Tracking Performance with Activity Monitor in Mac OS X
Activity Monitor is a useful application that is specifically designed to show you how hard your CPU, hard drives, network equipment, and memory modules are working behind the scenes. To run Activity Monitor, open the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
To view each of the different types of use, click the buttons in the lower half of the window; The bottom panel changes to reflect the desired type (see Figure 1). For example, if you click on System Memory, you will see the amount of unused memory; Click CPU or Network to view the real-time usage of your Mac’s CPU and network connections.
You can also display a separate window with your CPU; Choose Window -> Show CPU Usage or press Command + 2. Activity Monitor gives you a choice of three different types of CPU (the central processing unit, usually called the “brain” of your Macintosh) displays:
CPU Floating Window: This is the smallest width of the CPU usage; The higher the CPU usage, the higher the reading on the screen. You can arrange the floating window in landscape or portrait mode from the Window menu.
CPU Usage Window: This is the standard CPU monitoring window, which uses a blue screen that looks like a thermometer. The screen works like a floating window.
CPU history window: This scroll screen uses different colors for
Help determine what percentage of CPU time your apps use (in green) and what percentage Tiger uses to keep things running (in red). You can use the History window to view CPU usage over time.
Whichever display type you choose, you can drag the window anywhere you want on the Mac OS X desktop. Use real-time feedback to determine how well the system’s CPU will perform when running applications or performing tasks in Mac OS X. If this remains The scale is at its peak for extended periods of time while using a range of applications, the processor is fully functional.
You can even monitor CPU, network, hard disk or memory usage right from the Dock. Choose View -> Dock Icon; Then choose the type of real-time graph you want to display in the Dock. (Do you feel like a Tiger power user yet?) When you monitor CPU usage from the Dock, the green portion of the bar indicates the amount of processor time used by the application program, and the red portion of the bar indicates the CPU time given to Mac OS X (just like the CPU History window).
Note, however, that seeing CPU capacity at its maximum does not necessarily mean that you need a faster CPU or a new computer. For example, if you’re running memory-predatory apps like Photoshop or Premiere, the Activity Monitor might hook up (to indicate maximum usage) for several seconds at a time. He barely moves the rest of the time. Whether your computer is fast enough for you and the apps you’re running is more than just a self-indulgent call on your part.