Your Mac has a split personality. On the outside, a Mac is elegant and easy-to-use. Features and functions are simple to use.
On the inside, your Mac is a complex Unix-based beast of an operating system, which, for the most part, you get to ignore. However, Unix comes with plenty of powerful and dependable tools which make Mac life easier—like the secret timer.
Get Geeky—Automate Your Mac
Your Mac’s Unix underpinnings give it stability, security, flexibility, and seemingly hidden features and complex features like cron table. Cron is a timer system that can be set to invoke certain functions at certain times.
Cron is dependable but limited; useful, but complicated to use.
Easy to use is important because cron tables can be set up using Terminal so you don’t need an app, but it’s not a venture for the faint of heart. Cron is complicated.
Cron is driven by a crontab (cron table) file, a configuration file that specifies shell commands to run periodically on a given schedule. The crontab files are stored where the lists of jobs and other instructions to the cron daemon are kept.
Got that? It gets worse.
Users can have their own individual crontab files and often there is a system wide crontab file (usually in /etc or a subdirectory of /etc) which only system administrators can edit. Each line of a crontab file represents a job and is composed of a CRON expression, followed by a shell command to execute.
Cronette and CronniX give you a simplified front end which makes it easier to use cron’s mighty powers. It can be set to launch a task, open a document, start up an app. Cron stays running in the background and does as it is told.
Cronette’s interface is straightforward and Mac-like.
For most Mac users, cron has limitations, and the real value is behind the scenes, running Unix shell scripts and performing backend maintenance functions. But Cronette uses familiar tools, buttons, and selections.
The CronniX interface is a little more geeky, and much less intuitive.
In the case of these two Mac cron utilities, you get what you pay for.
Both apps modify your Mac’s built-in cron tables and the Mac does the work. CronniX is free while Cronette has a price tag.
Of course, your Mac’s Terminal app is free, and if you don’t mind getting your hands geeky, the command line interface will do the same thing.
What Cron does can be very useful and a good way to learn more about the Unix power that hides beneath OS X’s pretty skin. You can also check out the Best Free Apps To Manage Mac System Maintenance, or try YASU – Yet Another System Utility For Macs. Or, simply learn How To Automate Mac Tasks With Alarm Clock Pro. More ways to get your Mac geek on.