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iStat Menus 5 provides more system information in a prettier package

Michael Simon | Oct. 29, 2014
No matter how many features OS X borrows from iOS, one big difference Mac and iOS users is that we want to know what's going on under the hood of our computers. Where you might be content to quit a wonky app or restart an iPad, on your Mac you want to investigate the problem up close and personal, even tracking page outs and diving into crash logs.

iStat's Time menu could easily be sold as a standalone utility. Digital horologists will certainly get their $16 worth: The dropdown menu goes far beyond hours and minutes, providing everything you could ever need to know about your day — from the current azimuth angle of the sun, to when it will set, and which phase of moon will appear in the sky. The maps and charts are gorgeous to look at, and with data for more than 120,000 cities, it'll likely be just a matter of time before it replaces your default OS X version.

The other icons, however, are an acquired taste. I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of menu bar doodads, but I do keep a few up there to help with my workflow. With iStat, each menu has its own set of live icons that give real-time feedback as you work. Bjango did a fine job with updating them to match the app's new look, but the concept is still a bit too distracting for my tastes. Thankfully these are all optional; iStat's excellent customization panels let you choose exactly what you want to see, and I have my dropdown menus boiled down to a single clean icon.

Bottom line

Whether or not you want to busy up your menu bar with iStat's numerous icons, there's no debating its usefulness. Its bevy of monitoring and diagnostic menus will keep you apprised of every little thing going on with your Mac — and, perhaps, cause you to visit your Utilities folder less frequently.


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