At any given time, there’s a lot going on in your computer’s brain. You may be focusing on writing an important email or watching a video, but that doesn’t mean your CPU is likewise focusing its attention. It’s still assigning valuable resources to that open web page you have in the background and that Twitter client chirping away on your desktop.
App Tamer is an incredibly handy little app that finds all these processes and helps you pause those that aren’t important until you need them again. This helps cut down on CPU time, battery usage and even heat! Follow along as we take a closer look.
Meet App Tamer
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect the first time I fired up App Tamer. I’m fairly cautious about apps that seem like they mess with my system and loathe anything that requires lots of setup. An app in this category has potential to go wrong in both of these areas.
As soon as I fired it up though, App Tamer just went to work finding processes that I wasn’t using and pausing them. I didn’t do a single thing! A quick look at the menu bar utility revealed the basic system for how the app works. Here I could see my active processes along with how much CPU they were using in addition to the processes the app saw fit to pause.
As you can see from the screenshot, I wasn’t really saving much out of the gate. This was a combination of the fact that the app had only just started and that I hadn’t really dug around to see where I could give it a boost. It’s obvious though right away that Twitter is being somewhat of a beast, sitting at the top of my CPU sucking processes.
To solve this problem, I jumped into the “Application Manager”, a window where you can examine your processes further.
The Application Manager
The Application Manager shows you a list of your currently stopped applications and a graph depicting your estimated CPU savings. As you can see, after tossing in Twitter (we’ll see how to do that later), I was up to saving 35%.
After using the app for a few hours, I found that my typical results were even better, hovering just under 60%! When you’re running on an aging MacBook like I was at the time, that’s a pretty decent chunk of recovered CPU.
Notice the “Gaming Mode” setting, which stops everything but the currently active window.
The Details Drawer
Hitting the “Details” button momentarily stops some of its monitoring (I’m not sure why) and slides out a drawer showing a filterable list of all the relevant processes on your machine.
From here you can organize the processes by the amount of CPU they eat and in doing so easily find good candidates for taming. When you click on an app, the preview on the right updates to give you more relevant information and allow you to set the app’s priority. If you locate an app that you don’t mind pausing when it’s not in the foreground, check the “AutoStop” box to have App Tamer tell that app to chill out.
If there’s anything you don’t like about the way that the app works, check out the Preferences section and you’ll likely find a fix. For instance, I hated the little message that kept reminding me to close the Details Drawer, so I turned it off. I also like that you can tell the app to hide or dim apps that are paused and customize the length of time before a pause.
Thoughts About Use
I’m a total nut when it comes to managing my processes. I tend to have a million things going on at once and never look away from my iStat menu bar app for more than a few minutes so I can keep track of how my Mac is handling the tasks that I’m throwing at it.
Because of this, App Tamer really thrilled me as soon as I started using it. I was able to see clear, significant performance benefits from using the app, and that’s something that I highly value in a utility like this.
With all that being said, there is a lot to keep in mind with an app like this. Your computer isn’t doing a ton of stuff just to annoy you, active processes are often either vital or something that you’ve personally chosen to spend resources on. Many of these processes simply aren’t ideal for pausing.
For instance, as a manager, I’m in constant communication with colleagues so pausing my email client would definitely be something that would negatively affect the way I work because it would simply stop receiving email until I switched to my email app. You might have noticed that I did in fact stop my Twitter app, this obviously kills the benefits of how the app downloads tweets live as they happen. I no longer received Growl notifications when someone replied to me or sent me a private message. To be honest, in the case of Twitter, this isn’t exactly a bad thing as it can definitely be a distraction!
Also, keep in mind that paused apps take about a second to pop back to life, which sounds small but is definitely a noticeable delay when compared to the typically smooth transition from on app to another. In some circumstances I even encountered a few app crashes upon attempted wakings. These were quite rare though and not repeatable.
Conclusion: Should You Buy It?
I really enjoy App Tamer and am thrilled to find an app that seems to be so incredibly effective at resource allotment with so little effort. I definitely plan on using this app regularly and strongly encourage you to take a look.
Keep in mind, an inexperienced user looking for a quick way to make their Mac go faster has plenty of room to screw things up with this app. To me, it seems better suited to be a utility for those users at least proficient enough to open Activity Monitor and understand what’s going on.
So should you buy it? First, stop by the site and try out the 30 day trial. Open up the app and take a look at what’s eating your CPU up the most and whether or not it’s something that you mind being turned off when you’re not looking at it. If the answer is “yes”, then App Tamer is fifteen bucks well spent.