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Put Your Power Where You Want It

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Tweak processor priorities and RAM usage where available

Mac OS X is a masterfully multithreaded system with the ability to run and manage hundreds of tasks simultaneously, including tasks that you've initiated (a Final Cut Pro render, a Photoshop filter, a spell-check in Word -- anything) as well as oodles of background daemons, enless Spotlight indexing, and other noise. It's your Mac, so you get to decide which apps get processor priority and when -- it's known as niceness in the Unix world. Make iMovie nicer as it chews on your epic film while you write your acceptance speech in Word, or lash Photoshop to morrings of your specifications if that's where you spend the day.

Process Wizard (free, La Chose : web agency and software maker ? agence web et développement de logiciels) provides handy sliders for you to addjust the niceness of any process running on your Mac -- or to kill a process outright, which can lead to mayhem, so proceed with caution. Process Wizard doesn't show you how much juice any specific task is sucking up, so launch Activity Monitor (/Applications/Utilities), click the CPU tab for a live readout of what processes are consuming how much of your processor(s), and use that information to adjust processor priority.

Allocating RAM isn't generally as easy, but many RAM-hogging apps, such as Photoshop, provide a preference setting that you can tweak to give it the lion's share of your RAM.

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