Keeping Tabs on OS X
By Steve Manke

Most Mac power users would like to have more control over their computers. We know that the Mac has tremendous power due largely in part to its UNIX underpinnings. Unfortunately, due to its UNIX background, it is often more difficult to know what the Mac is doing in the background while we work.

One interesting piece of Freeware provides extensive information, and does it in a way that is easy to understand and access at any time. That application is called MenuMeters. As the name suggests, it makes it easy to add graphs to the menu of OS X. These graphs display information ranging from the computer's current memory usage, to its network addresses and throughput.

Some of the options built into MenuMeters are neat bells and whistles while most are just plain practical. One big feature of this application is the ability to only display the information that you want to see. It is easy to activate and deactivate displays, as you need them. My personal favorite is the meter displaying bandwidth. It makes it easy to see what network usage is at any time.

In addition to the graphs displayed in the menu bar, you get additional information. Each graph is actually a menu. When you click on it, you get a wealth of information that pertains to that graph.

And since MenuMeters is free, you can’t go wrong. The only drawback is a less than intuitive installer. You have to place the preference pane in the correct location manually. Fortunately, this is a small price to pay for the valuable information the software provides.

Alex Harper, the creator of MenuMeters, has done a great job of placing a great deal of vital system information in one logical and easy to access location. Much of this information would normally be impossible for even the most skilled Mac user to gather manually.