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I'd like to be able to view my cpu and memory usage in real time. Not as a desktop widget or window application, but as a widget in the menu bar. Is this possible?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

iStat Menus has the functionality you are asking for. While iStat Menus 3 is available for $16, the older version 2 was released for free and can still be found as a download on third-party sites.

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+1 I really like this one. can customize how much is shown and it seems to perform very well. I may actually buy it. – spong Sep 8 '10 at 11:27
I also like it and I still use the old free version. What I don't like is that it invites you to upgrade without informing you that it costs money afterwards. – robcast Sep 9 '10 at 10:16
Does this work with the new memory management in mavericks? – AlikElzin-kilaka Feb 23 '14 at 16:56
Sorry, I switched to the paid version of iStat Menus 4 some time ago. This one works fine on Mavericks. I can't comment whether the old versions 2.x or 3.x still work. – Raim Feb 24 '14 at 16:07

I use MenuMeters for this functionality, and have a hard time living without it. How do other people know when their web browser is finally done downloading a page, or YouTube stalled out, or iPhoto still working, or ...?

MenuMeters is freeware, but well worth the donation.

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I wasn't able to get this to work. After unzipping, running installer, and logging out/in, it doesn't appear on the menubar. – spong Sep 8 '10 at 11:28
@sunpech: Did you enable them from the Menu Meters Preference Pane? By default they don't enable until you say you want them. – Chealion Sep 8 '10 at 16:06
What Chealion said: Did you go to the MenuMeters pref pane (at the bottom, in the "Other" category in System Preferences) to turn on the meters you'd like? – khedron Sep 10 '10 at 6:36
I love MenuMeters. I'd vote it up, but I'm out of votes for today. :-( – daviesgeek Oct 19 '11 at 19:01
Update - I was previously on 1.7. Upgraded to 1.8.1 to go with Yosemite and numbers are much closer now. FYI, developer says he will not update for El Capitan due to Apple policies; we'll see if MenuMeters keeps working then. – khedron Aug 27 '15 at 3:13

I prefer SystemPal. iStat itself consumes too much CPU and RAM. SystemPal is quick, tiny, configurable, neat, and powerful. It's available on Mac App Store.

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Or you can try some geeklets from the internet (or make one yourself) on Geektool. I find it more customizable than menu bar apps, and prettier when I get to use the fonts and sizes I like.

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I did that! I had a nice geeklet on my desktop. And then I upgraded to Mountain Lion, and the geektool is failing for mysterious reasons, and I have to debug it. :-/ – khedron Nov 8 '12 at 19:38

There is also nice commercial app called CheckMyMac can be downloaded from

Disclaimer I am the developer of this app.

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