I’m a card carrying Mac tinkerholic. I tinker, I dink, I tweak, I check. One of the utilities that I use to tinker on my Mac, one of many, is OnyX. It’s free.
Onyx Does What?
Basically, OnyX is one of a dozen or so utilities for Mac OS X that give you hidden access to secret features on your Mac. From the developer:
Use Onx to run miscellaneous tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Exposé, Safari, Login window and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.
In other words, there’s a lot of very cool things you can do on a Mac that Apple doesn’t tell you about. Onyx is a utility that gives you access to some of those secret, hidden features.
I love applications and utilities that give you a big list of features and then a couple of caveats. The first warning is ‘Backup Your Data’. That’s always good advice.
OnyX cannot destroy the System. If your computer freezes during the verification of the volume, it is a completely normal behavior! Once OnyX is finished checking, control will be returned to you.
Getting started is easy. OnyX comes with a Package installer. Double click, follow the instructions, and OnyX installs itself (click on an image for a close up view).
Once opened, OnyX is rather self explanatory and arcane at the same time. The OnyX Toolbar is where you start. Verify your Mac’s hard drives, perform maintenance, clean caches, and more.
Don’t let the simplicity of the basic Toolbar fool you. There’s lots more where that came from. Lots.
Bewildering Feature Array
It’s remarkable that OS X has so many hidden features. Even for Mac users who have been around awhile, there’s always something new to learn.
One of the first things to learn about OS X is to not move your files and applications all over the place. Keep them where they belong. From the OnyX developer:
OnyX doesn’t remove your personal data. MacOS X is a Unix based operating system, that has a well defined structure. Your data must be stored in your HOME directory, in the existing Folders, e.g. ‘Documents’, ‘Pictures’, ‘Music’, etc…, or in additional Folders that you have previously created in your HOME directory.
In other words, tread carefully. That said, a quick walk through of OnyX brings you numerous ways to customize your Mac and make it perform better. Plenty. More than plenty.
The Parameters section alone will keep you busy for hours. General settings can be modified, as can The Dock, Safari, even Expose and Dashboard.
Clean Me Up, Scotty
Most of us worry about our Mac’s maintenance schedules, especially if we close down our Macs at the end of the day. Apple schedules maintenance when we’re asleep. That works OK if the Mac is running.
Otherwise, let OnyX do it. For example, select Cleaning from the Toolbar. Select one of the tab options.
Prepare to be bewildered.
Mac utilities are always an adventure and OnyX is no exception. There is much to learn about keeping your Mac healthy, wealthy, and wise.
For example, OS X comes with a wealth of Manuals and hidden commands. You don’t need to know them all, but they’re a fun read, and provide another view into using a Mac.