I’ve been meaning to write about these two gems for some time now, but as with all the software I want to review, they’ve taken a back seat to the hot news of the week. But now I’ve got the time and the space, and I’ve finally figured out why I like the combination of DiskStatus and AppSizer so much. More on that later.
DiskStatus 1.2 — DiskStatus is an interesting little freeware application that takes a mere 60K of RAM, but you do have to keep it running all the time for it to be of any use. As its name implies, DiskStatus was originally created to tell you more about the status of your disks, primarily free space. Since then, its author, Eric Bloodworth of Morpheus Systems, has added a ton of customization features that make it even more useful. Along with the original ability to track and display how much disk space is free or used, you can also display how much memory is free, the largest chunk of available memory, how many files are open, what network volumes are mounted, and even the date and time, should you so choose. You can control the font, size, color, and date and time formats, and you can even define "low space" and set a color so that when a disk drops below a certain amount of free space, its entry suddenly changes color. A useful warning from a useful program.
AppSizer 2.1 — AppSizer is a different beast. Michael Peirce, author of Claris’s Public Folder, wrote this shareware Control Panel, which has one simple, but incredibly useful feature. If you hold down either the Control key or the Command key (your choice) as you launch a program, AppSizer will let you adjust the memory partition that program uses. You don’t have to mess around with finding the original program and changing the partition in the Get Info… box. This can be a hassle, especially if you often use aliases to launch programs. AppSizer tells you how much memory is available for use, the minimum and suggested memory partitions for that program, and the current setting. You can then change that memory setting to anything you want, although AppSizer will warn you if you try to use more memory than is available or set the partition smaller than the minimum.
If you want, you can save your new memory setting, but I find that I seldom want to do that – I prefer to keep my programs running on a smaller amount of RAM in general and up it significantly when I need the room to work. Nisus, being RAM based, especially benefits from AppSizer, because you can start Nisus with 700K most of the time but you might need 3 MB if you need to edit an occasional large file. The side effect of this ability to change the memory partition on the fly without saving it to disk is that you can also change the memory partitions for programs that live on CD-ROMs or other read-only volumes. There’s no way to modify the Get Info… settings on read-only volume otherwise. My only complaint is that there isn’t a Cancel button if you realize that there simply isn’t as much memory as you had thought. For example, if I have 20K in my largest unused block of memory I can’t launch Nisus no matter what. I have to Cancel out of AppSizer and free up some memory. Luckily, you can escape the dialog box by hitting command-period.
The combination — Both DiskStatus and AppSizer work fine on their own, and AppSizer is well worth the $19.95 shareware fee. However, I find it even more useful when I set DiskStatus to display the largest free block of RAM. This way I know I know what I can do with AppSizer before I try to launch a program. Even though I have 8 MB of RAM, I like to keep several programs running all the time, and memory often gets fragmented so that I don’t have a large chunk available. But with DiskStatus showing what that largest available chunk is, I can usually tell which program is fragmenting the memory by looking at Applicon, a slick application switcher from Rick Holzgrafe that shows a tile for each open application, usually in the same order as the programs were launched. A click and a Quit later, and I’ve got a large chunk of memory which I can then give to another program thanks to AppSizer.
In some ways, I’m excited over nothing here. These utilities do nothing for you that you couldn’t do on your own by checking the About This Macintosh… dialog and using the Get Info… and the MultiFinder application menu. Of course, once you get into that argument, you could say that it’s equally possible for me to write this on an Apple IIe running AppleWorks, but you don’t see me doing that either. For those of you who like making our lives easier with the aid of clever utilities, I encourage you check out DiskStatus and AppSizer, and Applicon is worth a serious look as well, although I haven’t discussed it much here. Both DiskStatus and AppSizer should be readily available from your favorite shareware and freeware sites.