Archive for the ‘App Tamer’ Category

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

App Tamer 1.0.3 is available!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

We’ve made a number of improvements to App Tamer – thanks to everyone that made suggestions and helped test them! It’s all now ready for public consumption as version 1.0.3.

Popular changes are the addition of an auto-hide option that hides all stopped applications, and display of the % cpu saved by each application in the “stopped applications” list. There are also a bunch of compatibility fixes and little UI improvements. Check out the App Tamer release page for all the details.

Replacing Apple Downloads with the Mac App Store

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Apple has long had Apple Downloads, a section of that lists third-party software.  It’s been a popular place for users to browse and sample the wealth of Mac software available from both large and small developers, including St. Clair Software. We get a significant amount of web traffic from Apple Downloads.

I recently received an email from Ron Okamoto, Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple, notifying developers that Apple Downloads will be going away, replaced by the new Mac App Store. Because both Default Folder X and App Tamer do not meet the Mac App Store guidelines, this is a big cause of concern for us. We’ll lose a lot of customer visibility, and won’t be able to replace it by putting our apps in the Mac App Store.

I wrote Ron this reply:

Thanks for your notification – I can’t say that I’m surprised as Apple’s support for the Downloads section of has been waning for quite a while.  I fully expected Apple Downloads to just go away without even getting a notification, so I applaud your professionalism in actually letting us know.
As a long-time Apple developer (I’ve been doing this since 1988) I’ve become accustomed to changes in direction, forced rewrites as Apple has adopted or invented new technologies, and sometimes capricious decision making on Apple’s part. As in the past, I’ll deal with what comes my way and work to keep my business healthy, but shutting down a primary traffic source for our web site is going to make things quite a bit more difficult.
In your letter, you say “the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps,” but that doesn’t apply to my two best-selling applications, nor to those of many other developers.  The guidelines put in place for the Mac App Store disqualify Default Folder X and App Tamer from inclusion in the App Store, despite their popularity and utility.  I’m left to reinvent my products and company (again) as they don’t fit Apple’s vision of what a Mac application should be.  There are numerous developers in my position. We make useful – some would say essential – products that users will now have a more difficult time finding as Apple drives customers and market focus to the Mac App Store.
For small developers with applications that don’t fit the guidelines, is there some avenue that we can pursue for getting exposure on the new Mac App Store?  Some kind of advertising / comarketing that we can participate in to get into an “other great apps” section where users can at least see that our products are available?  If such an “Apple Downloads for the App Store” were an option, I certainly wouldn’t argue with giving Apple a percentage in return for what I anticipate will be a lot of traffic.
I’m running a business, and I understand that you’re running yours.  I know that you need to have restrictions for apps in the Mac App Store in order to ensure that users have a seamless, trouble-free experience and I respect that. It’s what will ultimately make it a big success. But as a developer of applications that won’t be allowed in the store, I’d like to see alternatives that would let me focus on keeping those applications alive and vibrant.
– Jon Gotow, President, St. Clair Software
Quick follow-up: It looks like I need to address a few questions based on the tweets I’ve been been getting:
Default Folder X and App Tamer aren’t going away – this affects how much time we spend developing vs. marketing. The more we have to work at getting users to see our products the less time we have to develop them.
Why can’t Default Folder X and App Tamer be in the App Store? Click here to see a PDF of the Mac App Store guidelines. Default Folder X fails to meet item 2.15 (it installs a Scripting Addition) and may also violate item 6.5, since it creates floating windows around file dialogs that could be construed as “changing native user interface elements.” App Tamer violates 2.27 because it asks for your admin password (and needs to).

App Tamer 1.0.2 Tips and Tricks

Monday, December 20th, 2010

A couple of App Tamer’s extra preference settings aren’t actually documented in the released version. They were added during development and were described in the beta notes, but never made it into the documentation. So, until that gets resolved in the docs for version 1.0.3, here’s a quick run-down:

  1. App Tamer can hide applications when they are stopped rather than dimming their windows. To turn this on, quit App Tamer and then use this command in Terminal:

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer hideWhenStopped 1

    To turn the feature back off, use:

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer hideWhenStopped 0

  2. When window dimming is turned on, the brightness of the dimmed windows can be modified with a defaults setting. Run this command in Terminal (the default value is 65% – lower percentages are darker, higher percentages are brighter):

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer dimPercentage 65

App Tamer 1.0.1 is available

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

The reception for App Tamer has been fantastic!  I’m particularly happy with Jeff Porten’s article on, where he aptly describes App Tamer as “giving you a faster computer and a longer-lasting battery through the magic of not-making-your-Mac-work-as-hard.”

We’ve now got a minor update that addresses a few issues, as well as making App Tamer run a little more efficiently, so it uses less of your CPU time to save you CPU time.  These are fairly minor changes because there just haven’t been a lot of problems found with App Tamer 🙂

Check the App Tamer Release Page for all the details and download links.

If you haven’t tried App Tamer yet, by all means give it a look!  The download is a full-featured 15 day trial, and all you do to buy it is make a purchase from our web store and enter your serial number into the demo copy.

App Tamer almost finished!

Friday, September 10th, 2010

So I’ve been working on this little application that fixes an annoying problem in OS X.

You may have noticed that the remaining battery life on your MacBook Pro (or whatever laptop you have) often plummets if you leave Safari displaying an ad in the background. That’s because most web browsers, as well as a number of other apps, continue running tasks or animations even when they’re sitting idle in the background. This can be pretty frustrating if you’re actually trying to conserve battery or use that CPU power for something useful.

I wrote App Tamer to fix this.  It pauses apps in the background to prevent them from chewing up CPU time (and battery life). I know, I know – you’ve probably seen some utilities that do this already. BUT – here’s the cool part – App Tamer stops and starts applications automatically. You don’t have to distract yourself by manually stopping and starting applications – it just magically works.

Have a look at the App Tamer page for details.  It’s in the final stages of beta testing, and you’re welcome to download a copy of the latest beta and try it for yourself. Let us know what you think at