However, if your Mac is a little older, short on RAM, and the spinning beach ball is beginning to annoy you, add System Lens to see what’s clogging up the digital pipes, and what needs to be tamed.
It’s Getting Hot In There
There are two inexpensive ways to check on your Mac’s system status and both are free. One is simply easier to use than the other.
First on the list is the Activity Monitor app in your Mac’s Applications > Utilities folder. It lists a bunch of confusing information in a not very pretty or elegant interface.
That is so unlike Apple. More like the Mac way of presenting data visually is System Lens, a unique tool that gives you a system check at a glance from the Menubar.
System Lens quickly tells you which apps are using the most resources, and gives you the option to quit apps that you are not using at the moment.
The entire visual display is customizable with thresholds you control. To see what’s happening inside simply click the Menubar icon.
Here’s what it looks like.
If the spinning beach ball is all you see, a click to the Menubar will tell which app is using the most resources at the moment.
Customizations are easy, too. Open Preferences and change the settings as needed to match your Mac’s resources and RAM.
I divide my Mac time between two models at opposite ends of the scale. The desktop is quad-core iMac with 16GB of RAM and very fast SSD storage. I never see the spinning beach ball on the iMac, even when I open and run a dozen apps at the same time.
That said, my trusty and more mobile MacBook Air is substantially anemic, still with an SSD, but limited to 4GB of RAM. With Safari, Calendar, and Mail running, any additional app or utility starts the beach ball express.
With System Lens I can see what’s hogging the CPU and slowing things down (often it’s Safari with a few websites open, running Flash animated ads) without resorting to the complexity of the Activity Monitor app.
Both are free. One is just easier to use.