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I use "Activity Monitor" in a background window to keep an eye on the memory use of each programme and resource use.

I am frustrated that the network/CPU/disk activity graphs are tiny and can only be seen one-at-a-time.

Is there an alternative to Activity Monitor that will show me the same information in a more useful way?

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I've been using iStat Menus (worked better for me than MenuMeters)

But I've recently seen Processes which can monitor active network connections and open files... pretty neat. More searching also revealed atMonitor, but I've not read too much about that one.

For myself I'm pretty interested in the bundle currently available from Metakine which includes both Processes and Hands Off! which looked good. (I've previously used Little Snitch).

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    PS: As an aside, you can do a lot on the command-line... using commands like top vm-stat and (my favorite) lsof. – Marius Sep 10 '12 at 14:11
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    We have used both Little Snitch and Hands Off!, switched over to Hands Off! 30 April 2012 for the domain based blocking feature. Now 9 months, 317 Apps and 4920 rules later the HandsOffDaemon is consuming 641,9MB out of 4GB of physical memory and mDNSResponder is crashing 4 till 6 times a day on the plug in /Library/Handsoff/dns_preload.dylib. – Pro Backup Jan 22 '13 at 20:38
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On the command-line side, I find the MacOS version of top particularly unreadable, even more so if compared to the GNU version commonly found on Linux

I recommend having a look at htop.

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You have essentially a couple of different type of options:

  1. tools that embed themselves in the menubar e.g. iStat Menus, MenuMeters etc. These give you the best overview, at-a-glance in my humble opinion. Often clicking on a small icon gives you more detailed info.

  2. tools that are stand-alone or integrate themselves into the notification center. iStat Pro, Monity etc. I find these a bit frustrating to use since I need to actively look for the stats I am interested in, rather than just checking the menubar. But the advantage is that they have more real estate to show graphs, give stats etc

  3. command-line based utilities. These are essentially behind all other tools. If you are mostly working in a terminal then you cant really beat htop in my opinion. it's not installed by default as far as I know but should be easy enough to get via homebrew.

You can also run top, fstab and similar command-line tools from tools like GeekTool (mentioned before), or my current favorite, Ubersicht

They allow you to have custom widgets, for example integrated top instance running in the background. My problem here is that my desktop is overcrowded, both in real life and virtually on my computer :) So I figured I needed to do a swipe gesture to be able to see anything

I have tried several different solutions, but in the end I came back to iStat Menus, since no other solution gave me a good enough overview without any effort on my part.

My advice is to try out a couple of different solutions and settle with what works best for your use case.

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MenuMeters is probably the most popular alternative.

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If you're comfortable with the terminal, there's always 'top'.

Another approach might be to set up GeekTool.

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