Activity Monitor

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Activity Monitor's Icon
Activity Monitor's Icon

Activity Monitor (named Process Viewer prior to Panther) is an application included with Mac OS X that can be used to view running processes and other system information. It is located at /Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor. Much of what it does can be easily done in Terminal, however it provides a graphical interface which most find easier to use.


Activity Monitor can be used for the following tasks related to running processes:

  • Viewing a list of all running processes, including background processes
  • Viewing which processes are using a large amount of processing power or memory
  • Killing (quitting or force quitting) running processes (especially useful for background applications)
  • Viewing information about a particular process

It can also be used to find the following system information:

  • CPU usage statistics and graphs
  • Memory usage statistics
  • Disk activity and usage information
  • Network activity


There are several ways to configure Activity Monitor to show easily viewable information about system information mentioned above.

  • It can be configured to show a floating CPU meter in the Window > Show Floating CPU Window submenu
  • Its Dock icon can be configured to show various meters in the View > Dock Icon submenu

See Also