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 2.1.
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
Which applications should I slow or stop with App Tamer?
You can use App Tamer with just about any application. It comes pre-configured
for many common ones. For those that it doesn't handle automatically, follow
First, click on App Tamer in your menubar and see which
applications are using CPU while they're idle in the background. Now consider
what these applications do, and if they'll work just as well when slowed down
or stopped. To change the settings for one of them, just click on it in the
Here are some things to consider:
- The Finder should usually be left running because it provides services to a lot of other applications.
- If an application performs a service without coming to the front, like Mail checking your email, you should slow but not stop it.
- If an application receives notifications, chat messages, tweets, or other data from the Internet without you doing anything, it should be slowed but not stopped.
- If an application floats windows above other windows to add features, as is done by Default Folder X, Drag Thing, or other UI utilities, they should be slowed but not be stopped. Also, their
usability could be affected when they're slowed down. Experiment with different CPU limits.
To choose a CPU percentage for slowing down an app, set it as low as possible
while not impacting your work. Some, like Spotlight, need to be given enough
CPU to get their jobs done, so you may have to experiment a bit. App Tamer
comes pre-configured with good settings for many of these.
Focus on applications that are using CPU when you don't want them to. And remember: if something "freezes" or doesn't work correctly, turn off App Tamer using its On/Off switch to see if the problem is due to an application being slowed or stopped.
What about OS X's App Nap feature?
Apple knows a good thing when they see it. Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks introduced
App Nap, a feature 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 App Nap doesn't work at all with behind-the-scenes
applications like Spotlight and Time Machine.
App Tamer gives you control. If Spotlight is overheating your Mac and making the
fans rev up like a fighter jet, for example, just select it and tell App Tamer to keep
its CPU usage below 25%. If you want Chrome to use less CPU but still want to be able
to glance at its windows in the background, just set its CPU limit to 2% with App Tamer.
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 stopped, 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 App Tamer's window if it's open. Updating and sorting
the process list accounts for most of App Tamer's CPU usage.
- Increase the CPU statistics update time to 10 or 15 seconds (instead of
the default 5 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:
- Click on App Tamer's icon in your menubar.
- 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 has paused an app that's using 10%
of my CPU, but the overall CPU usage on my Mac 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.
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