If you’re a new Mac OS user coming right from windows, you must have heard of the Windows task manager before. It is a fairly useful tool which can be used to check the view, manage and end tasks and activity processes that are going on in the Mac OS. However in the Mac OS, the task manager comes with a different name, in the Mac OS, it is called the Activity monitor. If you’re unfamiliar with the Activity monitor or the task management process of Mac in general, don’t worry, although this is a very powerful application with a lot of utility value, it is still very simple to use.
We’d purchased a new Mac at our workplace and one of my colleagues had come from using Windows systems all his life and had never used a Mac before. He had installed a few apps on the Mac for reviewing it and unfortunately, one of the installed apps started misbehaving and started crashing which resulted in the system going haywire. My colleague was startled and started looking for the task manager but couldn’t find one and instantly approached me for help as I’d been a Mac user for long.
It wasn’t difficult to just fire up the Activity Monitor and find the app which is using too much of the system resources and just terminate the process. This resulted in an instant boost in the performance of the Mac, Although extremely simple, most people don’t even know about the existence of the Activity Monitor let alone how to use it. So here is a procedural guide on the launching and using the Activity Monitor.
Launching the Activity monitor
If you’re coming from Windows, you should be well acquainted with the three finger salute(Ctrl+Alt+Del) which is used to launch the Windows Task Manager, however, in Mac OS X, it’s a bit different, you can launch the app from within its directory, through the LaunchPad, or just drag it into the Dock for future quick access. You can alternatively just use the Spotlight for quick keyboard access.
Activity Monitor is located in your /Applications/Utilities/ folder and the best way to access it is probably via the Spotlight as a keyboard shortcut.
Start off by hitting the Command+Spacebar combination to bring up the Spotlight search field and key in “Activity Monitor”. Then hit the Return key when “Activity Monitor” shows up in the spotlight results. Selecting it should open up the Activity Monitor where you can view, manage and modify the tasks.
In the activity monitor, you can sort the list based on the CPU usage, Memory usage, name or the process ID. There is also a search box to search for a specific process if you know the process name. This is a very useful and powerful tool as it does not just show applications being run in the current user, it also displays system-level tasks, kernel tasks, daemons, processes being run even on another user of the operating system. For that matter, if there is any process running on the Mac, it will show up here and can be modified or suspended right from the activity monitor.
Killing a process from the Activity Monitor
From the activity monitor just click on the application or the process that you wish to terminate and click on the large red quit process button in the left corner of the app windows. This should bring up a process confirming if you really want to terminate the process or cancel the termination, select the quit option to terminate the process. If the app has become unresponsive, you can instead use the “Force Quit” option to terminate the process immediately and the app seizes to run.
Viewing System Stats in the Activity Monitor
At the bottom of the Activity monitor, you should get live system stats updated in real-time. You also get system information about your Mac. There will be several tabs for CPU, Memory, Disk activity and Disk Usage, click on any one of them to view more detailed information about the same.