available as an open-source system monitor for Macs, XRG allows you to monitor CPU and GPU activity, memory usage, battery status, machine temperature, network activity, disk I/O, current weather, and stock market data. Just like the iStat Pro widget, it gives users a helpful overview of what is happening on your Mac, peppered with some handy visuals. In terms of the graphical user interface, XRG’s cannot be compared to that of iStat Menus or TG Pro but if you want a free app to have access to such data then XRG is a good option to choose.
Any one of these above apps will be useful to you if you are looking to optimize your Mac's performance. They each allow you to see – at a glance – the resource hogs that can be eliminated as well as all the data that your Mac’s sensors are collecting. That, combined with the use of Mac optimization apps such as CleanMyMac, CCleaner or MacKeeper, will create a computer that works optimally to perform all the tasks it is given.
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