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If you wanted to track down performance issues on a machine running Mac OS X and find out what was causing slowdowns, which command-line or graphical tools would you use, and how would you use them?

I'm interested in advice on the best tools, and explanations of how to use them - when a machine slows down or freezes up, I'd like to be able to dig down and understand what's going on, memory / disk / CPU-wise.


I would begin with top (to see the process list at work). Take into account cpu usage / per process and memory usage. Followed by fs_usage (lets you monitor file system activity).

If your finding something using the disk often or using too much cpu your heading in the right direction. Also try vmstat 3; good for overall comparison of cpu, memory, disk (vmstat may be renamed vm_stat in newer versions of OSX).

Turn off every service you done need, is another good starting point. I would suggest you read man pages/howto's on these tools (there is too much to explain).

There is also the OSX activity monitor in applications/utilities which is much easier to read, but not so detailed as the utilities mentioned above.

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