Here are some questions and problems that people often encounter when using App
Before consulting this list or contacting us, please make sure you
are using the latest release of App Tamer, version 1.3.2.
If you have a problem that is not addressed here or feel a question should
be here but isn't, please send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
What applications should I autostop with App Tamer?
First, open App Tamer's Details drawer and see which applications are using
CPU while they're idle in the background. Sort the list by clicking at the
top of the "% Avg" column until the triangle is pointing downward to show
the biggest offenders first. Now consider what these applications do, and
if they're good candidates for AutoStop, turn on the checkbox next to that
Here are some guidelines:
- The Finder should usually be left running because it provides services to a lot of other applications.
- If an application to performs some service without coming to the front, like Mail.app checking your email every 5 minutes, then you should NOT autostop it.
- If an application receives notifications, chat messages, tweets, or other data from the Internet or elsewhere without you doing anything, that app should be left running.
- If an application floats windows above other windows to add features, as is done by Default Folder X, Drag Thing, or other UI utilities, you should NOT autostop it.
- Otherwise, if an application doesn't do anything "on its own" while it's in the background, you can AutoStop it.
You may have to experiment a bit with your applications. Focus on the ones that are using CPU when you don't want them to. And remember: if something "freezes," you should turn off AutoStop (in the menubar or using the big On/Off switch in App Tamer) to see if the pause is due to an application being stopped.
App Tamer will not start up. It keeps saying it needs to install its helper application and asking me for the administrator password.
This happens when another application has installed a helper app into the folder "/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/" and has given the folder the wrong security permissions.
The easiest way to fix this is to download an AppleScript we've created called "Fix
PrivilegedHelperTools permissions". You can get it by clicking
unzip the script application, double-click it, and type your administrator password into the dialog box that comes up.
After doing so, you should be able to launch App Tamer and install its helper
Stopped applications don't wake up when I click on them in the Dock. What's wrong?
Please run the Console application in /Applications/Utilities. Look for error messages like this one:
5/26/11 10:53:00 PM App Tamer event tap was disabled so I reenabled it
If you're getting these, the system is disabling App Tamer's request to
be notified when you click in the Dock. When this happens, App Tamer won't
restart stopped applications because it doesn't know you've clicked on them.
This is most often caused by the Dock restarting. Some possible causes and
- Some applications that modify the way the Dock works, like DockSpaces, do this intentionally to make the Dock reload its preferences.
Because of this, DockSpaces and similar applications are incompatible with App Tamer.
- The Dock occasionally crashes because of a bug or corrupted data. If this has happened, restarting your Mac may fix things with App Tamer. If it was an
isolated incident, you can just continue without giving it another thought. If it happens again, you'll have to figure out why the Dock is crashing and restarting on
Thanks to Rick Stahlhut for tracking this down!
When an application is paused, I get a spinning beachball cursor and the Dock says the app is not responding.
This is normal - because App Tamer completely stops processes, they do not
respond to OS X's checks to see if they're running. As a result, OS X will display its spinning beachball cursor when you move the mouse over
a stopped application's windows. Unfortunately, there's not a practical way for App Tamer to prevent this. Rest assured, however, that if you
click on a stopped application's window, App Tamer will wake it up and it will respond normally.
How can I reduce App Tamer's CPU usage?
In normal operation, App Tamer should only use a few percent of your CPU.
However, you can do a few things to reduce this even further:
- Close the Details drawer. Updating and sorting
the process list accounts for nearly one third of App Tamer's CPU usage.
- Increase the CPU statistics update time to 4 or 5 seconds (instead of the
default 2 seconds) in your App Tamer preferences.
App Tamer is waking all my apps every time I click the mouse. What's wrong and how do I fix it?
There's a bug in OS X which causes it to get confused and start sending
click notifications to App Tamer for every mouse click, rather than just clicks
on the Dock. To recover from the problem, please do the following:
- In App Tamer's window, click on 'Details' so that the process list is showing.
- Make sure that the menu in the Details drawer is set to 'All Processes.'
- Find the Dock in the process list.
- Control-click on the Dock and choose 'Quit' from the menu. The Dock should
- Quit App Tamer and launch it again.
App Tamer pauses an app that's using 10%
of my CPU, but the overall CPU usage only drops by 5%. Why?
When App Tamer shows the CPU use of an application, it reports it as a percentage
of 1 CPU. This is the way Apple's Activity Monitor does it,
so we use the same method so we don't sow mass confusion (of course, having
a process use 120% CPU seems confusing to me, but what do I know?)
App Tamer's overall
CPU graph displays the total for your entire computer. If your Mac has
multiple CPU cores (as most do these days), there's a not a one-to-one correspondence
between total CPU and per-application CPU usage. For example, stopping a process
that's using 10% of one CPU will only result in a 5% reduction in the overall
CPU consumption on a dual core machine.
What is Gaming Mode? When should I use it?
App Tamer's 'Gaming Mode' overrides all the AutoStop settings and pauses all
applications running in the background (except for Steam).
Gaming mode frees up the most available CPU power and minimizes interruptions.
However, because it pauses the Finder and other apps that provide some of
OS X's services, you shouldn't use it unless you're running an app that doesn't
interact with the system (like most games).
What does the Priority setting do?
App Tamer has a slider that lets you adjust the priority of individual processes. For UNIX geeks who know what the 'nice' command does, this is App Tamer's way of setting the nice value of a process. App Tamer translates the confusing values used by 'nice' into an easier priority scale of -5 to 5, where higher numbers represent higher priority.
For the not-so-geeky folks out there, the priority basically tells Mac OS X which processes are more important. Unlike AutoStop, however, the priority values don't really come into play until your machine is very busy - once the CPUs are nearly maxed out, OS X will favor high priority tasks over low priority ones. Because this rarely actually happens, the priority settings are less useful than AutoStop if you're looking to reduce battery and processor usage when your CPUs are not fully utilized.
What about App Nap in Mavericks?
Apple knows a good thing when they see it. They've
announced a feature in Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks that 's
similar to App Tamer. But to activate it you have
to hide or completely cover an application's windows,
making it not-so-automatic.
And the next version of App Tamer will leapfrog this.
You can limit any app (like Spotlight's indexing)
to no more than a certain amount of CPU power. App
Tamer will slow it down to keep it from taking over
your computer, but still lets it run. Ask for a beta
copy if you'd like to try it now :)
Can you tell me what process <insert-name-here> does?
There are a lot of processes running on Mac OS X all of the
time - many provide services to the OS or other applications.
There's a fairly complete list of them at http://triviaware.com/macprocess/all