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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions Pick of the Week
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[Score: 9 out of 10]
For years, I've used Raging Menace's free MenuMeters (Pick of the Week write-up) to keep an eye on my system. Although I've tried other apps over the years, this week's Pick is the first one that has me seriously considering changing my system monitoring utility. As with MenuMeters, iStat menus lets you monitor various system activities via menu bar icons. Also as with MenuMeters, you can monitor CPU usage, disk space, memory usage, and network activity. Buy you can also add icons to watch temperatures, fan speeds and power usage, Bluetooth, and even replace the stock date and time feature.

You can customize the appearance of each menu bar icon, as well as disable those you have no interest in seeing. When you click on a given menubar icon, you're given more information about that particular category of activity. For instance, when I click the CPU icon, I get a breakdown on usage between user, system, nice and idle processes, a live graph of CPU usage over time by core, the top five CPU-using processes, some data on loads and uptimes, and an icon to launch Activity Monitor. MenuMeters, by comparison, shows uptime, a task and thread count, and load averages (and buttons for Activity Monitor and Console). You'll get similar detail on the other options in iStat menus.

The replacement date and time function is a nice addition -- when you click the time, you'll get a full month's calendar in the menu that appears, and options to open the Date & Time System Preferences panel or iCal. (You can't, however, see any iCal events or to-do's on the calendar; for that, I really like MenuCalendarClock for iCal.)

iStat menus is a very useful system monitoring tool, and at the moment, I'm trying to decide exactly which to keep using--I prefer some of the icon display options and appearances in MenuMeters, but I like the additional tools and features in iStat menus. (If you'd like more info on iStat menus, including a number of screenshots, Macworld covered it in this recent Mac Gems entry.) As both are free to use, though, there's no cost to trying both and sticking with the one that works best for you.
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ditto
Authored by: chrisrosa on Jun 16, '08 07:34:41AM

Same story for me. Used menu meters forever. Switched to iStat Menu after giving it a test run almost a year ago. Love it! Really like the drop down calendar, and the ability to customize the time/date format (I have the day of the month icon w/ day of the week and 12hr time w/o AM/PM). Some of the best freeware I've seen!



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: MtnBiker on Jun 16, '08 08:28:20AM

Easy to set up the time display format than MenuCalendarClock too. And clocks for other time zones. I know there are and have been a million other programs that display times in different time zone, but I don't use this feature often and usually forget how I've set it up or which program to use; but I can probably remember that it's part of the time display!

Thanks for featuring this Rob.

---
Hermosa Beach, CA USA



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: S on Jun 16, '08 08:39:27AM

A little tip – adding a worldwide time to the Date & Time menu gives you very fast, two-click access to iStat's preferences.



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iPulse
Authored by: iRideSnow on Jun 16, '08 08:49:14AM
The folks at iSlayer have definitely done a good job with this tool as well as their iStat Pro widget. However, I still prefer iPulse from iconfactory. It takes a little while to get used to, and I prefer using one of the alternate, less-obtrusive, skins, but once you "get it", it's a one-glance item that sits on your desktop that shows you everything you need, coupled with the ability to drill-down for more detailed information.

iStat is doing the same thing, but in a slightly less elegant manner, requiring valuable menubar screen real estate for a similar amount of information.

iPulse is not free. I paid $13 for it over 4 years ago and consider it money well spent.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: asmeurer on Jun 16, '08 09:05:37AM

If this is anything like their superb iStat Pro Widget, then it must be good.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: SeBakasam on Jun 16, '08 12:25:21PM

I've been using iStat Menus for a few months now, and now it's one of my essential apps. It is amazing. Goodbye MenuMeters!



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: corienti on Jun 16, '08 01:12:45PM

Oh well, here's one strong vote for ol' MenuMeters. I tried iStat menus a while back, and while it was perfectly adequate, I found it to be far less subtle and simple than MenuMeters. MenuMeters is very subdued and subtle and I find it ideal.
I have smcFanControl in the menu for temp and fan speed, and I use MagiCal to do date and time.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: Imaria on Jun 16, '08 02:40:03PM

Agreed with the above; sometimes the oldies are still good.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: Mike Dillingham on Jun 16, '08 06:16:45PM

+1 to this I also prefer Menu Meters. However, I do use the iStat menus clock and calendar. So, best of both for me.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: Anonymous on Jun 16, '08 01:59:31PM

One disappointing aspect of iStat menus is that you can't install it for All Users (you can with MenuMeters).



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: operator207 on Jun 16, '08 02:41:25PM
I switched from
http://www.gauchosoft.com/Software/X%20Resource%20Graph/
X Resource Graph
When I got my new MBP because it would not do temps for it. Now it does. I LOVE XRG! Its like GKrellm for OS X.

I run it as a bar on the bottom, covered up unless I need it.

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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: sebastianlewis on Jun 16, '08 05:43:30PM

Well I really really want to like iStat menus.... I just installed it after reading this... trouble is, the iStat helper app made syslogd chew through most of my CPU turning my Macbook into a slideshow that is more boring than the ones your in-laws make you sit through after their unexciting trip to Hawai'i, which is of course a difficult feat to accomplish. I finally discovered the root of the problem and tried to kill off both the helper app and iStatMenusProces but killing off just the helper app seems to have done the trick, and iStat Menus is still running, now showing less CPU being eaten alive leaving it free for the KDE torrents I was trying to run before I was forced to try and murder the damn system log daemon.

Anyway, hope this helps anyone who's trying to figure out why syslogd has gone insane.

Sebastian



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: cleanhead on Jun 17, '08 11:11:08AM

iStat menus made a hellishly ugly mess of my menu bar. I couldn't quit and delete them fast enough.



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: sebastianlewis on Jun 17, '08 11:23:43AM

Haha, just customize which functions show in the menu bar and which don't, but I am myself now iStat menu less.... syslogd went nuts again after opening Amarok in X11 and listening to a Last.fm stream so I thought I might have been wrong... but the solution was the same, restart, kill the iStat Menus helper process, I went a step further to just completely uninstall iStat menus and I haven't tried Amarok again yet...

Sebastian



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iStat menus - Keep an eye on various system functions
Authored by: flammable on Jul 05, '08 06:17:24PM

Been a happy MenuMeters user for years now, too - what caused me to switch to iStat Menus was the top CPU-eating processes. When I've got a runaway process, and my processors spike up towards 100%, I need to find out what's going on.

MenuMeters gives me quick access to Activity Monitor, but launching it tends to take so long that I've got to wait until the CPU recovers from whatever is happening. Same with Console and Terminal. iStat Menus lets me see the list directly in the menu.

I miss the default Apple style that MenuMeters offers, as iStat Menus can be hard to read. That's been the only downside so far.



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