The vast majority of the world’s computer users are on Windows PCs. Mac users are not just eye candy aficionados. We tend to prefer substance over style. So it is with Mac software.
For example, how many ways can you find Wi-Fi hotspots using your Mac? The effort can begin with the Mac Airport utility which is free and built-in, to a standalone utility (also free) that does more, to a bucket of eye candy with a price tag. What’ll it be? Find Wi-Fi for free? Or, pay to find Wi-Fi?
Your Mac Finds Wi-Fi Hotspots
Most Mac users have notebooks—MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro. Almost all Mac users have Airport built-in, so connecting to a wireless network, or hotspot, is just a click or two away.
How do you find the Wi-Fi network to connect? First, look in your Mac’s Menubar.
Click on the Airport icon. Your Mac will reveal the wireless networks within range.
If you take your Mac notebook on the road, Airport helps you find Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to the internet. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Why would you need anything else?
Stumble On To The Free iStumbler
What if your Mac had a simple utility that not only found Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, but also found Bonjour networks, Bluetooth networks, and could remember network settings and locations?
That’s what iStumbler does—the free wireless and network finder for your Mac. It’s easier to use than bouncing between the Mac Menubar, or the Network settings in System Preferences.
iStumbler is almost elegant. Click on Airport, and iStumbler scans the airwaves for nearby networks; Wi-Fi hotspots. It displays the security protocol used, network type, network name, signal strength (as a graph and percentage), percent of noise, channel, frequency and more.
What’s not to like? iStumbler is free, easy to use, very handy for traveling, and provides more functionality and eye candy than Apple’s Network or Airport settings.
Pure Eye Candy Costs Coin
What if you’re a Mac user who’s into serious eye candy and collect utilities which do this and that in the prettiest of cosmetic packages—and you’re willing to pay the piper?
Enter AirRadar. It’s the Richie Rich of wireless network scanners for Mac users, the Pamela Anderson of Wi-Fi utilities.
What you get with AirRadar is nothing short of a Fisher-Price approach to finding wireless networks. Big and bright icons abound, both in the customizable toolbar at the top, and the sections settings in the left column. True, you still get the same information as iStumbler, but the package is glitter personified.
What’s not to like? For $20 you get not just the same functionality as iStumbler, and big, bold, almost protruding buttons, but you get preferences to die for.
Select specific sounds for alerts. Have your Mac speak the Wi-Fi network’s name. Auto connect to the best network. Adjust the display colors for specific networks. Change the colors of the wireless network performance graphs to suit your mood, or whatever clothing you’re wearing.
AirRadar is the Lady Gaga of Mac network scanning tools.
Save and load different networks. Click the eye glasses icon to view the details. Click the smiley face Join Network icon (because, after all, joining a network should be a joyous occasion).
Got favorite networks? It’s a Valentine’s Day heart and a click to add to your list. Sure, there’s pretty buttons, and filters, and a colorful graph of the network signal. But there’s no way to find a Bonjour network or Bluetooth network. For that you’ll need iStumbler.
There are times when I love eye candy. A little style with similar substance is a good balance. After all, a little sizzle makes the steak seem juicy and tasty. But too much sauce can ruin the steak’s natural flavoring.
For some, simple is better. For that approach, your Mac’s built-in System Preference tools work fine. For others, more functionality in one elegant package is even better. For well-to-do Mac users with no financial restrictions, AirRadar gives you a Las Vegas show with glitter and glamor and a similar price.