I’m a bit intrigued by the new detailed activity monitors and progress indicators in Windows 8 (copying files, the task monitor, network activity, etc.) It got me thinking: surely there must be some better alternatives to the built-in Activity Monitor.app?

“Better” as in more detailed and nicer graphs. Specifically, it would be interested and see percentage disk I/O (out of disk capacity), memory usage, and CPU usage in the same nice way as Windows 8 presents it.

The Building windows blog has an article detailing the new Task Manager in Windows 8.

I just think that OS X’s task manager — which I have always found superior — just doesn’t cut it anymore compared to what is coming in Windows 8.

  • What are you looking for as "better"? Commented May 15, 2012 at 19:34
  • Unless you're trouble-shooting a problem, spending your time overseeing the operating system is more inefficient and unproductive than anything you might observe.
    – benwiggy
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 8:28

7 Answers 7


iStat Menus and its free Dashboard widget version iStat Pro can show you a good broad overview of your Mac's systems, but I'm afraid I don't know of any monitoring utilities that show individual application processes (ie Finder activity copying files) other than shell tools like lsof or top.

edit I had forgotten about good old fseventer - last updated in 2010 but still working on 10.6.8.

  • I also use iStat, with most of the labelling off, and at a low polling rate. It's not as specific as the above mentioned I guess, but its also very unobtrusive.
    – gmoney
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 19:25
  • 1
    MiStat from the same developer was more like what I was looking for.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 21:11
  • 1
    Be aware that these monitoring apps can be brutal on your battery life! Be sure to keep the polling rate low (5 sec or so) if you are constantly running something like iStat. Commented May 17, 2012 at 19:31
  • MiStat is actually a less powerful version of iStat menus. iStat had to be nerfed in order to get it into the App Store, so they made MiStat.
    – iynque
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 15:00
  • 1
    Not as good as Process Explorer, but still a pretty nice app. Good suggestion. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 1:17

Strictly for monitoring RAM use, FreeMemory works well. It sits in the menu bar.


I've been using MenuMeters for many revisions of OSX, it is similar to iStat Menus. I use it to keep an eye at real time performance like network and CPU.


atMonitor presents itself as “the most advanced monitoring tool for Mac OS X that displays system activity in real-time”, and is intended as an Activity Monitor replacement.

  • 1
    atMonitor is definitely NOT the most "advanced" anything. It's not much better than Activity Monitor and it has some annoying bugs (nothing that effects functionality though). I use it and I love it for what it does offer beyond the built-in Activity Monitor. I recommend it. ...but calling it "the most advanced" is silly ;)
    – iynque
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 15:04
  • @iynque I agree that it may be an exaggeration, but it's their definition. I'll update my answer to make that clearer.
    – Agos
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 19:59
  • also download link does not work
    – mjs
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 5:28

The htop tool is a pretty clean command-line option. It can be installed using homebrew like this: brew install htop and when that's installed you can run it by simply typing htop in your terminal.

Here's a link to their official docs: https://htop.dev/

  • While I agree that htop is a good tool, I doubt it satisfies the „“Better” as in more detailed and nicer graphs. Specifically, it would be interested and see percentage disk I/O (out of disk capacity), memory usage, and CPU“ requirements listed in the question.
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 29 at 8:56
  • Let me see if I can find a question asking for what htop does best: character based display instead of graphical charting. This question seems to be about how to get better graph visualizations of the data set, no?
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 29 at 10:43
  • Thanks for the edit @bmike.
    – Drupal guy
    Commented Apr 29 at 17:12
  • I know the question was asking for a better way with better graphs and so on, but I thought I'd share this one since this thread shows up on Google when searching for alternatives to Activity Monitor. Though it might not help the OP (who probably got their problem solved 12 years ago), it might help someone else in the future.
    – Drupal guy
    Commented Apr 29 at 17:14
  • As long as it’s clear what it looks like - anyone can have preference on graphics. And linking to the main hyop thread is a bonus
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 29 at 17:19

I'd also like to recommend MenuMeters. I always install it first-thing on any Mac i need to do serious stuff on for longer than 15 min.

But another monitor i sometimes use when i need more info/details is XRG.

Nice and clean, feature-rich and completely customizable. And as a bonus it is alot less CPU-hogging than Activity Monitor, which can use over 25% of CPU, even on the fastest machines…


You can use Stater. It's only a dock icon with CPU, memory, drive space usage. Processes list and numerical data lives in dock menu. The application feature is "no redundant information, but everything you need for everyday use".

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