Two alternatives to MenuMeters


MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for Mac OS X. It has been around since Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and it’s always been my preferred software in its category. Every time a major Mac OS X release came out, one of the first things I used to do after upgrading was checking whether MenuMeters would work. I like it for its unobtrusiveness, level of customisation and general lightness. I hate cluttering the menubar with icons, so it’s important that a monitoring tool let me hide everything I don’t need to see. In my case, I’ve always been interested in one thing — checking network activity, and MenuMeters can simply show the network throughput as bytes per second (or even just arrows, if you really want the simplest, most minimalistic option). I still use MenuMeters on all my PowerPC Macs.

But after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.11, I discovered that MenuMeters is not compatible with the latest version of the operating system. At the time of writing, developer Alex Harper has put a warning on the MenuMeters website that reads as follows:

Due to new Apple-enforced code signature restrictions, MenuMeters is not compatible with the OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” public beta. Although the restriction is similar, this is not directly related to 10.11’s “System Integrity Protection” (SIP, aka “rootless”) feature and disabling SIP has no effect on MenuMeters.

Unless Apple makes the signature restriction optional, it is not clear that MenuMeters in its present form can ever be made compatible with OS X 10.11.

In the meantime I can only suggest that you do not install 10.11 if you wish to use MenuMeters.

So I started looking for alternatives, and after asking for advice on, I received two great suggestions. One for a software I didn’t know, the other for a software I should have remembered (since I used to have it installed as a Dashboard widget). Neither alternatives are free, but they’re not very expensive either, and both are worth your consideration.

The first alternative that was suggested — thanks Peter! — is Colossus by Sparkfield, available on the Mac App Store for $3.99. System requirements are Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later. An interesting feature is a built-in memory cleaner. I haven’t tried this app myself, but Peter is another long-time, expert Mac user, and he has purchased it. I trust his judgment on this.

The second alternative — as Shawn kindly reminded me — is iStat Menus 5 by Bjango. A single licence is $18, and if you’re upgrading from version 3 or 4, you’ll only pay $9.99. System requirements for version 5 are Mac OS X 10.8 or later, and it’s guaranteed to be compatible with OS X 10.11. It costs more than Colossus, but it also has more features and a higher level of customisation.

I ended up choosing iStat Menus mostly because I’m more familiar with Bjango’s products, but this shouldn’t influence your choice at all. Everyone has different needs and preferences, and I’m sure there are other similar monitoring tools out there that cost less or are even free. I think Colossus and iStat Menus are two well-made applications that are worth considering before looking for other cheaper alternatives.

Update — Meanwhile, another alternative that has been suggested to me is Monity ($4.99) by Lukasz Kulis.

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