It's been a little while since we've heard from St. Clair Software, makers of the well-known system utility, Default Folder X (which we've covered before). You may recall that we caught up with St. Clair Software developer Jon Gotow at WWDC '09. Well, he's got something new to announce today: App Tamer, a system utility for keeping CPU-intensive applications under control.
App Tamer is similar to some other utilities, in that it allows you to "freeze" selected applications so that they use up zero CPU time, leaving more processing power for other applications. What makes App Tamer special is AutoStop, which pauses and unpauses frozen applications when you switch away from or back to them. It also has options for temporarily unfreezing applications at a configurable interval, allowing apps to complete background activities even while frozen. It's quite flexible, but takes very little user knowledge or time to get it up and running.
It's great for apps that run wild, like Safari with a Flash movie paused in the background, or TweetDeck running high and then crashing. As a matter of fact, when I was beta testing App Tamer this month, it kept TweetDeck running non-stop for a week, which I've never been able to do before.
App Tamer is smart, too. It can check to see if a frozen web browser is currently downloading and wait for the download to finish before freezing it. A menubar item shows you which apps are running, which apps are frozen, and how much CPU each is using. A main control window gives you an overview of your system processes, including background tasks, and allows you to select apps to control or enable/disable AutoStop entirely. There's even a "Gaming Mode," which lets you freeze all processes except the current, foreground application in order to dedicate full processing power to that app.
App Tamer is priced at $14.95US and a fully functional, time-limited trial is available for download. Take a look at the main page and the App Tamer FAQ for answers to a few common questions. If you wish your system would run a little faster without compromising how many or which apps you can have open at once, give it a try.