Archive for the ‘App Tamer’ Category

App Tamer 2.0.2 Delivers Fixes and UI Tweaks

Friday, March 28th, 2014

App Tamer 2.0.2 is available now, providing fixes for a couple of bugs, as well as some minor changes to the UI that help to show what’s going on.

First the fixes:

  • In certain situations, App Tamer 2.0.1 could crash when you launched it. This was due to a bug in the way it tracked subprocesses. The common example was a command in Terminal that ran a couple of other commands which in turn spawned subprocesses themselves. A few simple checks were all that was needed to fix it.
  • A more common problem was that App Tamer would occasionally stop limiting the CPU usage of an application it was supposed to be managing. This turned out to be a timing issue: If App Tamer stopped throttling a process and then immediately started again, the original CPU limiter would still be winding down and App Tamer would find it and use it rather than creating a new one. A few milliseconds later,¬†that CPU limiter would finish shutting down and disappear, leaving the managed application free to use as much CPU as it wanted. App Tamer doesn’t do that anymore ūüôā

The UI enhancements:

  • Mark Mackay, an App Tamer user in New Zealand, pointed out that if App Tamer wasn’t limiting the CPU use of an application at the time (because that app wasn’t doing anything) he couldn’t tell if he’d configured App Tamer to slow it down. He suggested I enhance the status indicators that App Tamer puts next to each application to somehow show that running apps – the ones with blue squares – had settings attached to them. A little triangle of color in the bottom right corner now shows you if that app will be slowed down or stopped (with yellow or red corners, respectively).
  • Version 2.0.2 also dims the icon and name of any application or process that can’t be stopped, so you know not to bother clicking on them.

Grab your copy from the App Tamer Release page. The update is free if you’ve bought App Tamer 2!

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App Tamer 2.0 : New UI, New Capabilities, More Battery and CPU Savings

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

App Tamer 2.0 is finally available, and the changes are pretty exciting. The user interface is faster and easier to use, both for checking on the performance of your Mac and for managing applications that are sucking up too much CPU time.

And even more importantly, App Tamer can now slow down applications as well as stop them, so you can use it to reduce the CPU usage of some annoying applications even though those apps still need to ¬†work while they’re in the background. Think Spotlight, Mail, Time Machine – things that seem to randomly spike the processor usage on your computer, slowing down what you’re doing or making the fans suddenly roar like a Boeing 747. Tell App Tamer not to let Spotlight take more than 25% of your processor time and those CPU spikes magically go away!

If your Mac’s fans are driving you crazy or your battery life is suffering at the hands of some self-important app that thinks it needs to hog the processor, grab App Tamer 2.0 and let it take care of it.

Get it here: App Tamer 2.0

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App Tamer 1.3.2: Retina displays and background scrolling

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Version 1.3.2 of App Tamer is out, sporting high resolution graphics for all you lucky Retina Display owners. It also lets you scroll the windows of applications that are stopped in the background. This lets you read web pages while Safari is in the background, for example, even if you have App Tamer’s AutoStop feature set to stop it so it doesn’t use extra CPU time.

I’m also excited about an upcoming feature I’m working on for App Tamer 2.0. It lets you set a maximum amount of CPU to give an application – it doesn’t stop the app, but just slows it down if the app starts sucking down too much processing power. I’ve found it very useful in keeping Spotlight from taking over my machine while I’m working, and limiting churn from other applications that inevitably spike the CPU right when I’m trying to get something done. It’s still in need of a lot of integration – the feature works but there isn’t any real UI for it yet (it currently just limits Mail, mds and the Finder to no more than 10% CPU as a proof of concept). It’s very cool to watch it do its thing, though!

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App Tamer 1.2 : What’s in a menubar icon?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It started as a request from a user who wanted a color App Tamer icon so he could pick it out more easily amongst all the icons in his menubar. But being an obsessive developer, I wondered if I couldn’t make that colored icon more useful too. Just last month, Adam Engst wrote an article in TidBITS detailing how iCloud had chewed up the battery in his MacBook Air before he could catch it. It was using 100% of one CPU trying to sync his bookmarks even though WiFi was turned off. If he’d known that the CPU usage was through the roof when it happened, he could have stopped it and had enough battery for his whole plane flight. Instead, he had to read the in-flight magazine and gaze out the window instead of finishing the book he was writing.

So what if I could blend those two purposes? I tweaked App Tamer to colorize its icon based on CPU usage, like this (I can’t believe I just uploaded an animated gif for this – talk about retro…):

It’s subtle for low CPU values – you might want to take note of it, but it’s no crisis you need to be alerted about. But as CPU load increases, it gets brighter until it really gets your attention at 100%. If there’s something that’s sucking down all of your processing power, you want to know.

It’s a fairly minor feature, but I now appreciate it being right there all the time. I hate having to plug in my MacBook Pro in the coffee shop just because something decided it had to do a bunch of useless work in the background while I was answering emails!¬†So grab a copy of App Tamer 1.2 and check it out – I’m pretty pleased with it. Be aware that if it’s not your thing, you can easily turn it off with a trip to your App Tamer preferences.

Oh, and also new in version 1.2 is support for Firefox 11 and a fix for some troubles App Tamer was having when the system didn’t notify it about an application launching or quitting.

Details and download links are on the What’s New in App Tamer page.

