Stay and StatsBar Worthy Additions to a Mac's Utility Belt
May 21, 2013 5:00 AM PT
Designers of operating systems can't think of everything that should be in their programs. Utilities are a testament to that.
Utilities are software programs that do things that should have been included in an operating system, but weren't. They can help you keep your system performing at top speed, solve irritating problems or just keep valuable information at your fingertips.
For example, you might want to have the windows on your desktop placed just so when you're working with a set of programs or across monitors. Wouldn't it be nice, you think, if there were a way to call up those window configurations and not create them from scratch every time you use the programs?
Or maybe you'd just like keep tabs on what's happening inside your Mac -- memory and disk usage, network vitals and power consumption.
Rest easy. To turn a phrase, there's a utility for that.
Return to Status Quo
Stay is available for US$15.
Working with multiple windows can get messy. You might have a certain configuration you like, but then you start tinkering with sizes and locations to access information or juxtapose it beside another window.
Soon your perfect configuration is all bent out of shape, and you have to spend time resizing and relocating your windows.
Stay is designed to address that problem. For example, if I have Evernote and Chrome open on my desktop, I can save the windows by clicking Stay on the Apple toolbar and choosing "store Windows for all applications."
Now, while I'm creating a note in Evernote, I need some information from the Chrome window under it, but the information is obscured by the Evernote window.
I shrink the size of the Evernote window to see the info in the Chrome window. Now my Evernote window isn't an optimal size any more. I could just resize it by clicking its edge and pulling it out. It's a lot faster, though, to just click "Restore Windows" in Stay and watch everything return to the status quo.
That can be even more convenient if you're working with more that two windows open.
Stay will also work across monitors. Suppose you have a MacBook that you connect to an external monitor. You can store two sets of windows -- one for the laptop with monitor and one without.
Then you can have your windows where you want them, whether you're working with or without the monitor. Better yet, you can configure Stay to detect when you have a monitor connected to your laptop so it will automatically restore the windows configurations you want when you're coupled with the external display.
Stay sometimes fumbles and can't connect an open window to its stored counterpart. The program has a fail-safe for that -- you can link an open window to a saved window manually.
You choose "Link Active Window To..." from the Stay menu and images of stored windows will appear from which you can choose the correct one to link to.
StatsBar is available for $3.99 from the Mac App Store.
While Macs are designed so you don't have to think about humdrum performance issues, some of us would like to peek at those kinds of metrics from time to time. StatsBar provides that kind of information.
The program sits on the Apple Bar where its performance info can be displayed with a click.
It will show you your machine's CPU activity in real time. It tells you what percent of your system's processor is allocated to its user, the system and how much is idle. A real-time graph of your CPU usage is also displayed below the percentages.
In addition, the uptime for your system is shown. That can be a high number of days if you let your machine remain in sleep mode even when recharging.
The software also shows you your memory usage, which can sometimes be an eye-opener. It breaks memory usage into wired, active, inactive and free categories.
There's also a "clean memory" button, which lets you recover any memory left unclaimed in your system after closing down programs and such. Be warned, however, the process can slow your operations down while it is completing its task.
Disk usage is another metric that can surprise. It's displayed as a bar graph and a legend that tells you how much space of your disk total is free.
Network information such as "in" and "out" on KB per second is also updated dynamically. The net section also displays your current external and local IP address, as well as total data in and out.
The final section of StatsBar gives you power information. It shows the amount of power remaining as a percentage, as well as the health and age of the battery.
Both Stay and StatsBar will be useful utilities for some folks and not for others. If you're not fastidious about your window displays, there'll be no charm in Stay for you and if performance stats make you yawn, StatsBar won't be your cup of tea. For utility lovers, though, the programs will have a kind of "why didn't Apple think of that?" allure.