The Pane Legacy Features

The pane Legacy Features contains functions that had been present in previous generations of TinkerTool System (TinkerTool System Release 2 and TinkerTool System v1), but have lost their meaning in up-to-date versions of OS X. They are still supported if you are running OS X Yosemite, but won’t work with subsequent releases of the operating system.

Periodic Tasks

OS X contains built-in scripts which perform specific maintenance operations automatically on a predefined schedule. Some third-party applications (e.g. virus scanners) also add their own maintenance scripts to the script suite provided by Apple. Three different script sets are available:

The scripts don’t use any fixed times. They are scheduled with a possible inaccuracy of 4 hours. If your computer is switched off or in sleep mode, the jobs will be rescheduled automatically to the next possible date.

The scripts are a historic component of OS X. They were originally important for users who operated their systems on a 24/7 basis, typically as servers. Today, nearly all tasks of the scripts have been superseded by other service processes automatically running in OS X. So it is not really important that you run the scripts.

Nevertheless, TinkerTool System gives you the opportunity to run the scripts manually, at times where the administrator feels it is right. The item Periodic Tasks in TinkerTool System can be used to run a script set or all three script sets “now” by just pressing a button.

Periodic Tasks
Periodic Tasks

You can run the scripts manually if you need their features immediately. TinkerTool System displays the three script categories in a table, together with times and dates when the script sets have run last, and buttons to open reports for each of the respective sets. To run one or all script sets, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the tab item Periodic Tasks of the pane Legacy Features.
  2. Select one or more scripts in the table by the setting check marks for the respective items.
  3. Press the button Run now.

The reports, which can be opened via the buttons labeled Open…, are plain text files containing diagnostic output recorded directly by the different script sets. TinkerTool System does not interpret or process the contents in any way. Apple’s scripts or the scripts of third-party vendors are solely responsible for the reports.

Code Thinning

All versions of OS X support a file format which allows computer software to support more than one processor type. For example, there can be an application which contains code support for the old G3 and G4 PowerPC processors (used by Apple between 1997 and 2004), an optimized 64-bit version for the G5 processor, a version for 32 bit Intel processors, and support for 64 bit Intel processors which are used in today’s Macintosh systems. Software components supporting multiple processor architectures in one single file are called “fat”. Components which support both PowerPC and Intel chips are sometimes also said to be “Universal”. TinkerTool System allows you to selectively remove support for processor architectures you don’t really need in your environment, a procedure called thinning. So you could for example remove support for all PowerPC processor series in a given application because this is no longer needed on any computer running current versions of OS X.

Code thinning
Code thinning

Thinning a software component will reduce the amount of storage space needed to store it. However, you should consider that you will be losing some flexibility when you thin an application: You can no longer transfer this application to any other Macintosh system, only to Macintosh systems which are using the same processor architecture. It would also be a bad idea to thin components on a network file server which is accessed by client computers with different processor types.

You should also not overestimate the amount of storage space you will be saving. The machine code contained in a software product is usually only a minor part of it. The largest amount of storage space is typically consumed by the application’s resources, like image and sound files, reference manuals, or example documents. So if you are going to remove one CPU architecture in a two-architecture product, you can never expect to save 50%.

TinkerTool System can display which architectures are supported in a specified component. It can also pre-compute the storage space you will be saving before you perform the actual thinning operation. To test a specific component, perform the following steps:

  1. Select the tab item Code Thinning on the pane Legacy Features.
  2. Drag the software component you like to have tested into the table. You can also press the button [+] to navigate to the object, or drag a whole folder into the table which will then be scanned.

After adding an item to the table, TinkerTool System will automatically analyze whether it is possible and useful to thin the code parts. The results will be displayed after a few seconds:

Typical symbols used in the column Status are:

By adding items to the table, you are automatically preselecting them for a code thinning operation which can be performed later. You can remove selected items from the table any time by pressing the button [—]. To remove all items, press the button Remove all.

If you drag a folder into the table, TinkerTool System will automatically add all software components it finds in that folder and all its subfolders. This operation might take some minutes and cannot be interrupted for technical reasons.

The computation how much storage space will be gained by code thinning is done based on a currently selected list of architectures that should be removed when found. The list of architectures can be controlled with the elements found in the lower left corner of the window, in the box Select the architectures to keep.

Note that the list of known processor architectures can include code support for processors which are no longer in use by Apple, or might be used in future Apple products, or are in use on mobile Apple devices running iOS.

Processor architectures
Processor architectures

After the table contains all objects for which you like to perform a code thinning operation, press the button Prepare Thinning… at the lower right corner of the window. You don’t need to remove items from the table for which TinkerTool System has rejected code thinning (the items with the red cross marker). TinkerTool System will do this automatically and informs you with an additional dialog what it has done, asking for confirmation.

When the final list of items is complete, a summary panel will inform you

The panel additionally offers two important options:

There are some applications which are using third-party self-monitoring or self-repair features in addition to the safety checks already provided by OS X. Such applications may refuse to run if they detect they have been changed. For this reason, the backup option can be helpful. It is your own responsibility to create and remove backup copies.

OS X itself is aware of code-thinning and correctly supports it at all system levels. Code-thinning does not interfere with security mechanisms such as digital seals (cryptographically signed executables, code-signing) or Apple’s Gatekeeper technology. Thinned applications remain fully intact from the point-of-view of OS X.

Attention Warning: You should avoid to apply the thinning procedure on applications which produce program code themselves. The applications could lose their ability to create code for Macintosh systems with different processor types. This includes developer tools, programs which patch other programs, and applications that create installers or self-extracting archives.

To start the actual code thinning operation, press the button Perform thinning in the summary sheet.

Prepare thinning
Prepare thinning

TinkerTool System will automatically create a log file which helps you to track which applications you have thinned at which date. The log is stored in a certain Library folder of your current user account. Each entry in the log contains the following items:

To review the log entries, press the button Open History on the pane. A table will appear which can be sorted by each of its columns. The log can also be shown, printed or saved as a plain text file. To open it, press the button Display as textual report in the log sheet.