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Old 23rd April 2003
BevvyB's Avatar
Ultimate system tools software thread

I've had a pig of a month with OSX and I'm not denying it

I have learned things I never thought I'd know (I guess that's called 'learning')

Anyway, without software I'd never have been able to get my software to work. If you know what i mean.

So, what software/tools/info is essential for troubleshooting and cleansing your extremely fragile and petulant OS X system? (homage a Jules there)....

Here we go, from personal experience. Non-inclusion of similar software doesn't mean I've forgotten it, it means I don't think it's really up for the job. I've tried everything.


Maintenance Essentials:
Drive 10
Data Rescue X
Carbon Copy Cloner
Jaguar Cache Cleaner

Already Includedware Maintenance Essentials:
Process Viewer
Net Info Manager
Disk Utility

Not Essential But Really Useful:

Productivity Tools:
Show Desktop

Great Fun:
Marine Fish Aquarium


OS X support:

Audio related OS X:

Useful OS X tips n tricks:

GUI fiddling OS X:




Before we all got started on Mac's and were using Ataris, none of us had ever heard of extension clashes. You had to learn about it.

Well, it's the same in OS X.

Here's a list of some of the things that you're going to learn about in OS X whether you like it or not:


You thought they'd vanished in X? So did I. They haven't. They just work differently and have different names.


Everything on the system knows who it belongs to. And sometimes it thinks that person ISN'T you. Sometimes permissions need 'repairing'. Quite often actually, but usually the system takes care of it automatically.


Something the OS does in the background MOSTLY. This is where it scans all your apps and works out IN ADVANCE what resources they're going to need. make launching and general working of your computer faster. Until you install something.

The shell:

Let's not kid ourselves here. Just because our Macs have never shown us anything 'computer' like (such as all that junk you see appearing on startup on windows machines - urgh - how ugly) doesn' mean it's never been doing exaclty the same stuff in the background.

Well, now you can see all that stuff if you want to. And actually, once you get your head around it, it's jolly useful.

Terminal commands:

Most of the shareware knocking around at the moment simply accesses already existing maintenance routines that exist in UNIX, but gives them a nice look.

There's going to end up being so many of them that to be honest learning a smidge of UNIX can only be a good thing.

Whenever you have a crash, I reccomend you do this:

On boot, hold apple S
This gets you into the shell
type fsck -y
-That UNIX command does a File System Consistency Check. If it reports errors it tries to fix them. Run that again till there are no errors
type reboot
-The machine boots back into OS X

Extensions loading view:

In 9 you can watch the extensions load up on startup. It's kind of pretty.

You can't see it in OS X.

Unless you hold apple V on startup. But it's not pretty.

Crash Files:

OS X tries to keep a log of every crash it ever had for every app and the whole system.

You can open them with the supplied application called 'Console'

I won't go into detail here. Suffice to say that looking at these logs helps you understand what is going wrong and also lets you give feedback to your third party vendors. Such as MOTU. Grr.


I will write more on Unix and shell stuff later. Please feel free to add anything to this list of stuff. I'll compile it all together and make it available.

After I've bought the biggest book on UNIX I can find and eaten it. Why? Because your technical conversations to tech support over the next TEN YEARS are going to be riddled with it. So either you do it, or your younger assistant learns it.

Thanks to Alan Mcal for couple of good hints.