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App Tamer in the MacLegion Spring Bundle: $49.99 for 10 applications

Monday, March 5th, 2012

App Tamer is being bundled with 9 other great applications in the MacLegion Spring Bundle! ¬†Not only do you get App Tamer’s great performance enhancements, you get some exceptional (and expensive) applications for only $49.99. ¬†That includes Billings Pro, Kinemac, MoneyWell, Hydra Pro, Circus Ponies Notebook, GarageSale, Home Inventory, My Living Desktop and WhatSize. ¬†If you use even one of these apps it makes sense to buy the bundle.

Head over to and check out the deal. ¬†They’ve got descriptions of all the applications, and a link to download them all at once so you can give them a try.

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Catching Up: Default Folder X, App Tamer and Jettison Updates

Friday, November 4th, 2011

I’ve been quiet for a while – a lot has been going on both within St. Clair Software and around it. For starters, we’ve had a number of updates:

App Tamer is up to version 1.1.1 now, addressing compatibility with Alien Skin’s Photoshop plug-ins as well as improving on App Tamer’s own miserly CPU usage. There was one problem in particular that was interesting: When people update to Lion, there are often background or helper applications that are no longer configured correctly (components installed in /System or /Library are missing, for instance). This can result in startup applications launching over and over again. As a user, you often never see this, but if you look in your Console log, there are heaps of messages documenting it. Because App Tamer does some work each time an application launches, customers were complaining that it was using lots of CPU time – an investigation turned up this repeated-launching problem on their machines. App Tamer has now been tweaked to minimize the impact on CPU usage, but the solution is really to fix whatever’s broken on your system.

Jettison was updated to version 1.1 in the Mac App Store, giving you the option to hide its menubar icon and working around a bug in Lion (a bug in OS X, not Jettison) that delayed Jettison’s “it’s ok to unplug” beep sound until the Mac woke back up from sleep. Which, yeah, made the beep totally useless…

Finally, there have been some compatibility issues with Default Folder X, the worst of which actually caused some applications to crash. Versions 4.4.4, 4.4.5 and 4.4.6 addressed various problems that resulted from architectural changes in Lion and the corresponding adaptations in Default Folder X. So things are once again right in the Default Folder X world. The latest beta (more on that in the next post) closes the last issue that I’m aware of.

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App Tamer 1.1 slashes CPU usage and fine tunes Lion compatibility

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

App Tamer 1.1 is now available! It reduces App Tamer’s own CPU usage to save even more battery and CPU power. It also corrects some compatibility issues with Lion to ensure that everything runs smoothly as you upgrade.

For more information, download links and an introductory screencast, go to the App Tamer page. The What’s New page lists the specific changes.

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App Tamer 1.0.9 brings Lion Compatibility and Smoother Gaming

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

App Tamer 1.0.9 is available, delivering compatibility with Mac OS 10.7 Lion. Older versions could crash when your Mac woke from sleep. This version also improves gaming mode by stopping Time Machine backups and Spotlight indexing – things which tend to cause annoying stutters because of all the disk I/O they perform.

Grab your copy from the App Tamer release page. If you’ve got an suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to drop us a note!

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App Tamer 1.0.5 – Compatibility with Parallels and Lion

Monday, March 14th, 2011

This App Tamer update fixes compatibility issues with Parallels Desktop and the developer release of Mac OS 10.7 “Lion”:

In past versions, if you used App Tamer to pause Parallels Desktop, you’d get these annoying, 3-5 second¬†pauses in mouse and keyboard input whenever Parallels stopped. ¬†This was due to the way Parallels handled the mouse and keyboard. ¬†App Tamer now only pauses the Parallels virtual machine processes and leaves the Parallels Desktop app running – that works around the issue and still cuts nearly all of the CPU use associated with Parallels. ¬†Thanks to the excellent tech support folks at Parallels who helped us find this workaround!

In Mac OS 10.7, Safari is based on WebKit 2, which does more ‘sandboxing’ of web content. ¬†It basically puts many tasks (like Flash plugins and JavaScript scripts) in separate processes. ¬†App Tamer already handled this sort of thing adeptly, but in 10.7, downloads are also done by a separate process, and that broke App Tamer’s download checking. ¬†This new release fixes that – if Safari is downloading something, App Tamer won’t stop it in the background even if AutoStop is turned on.

And finally, there are some new features and tweaks in version 1.0.5, as well.  The list of stopped processes at the top of the App Tamer window gets a new contextual menu.  This lets you easily turn AutoStop off for the selected process, or quit, force quit, or relaunch that app. Also, double-clicking an app in the list will activate it, and selecting it in the list will show it in the Details drawer so you can see more information about it.

If you’re already running App Tamer, you can get the new version using its “Check for Updates” command in the App Tamer menu. ¬†Or you can hop over to and download it from there.

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App Tamer 1.0.4 – A Couple Quick Fixes

Friday, February 4th, 2011

There were two issues with version 1.0.3 that we missed in testing – both of them happen only in fairly uncommon circumstances, but are serious enough that they merit a new release to fix them.

App Tamer 1.0.4 addresses two problems:

  1. When running under high CPU load, App Tamer’s real-time CPU usage graphs could stop updating. This is fairly uncommon, but is bound to impact many people at some point in time.
  2. Version 1.0.3 wouldn’t accept certain license codes. ¬†If this impacted you, you’ve already experienced it after upgrading. To our knowledge, it happened very rarely, but the bug has now been fixed and should no longer frustrate people.

You can download a copy of App Tamer 1.0.4 using this link.

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