Cocktail 6.7 review - Keep your Mac healthy with this selection of software tools

Cocktail 6.7 brings automated repair and maintenance to your Mac

As part of Pilot’s maintenance tasks, there is complete control over which caches to clear and when

Being productive with your Mac is all about spending the least possible time trying to sort out problems. Corrupted files, preferences, caches and spotlight indexes can occasionally cause serious slowdowns and only regular checking and maintenance may prevent trouble like this – but that hardly aids productivity!

Enter Cocktail, a mature app that has been around for almost 10 years. Its comprehensive feature set lets you clean and repair various aspects of your Mac and then set up scheduled maintenance. It also allows you to access and change a vast array of hidden system and application user interface features.

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Everything is accessed from a central, tabbed panel that looks like it is part of Mac OS X’s System Preferences. Tools for Disks, System, Files, Network and Interface are on offer along with the maintenance Pilot.

Installing Apple’s Archive pane gives you access to a number of previously invisible features

Disks lets you change settings for journaling and sleep as well as resetting individual and group permissions and access control lists. While not something you would want to do unless there is a very good reason, coupled with the online help it’s easier to understand than using Apple’s Disk Utility.

System has some neat features including the automatic purging and optimising of inactive memory, the use of which can disable the creation of extra swap files and the performance hit this causes. While this can be achieved by using Apple’s Terminal, Cocktail is much easier to work with. If there are problems with databases for Mail or Launch Services (the latter of which affects file type/app associations) they can be rebuilt. Changes to aspects of Spotlight and Time Machine are also based here.

Comprehensive cache clearing (system, user and internet including the extra font caches created by Adobe, Quark and Microsoft) and hunting down corrupted preferences reside in Files. This also includes log and DS_Store management, getting rid of stubborn locked items and the installation of Mac OS X’s hidden Archive preference pane.

Purging inactive memory can prevent the creation of swap files and the resulting performance hit

The average Mac user is unlikely to use Network. While the diagnostics button fires up Mac OS X’s Network Diagnostics utility, which is useful for checking connections, the rest of the toolset seems strangely out of place in this otherwise user-friendly app.

Interface has some useful additions. Choose from the nine screenshot formats, a dozen Finder enhancements and various extras for Mail, Safari, QuickTime and the Dock.

Don’t fancy going through the above maintenance procedures manually each time? That’s where Pilot comes in. Select one of the standard Mac OS X scripts (daily, weekly or monthly), choose which caches to clear and whether you want disk permissions repaired and certain log files cleared or rotated, and then either run the result manually or schedule it. Also installed with Cocktail are a number of Automator actions to be used within the workflows that automate repetitive tasks. This gives access to Cocktail features without having to run the app itself.

Customise Finder and various other Mac apps to your taste

Cocktail’s final offering is a number of reference windows that include system error codes, port numbers and your Mac’s logs and specifications.

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OUR VERDICT

While most of Cocktail’s features already exist on the Mac, being able to access them without using a number of system tools and Terminal make Cocktail a highly useful utility. There are alternatives, some of which, like OnyX, are freely available. The unregistered version of Cocktail allows for 10 launches before timing out – that should be sufficient for you to decide whether it is right for you.

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