Running a Mac is meant to be a problem-free, simple, process that requires little input from the user. As always however, the reality and the marketing don’t always meet. Keeping the Mac operating system in tip-top condition can be a pain, especially for new users who might not know where to look. MacTuneUp is a software utility that’s hoping to bridge the gap and make Mac OS X optimisation that little bit simpler.
The application is spit into five housekeeping sections and there’s also access to other useful resources like Unix commands and system information such as error codes and keyboard shortcuts.
The Settings tab really doesn’t bring anything to your Mac that isn’t already there in various system preference panes and other preference options. However, it does put them all in one place and makes the job of managing your Mac slightly easier. Some of settings, like enabling the debug menu in Safari, are for the more experienced user so in some ways redundant. If you don’t know how to get to the debug menu you’re hardly likely to really need it. The Settings tab does have its uses though. If, say, you’re setting up a small group of Macs for the family or office then it would make the process keeping the machines identical easier.
Things begin to get a bit more involved under the maintenance tab. Mac OS X runs a number of repair tasks automatically, however MacTuneUp allows you to force the scripts to run when you choose. The false hope that is Repair Permissions can also be run as can System Optimisation. In addition MacTuneUp can cleanse your system of log archives and browser caches along with a selection of Mac application caches.
You can also do a mass reset of file types so any documents that have decided to open in Word instead of Photoshop, for whatever reason, will be reset to the default application. The force empty trash option is handy but again it’s not wholly essential. There’s a simple network optimisation tool, which speeds up all Internet traffic by managing buffer sizes. In addition there are tools for managing network sharing and a backup tool with plenty of scope for managing your Mac disaster recovery process. MacTuneUp also has a Firewall to replace or enhance the Apple one.
The whole application is managed from a single interface and this does make it simple to get to all the different options available. It’ll not take the novice user much time to learn how to navigate through and select some of the options. However, this ease of use also poses potential problems, as many of the things you can do need further explanation. The MacTuneUp interface does remind you of this as you edit options and we strongly recommend reading about each setting before putting them in to practice, especially if you’re unsure of the benefits.
We saw modest speed gains after running the suite of tuning options but this application isn’t really claiming to speed your Mac up vastly - just keep it in order. If anything MacTuneUp straddles the gap between experienced Mac user and total newbie well. There’s enough to keep your Mac running smoothly and give you access to features you might normally have to open the Terminal to get to.
We’d recommend reading up more on the background activities before ploughing in and changing things though. The software could well benefit from a clearly defined catch all function, something that runs all the tuning processes at once rather than leaving you to make the choices, but this is a minor complaint.
For £25 this is a handy utility and it’s worth the cash for the backup and firewall alone really. If your Mac is a bit sluggish and you’d like to do a bit of housekeeping then MacTuneUp will help you get to the guts of Mac OS X without having to learn how to use the Terminal app. If you want to learn a bit more about the Unix underpinnings of OSX MacTuneUp offers a good first step too.
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