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In Windows, you can get an overview of your computers resources and activities by going into the Task Manager. It also shows which task is consuming the most CPU cycles and RAM.

Is there a similar tool built into OS X? I know top comes with OS X, but I find it all a bit too confusing. What are my available options? Do I need to resort to a 3rd party app?

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What you're looking for is known as Activity Monitor. You should find it in /Applications/Utilities

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    This is why SE works so well. This was the first hit on Google, and it's exactly what I needed.
    – eckza
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 13:55
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If you want the same information as a Dashboard widget or in the menu bar, check out iStat Pro/Nano and iStat Menus. You can get more info at the author's website, http://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/

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    But be aware that some of these resource monitoring widgets can consume a large amount of system resources. Commented Jul 22, 2009 at 3:42
  • Upvoted for truth.
    – eckza
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 13:54

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