Track Your MacBook’s Performance with Activity Monitor
Activity Monitor is specifically designed to show you how hard your CPU, hard disk, network equipment, and memory sticks are working behind the scenes. To run Activity Monitor on your MacBook, open the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
To view each of the different usage types, click the tabs in the lower half of the window; The bottom changes to reflect the desired type. For example, if you click on System Memory, you will see the amount of unused memory; Click CPU or Network to view the real-time usage of your MacBook’s CPU and network connections.
You can also display a separate window with your CPU; Choose Window → CPU Usage or press Command + 2. There are three different types of CPUs (the central processing unit, commonly called the “brain” of your MacBook) available from Activity Monitor:
CPU Floating Window: This is the smallest width of the CPU usage; The higher the CPU usage, the higher the reading on the screen. You can arrange the floating window in landscape or portrait mode from the Window menu.
CPU Usage Window: This is the standard CPU monitoring window, which uses a blue screen that looks like a thermometer. The screen works like a floating window.
CPU History window: This scroll screen uses different colors to help indicate the percentage of CPU time your apps use (green) and the percentage Lion uses to keep things running (red). You can use the History window to view CPU usage over time.
CPU usage and history can also be viewed in the Dock.
You have multiple bars in the CPU usage screen because you are running one of Apple’s multi-core Intel processors in your MacBook. There is more than one engine under the hood
Whichever display type you choose, you can drag the window anywhere you want on the Mac OS X desktop. Use real-time feedback to determine how well the system’s CPU will perform when running applications or performing tasks in Mac OS X. If this remains The scale is at its peak for extended periods of time while using a range of applications, the processor(s) operating at full capacity.
You can even monitor CPU, network, hard disk or memory usage right from the Dock! Choose View → Dock Icon; Then choose the type of real-time graph you want to display in the Dock. (Feeling like a Lion power user yet?)
When you monitor CPU usage from the Dock, the green part of the bar indicates the amount of processor time used by the application program, and the red part of the bar indicates the CPU time given to Mac OS X (like how this works in the CPU History window central).
Note, however, that seeing CPU capacity at its maximum does not necessarily mean that you need a faster CPU or a new computer. For example, when running memory-predatory applications, such as Photoshop or Word, the Activity Monitor on the MacBook Pro often gets hooked up (to indicate maximum usage) for several seconds at a time.
Barely moving the rest of the time. Whether your computer is fast enough for you and the apps you’re running is more than just a self-indulgent call on your part.