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Using Apple System Profiler in Mac OS X

Need hard information about your hardware? You may need to determine precisely what hardware is installed in your Mac for the following reasons:

  • If you're working with a technical support person to solve a problem: This person will usually request information about your system, such as what processor you're running and how much memory you have.
  • If you're evaluating an application before you buy it: You'll want
    to check its minimum system requirements against the hardware on your Mac.
  • If you're considering an upgrade to your Mac: You'll likely need to determine how much memory you have, what type it is, and which memory slots are filled. (The same goes for your hard drive and your video card, for those Macs with video card slots.)

Apple provides Mac OS X with an all-in-one hardware and software display tool, aptly named Apple System Profiler, which you can find in the Utilities folder within your Applications folder. You can also reach the Profiler through the Apple menu. Just click About This Mac and then click the More Info button.) As you can see from Figure 1, there's a lot to digest from the System Profiler window.

Figure 1: You can display an overview of your Mac via System Profiler.

Like the folders in a Finder window in list view mode, you can expand or collapse each major heading that appears in a Profiler screen. Just click the triangle that appears to the left of each Contents heading to expand or collapse that heading.

The System Profiler major headings include

  • Hardware: This heading tells you volumes about your hard drives, as well as specifics concerning your CD and DVD drives, modem, AirPort and Bluetooth hardware, graphics hardware, AC power settings, and any FireWire and USB devices connected to your system. Figure 2 illustrates the information from a USB screen, with many of the devices expanded so that you can see them. (The text you see at the bottom half of the window is the detailed information on the item that's selected.)
  • Network: This heading shows a listing of your network configuration, active network connections, and other assorted network paraphernalia. You'll probably need this screen only when asked by a technical support person for the network protocols that you're using, but it's handy nonetheless. (You can find details on your network connection here that you can't find anywhere else in Tiger.)

Figure 2: See the information about the ports and connections on your Mac.
  • Software: Okay, this heading shows something useful to the average human being! This screen lists all the applications, fonts, and preferences recognized on your start-up volume, along with their version numbers. If you're wondering whether you need to update an application with a patch file (to fix bugs in the software) or update a file from the developer, you can look here to check the current version number for the application. You also get a rather boring list of the extensions (or drivers) used by Mac OS X applications. Logs are usually valuable only to tech support personnel; they document recent lockups, application crashes, and even system crashes.
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