What’s slow­ing me down?

When some­thing on your Mac un­ex­pect­edly grinds to a halt, here’s how to get the low­down on what’s re­ally hap­pen­ing be­hind the scenes When your Mac‘s slowed by some­thing us­ing lots of re­sources, use this tool to iden­tify it

Mac Format - - FEATURE -

Think of Ac­tiv­ity Mon­i­tor as a win­dow on the in­ter­nal work­ings of your Mac, ob­serv­ing its pro­ces­sor, me­mory, en­ergy, stor­age and net­work ac­cess, and which apps or ser­vices are us­ing the most of each. Al­most al­ways, when an app is slow­ing down your com­puter by con­sum­ing more than its fair share of re­sources, this tool will help you to iden­tify that app so you can take re­me­dial steps.

Although it looks threat­en­ing to the unini­ti­ated, it doesn’t take long to get ac­quainted with Ac­tiv­ity Mon­i­tor’s way of work­ing. Be­fore we dive in to it, though, a word of warn­ing: save your work be­fore you do any­thing, as quit­ting pro­cesses (which is what Ac­tiv­ity Mon­i­tor calls both ap­pli­ca­tions and back­ground ser­vices) can cause you to lose data in open apps.

Start­ing at the bot­tom of the win­dow, the graph at the cen­tre is a time­line show­ing how re­source us­age has changed over time. The most re­cent mea­sure­ment is al­ways on the far right. Why the two colours? Blue rep­re­sents the re­sources used by pro­cesses (apps and their re­lated ser­vices) that have been ini­ti­ated by your user ac­count, whereas red in­di­cates what OS X has ini­ti­ated it­self.

Run­ning pro­cesses are listed in the ta­ble above; the User col­umn shows who is re­spon­si­ble for each – you or OS X. You can clus­ter them by click­ing the col­umn’s header. Click­ing the Process Name header sorts them al­pha­bet­i­cally, while click­ing any other one sorts things in as­cend­ing or de­scend­ing nu­mer­i­cal or­der to help quickly find the big­gest re­source hogs.

Un­re­spon­sive pro­cesses will be red; black ones are run­ning nor­mally, and you can quit one of ei­ther by se­lect­ing it and click­ing the first but­ton on the tool­bar – the cir­cle with a cross in it. Avoid do­ing this to pro­cesses in­sti­gated by OS X, as they’re of­ten vi­tal to the sys­tem run­ning smoothly, and man­u­ally shut­ting them down can cause the Mac to crash.

Two sec­tions – Net­work and En­ergy – don’t di­rectly re­late to the phys­i­cal specs of your Mac. Net­work is where you should look if your in­ter­net con­nec­tion’s run­ning slow, as you may spot a rogue process that’s send­ing or re­ceiv­ing an in­or­di­nate amount of un­ex­pected data. Click En­ergy if your Mac is run­ning hot or a MacBook’s bat­tery isn’t last­ing as long as you ex­pect.

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