It’s hard to argue with the value because Activity Monitor is free, built-in, and displays a lengthy list of information about each app and process running on your Mac. Is there a better way? Yes, System Monitor picks up where Activity Monitor leaves off.
The only real problem with using Apple’s built-in monitoring utility is how it’s displayed. The Dock icon doesn’t display much information. Worse, having the utility run while you’re working on other apps means you have to stop what you’re doing and switch to Activity Monitor to get details.
Even better is the appropriately named System Monitor utility app which displays vital information in the Mac’s Menubar, but a single click– from within any Mac app– displays even more valuable data.
The list of metrics viewable in the Menubar is useful, but the list of available metrics– with a click– is downright extensive. Not only can you view the Mac’s system load, the top 5 processes are instantly visible.
Unlike Activity Monitor, you’ll also get CPU temperature, fan revolution speeds, memory hogs, network traffic (in and out), transfer rates, all easily viewed with little more than a click.
There is much to like here and System Monitor costs just a few dollars– a good value considering all the vital statistics and sensors and tracking it does. Most of what you’ll need to view the Mac’s health at any moment is in the Menubar.
The geekier Mac user will appreciate all the details and eye candy with a few clicks to the app so it displays network interfaces, Airport details, storage disks, volumes, memory, processes and much more. It’s priced right, comes with a trial version, a manual, and saves space in the Dock (but not the Menubar).