Tame Those Background Processes with App Tamer

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.

screenshot

App Tamer

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%.

screenshot

Application Manager

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.

screenshot

App Details Drawer

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.

Preferences

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.

screenshot

Preferences

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.


Summary

An excellent little utility that helps you identify and pause hidden processes to save on CPU, battery life and even heat. The app works like a charm, just be careful not to go crazy and pause anything important.

9
  • http://kolouker.info Kolouker

    As much as I like the idea behind the program, I could not use it for longer than 15 minutes without a kernel panic.

  • flakshack

    My biggest frustration was that AppTamer would use 3-5% of my CPU, in order to save 3-5% of CPU.

    • http://www.stclairsoft.com/ Jon Gotow

      With the Details drawer closed, CPU usage should be more on the order of 0.5% to 1%. When the CPU drawer is open, it’ll use more because it’s constantly refreshing the stats of all the running applications.

      • flakshack

        Hmm…guess I’ll give it another shot. I’m definitely OCD when it comes to watching CPU time in Activity Monitor.

  • Lion King

    Last time I checked, Pauser still works on Lion.
    http://www.sdunster.com/project/pauser

  • andrew

    This is a PC idea. Bad for Mac. We’re not trying to be engineers. That’s why we’re on Macs now. k thx bye

    • Naatan

      Speak for yourself, not every Mac user is a mindless Jobs fanboy.

    • Odin Dutton

      A lot of Mac users are engineers.

  • LeMerlot

    For me App Tamer definitely is very useful. I’m working with a lot of app’s simultaneously open and with App Tamer they react “crisper” since nothing in the background uses CPU if you don’t want it. But it’s more for the Pros I guess.

    I’ve searched very long for such a helper and I’m very happy that I’ve found App Tamer, purchased it already. Some weeks ago I found a bug – it took only 2 hours (!!) and it was solved by the great team behind App Tamer. Highly recommended.

  • http://about.me/gianpaj GianPaJ

    works great. i was using another app which doesn’t work on Lion anymore but i ‘freezing’ the apps manually instead of this automatically.

    if you use a lot of hungry cpu applications like photoshop, a browser with a lot of tabs as well as any video editor, it’s great for this.

    specially if don’t have new or top-of-the-line Mac.

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    Supper Post Thanks .
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  • Paul C. Jones

    I regard this sort of tool as a sad leftover from the old PC (“Personal Computer”) days in which tools demanded more babying instead of PC helping us to be more productive and getting out of the way. We are now in post-PC era for all the good reasons. iPhone and iPad don’t even need this type of tool, and Mac should be like them more and more in terms of babying-free nature of those post-PC devices.

    I understand one of the reasons some developers come up with an app like this is bloatware such as Adobe CS. It is known for chewing CPU time during idle and nobody likes that. However, the right solution is to keep developing innovative apps that changes the way we currently work so we won’t even need to use bloatware like that in the first place. It’s sad to see talented developers are wasted on developing trivial apps like this.

    Besides, system “enhancement” add-on like this one is bound to have issues in a long run, and the best thing you can do is to avoid it at all cost. I have nothing against the developer of this app. In fact he seems to be on top of all the support complaints and addressing them quite well. However, I still can’t help wondering what the point of becoming his pseudo-beta-tester is when I just need things to work without a fuss? I say this because I myself have been guilty of loading up my system with this sort of add-ons. The novelty is there at first and all seems well in the beginning, then some annoyances take place and I eventually end up spending a significant amount of time emailing back and forth with a few Mac developers to troubleshoot. What you end up is a bunch of workarounds to make it work, time wasted writing emails back and forth, and frustration. It doesn’t matter it works “most of the time,” all the potential time saving and enhancement effect is down the drain at the point you run into system slowdown/glitch and need tech support.

    I’ve been running my system free of this type of tools for over a year now. I run my Mac like I run iPhone. All stand-alone apps, and NO system add-on and enhancement. Having been doing that for quite a while now, my experience has been that any potential loss of efficiency without these tools are more than compensated by having a rock solid system. I still use the same set of apps and I no longer have any issues with any of them whatsoever.

    The more you pimp up the system, the more trouble. That’s the fact.

    • Christopher Anderton

      I don’t use this app. But it’s not “system pimping”. It just a GUI for already built in functions in the system. And that’s the fact.

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    Woow ! works great my comp Cpu 5 and 9 %
    Thanks )

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    I want to see in a nearby theater. You can also find movie times via the IMDb and the iTunes Movie Trailers app..

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