I’m a sucker for low end Mac applications. I’m also a sucker for nifty Mac applications that do easily what isn’t easy to do, or do it in a unique way.
Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your Mac while you work? Your Mac can tell you. Peek-a-Boo can tell your more and in a nifty way.
If you’re using Mac OS X Tiger or Panther, there’s a simple utility in the Applications Utility folder that will tell you more than you may need to know about what’s going on in your Mac.
It’s called Activity Monitor, and it’s simply a graphical way to show you all the processes running on your Mac. Peek-a-Boo does the same thing, only more, and with more fun.
For example, let’s say you have these applications open on your desktop: Mail, Safari, Microsoft Word, iCal, and iTunes. That’s four basic Mac applications.
However, Mac OS X’s engine could be running two dozen or three dozen ‘processes’. These include System Events, kernel_task, pmTool, WindowServer, crashreporterd, all your Widgets, Microsoft’s AU daemon, and many other internal applications that make the Mac run.
Open Activity Monitor and you’ll see a huge list of Processes. System Processes. User Processes. Processes I have no idea what they process.
Activity Monitor is handy because it can also show you a Mac application that is ‘hung’ or frozen and you can free up RAM and CPU usage by ‘killing’ the process.
There are also graphic representations of the CPU, System Memory (RAM and disk), Disk Activity, Disk Usage, and Network Usage.
So, how does the nifty little application called ‘Peek-a-Boo’ do anything different and justify a $20 price tag?
Peek-a-Boo is a bit different. While it does most of the above Activity Monitor functions, Peek-a-Boo also lets you manipulate those processes, adjust the resources, and still monitor each processes information.
Too geeky for you? You just want your Mac to work and don’t want to manipulate anything but your spouse and children? Me, too.
Except that Peek-a-Boo comes in very handy at times, particularly when we ask our Macs to do a little more than there’s RAM or CPU to do the job.
Got too many applications open on your Mac and they’re hogging your Mac’s power? Peek-a-Boo to the rescue. You can assign more ‘power’ to a favored application that needs it.
For example, Safari can be a resource hog if you get too many windows open. The same holds true for Microsoft Office. Let Peek-a-Boo adjust each one so it gets the ‘power’ from your Mac the way you want.
Peek-a-Boo is graphical in nature and is designed to display as much information about processes as possible, then lets you choose only those that are important to you.
If you saw the list in Activity Monitor you’ll agree that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not find the one process that’s mucking things up.
Mac OS X has three kinds of processes running at any time and only Peek-a-Boo can show you information about each; OS X native applications, Darwin processes (the Unix goodies), and Classic applications.
Also unique to Peek-a-Boo is the ability to customize what you see. Activity Monitor lists a gazillion processes, then the basic CPU, RAM, Disk, Network items.
Peek-a-Boo has a view menu which lets you see anything you want, and, more importantly, anything that’s special and not all the rest. There’s a Preference Pane which adds more customizing options.
Even Activity Monitor doesn’t make it easy for the Mac user to notice which application on OS X has gone crazy and is sucking up all the CPU’s power.
Ever wondered why your Mac suddenly slowed down to a crawl when it was running just fine an hour ago? A re-boot usually fixes the problem but it’ll come back.
Peek-a-Boo lets you find the problem, manipulate the process, and monitor the application in a graphical interface.
What turned me on (I’m easily excited about things that go ‘throb’) is Peek-a-Boo’s ‘Process Throb.’ This is the coolest way of looking at your Mac’s behavior.
The Process Throb is powered by OpenGL and gives you a window with all the Mac’s processes running at the same time—in icon form. Those applications with larger resource use show up as larger icons.
Instantly you can see what’s happening on your Mac without pouring through a long list of jargon and names you don’t understand.
Process Throb, like everything else in Peek-a-Boo, is dynamic. As new Mac OS X processes are started and stopped, the icons and lists change to reflect the new status.
This is just a nifty little utility that makes watching my Mac’s ‘backend’ a little more informative and much more pleasurable. Click Here to take a looks at Peek-a-Boo and view the demo movies.
How do you find these things, Alex? I’ve used Top and Activity Monitor for years and never liked either one. This is actually making processes fun to look at.
Jack D. Miller
From what I can read of the Peek-a-Boo developer, they’ve been building Mac software since the Mac Classic days. This is about as intuitive a technical application can be.
Carol Mary Miller
I have no clues what all those things are in Activity Monitor. If something goes ‘red’ I kill the processes and start over. The ‘Process Throb’ is very cool but needs to turn ‘red’ when something gets hung.
Tera Jean Patricks
There are many Mac applications which monitor or provide a different view of the Mac’s system processes, applications, network usage, and so on. There are even Widgets that do it, some that do it in the Menu Bar (Menu Meters is a favorite), but this one seems to have nailed the ‘Mac-like’ way making simple something that many see as complex.