App of the Week: CNET TechTracker
One of the most important things with software is making sure it is kept up to date. The more apps you have, of course, the harder it is to keep it all up to date. Apple’s software, and a few others, update through the built-in Software Update, and apps bought through the Mac App Store can be updated through there. But there’s other software that won’t auto update, or that aren’t in one of these modules, such as Firefox, Skype, Flash Player and more. How do you make sure you keep all of them up to date? One way is to go through CNET’s TechTracker.
CNET is one of the most respected names in tech journalism, but they also host the popular download.com that not only lets you look up Mac software, but Windows, mobile apps, and web apps. They also have a free tool called TechTracker. After making a free account with CNET, you download the TechTracker app (that same account allows you to comment on articles, enter into prize drawings, and more on their website). You log into the account after installing the app, and it scans all the apps on the Mac and compares them to its app repository. When its done, it will tell you how many apps are out of date, and then direct you to a specially made webpage listing all of your apps and at the top the ones that need updating. If the apps needing updates are ones you don’t want scanned, you can tell the webpage to hide the apps either until the next update, or permanently. From then on, TechTracker will scan your computer either every 4 hours, daily, weekly, or monthly and notify you of new updates. Most of the time, it will scan as soon as you turn on your Mac on, which can be annoying when you have no Internet connection and the app complains. If you get TechTracker Plus, which is a paid service, TechTracker will automatically download the updates you need so that you can install them later.
The only issues I’ve found with the entire system is that occasionally it says I need an update that I’ve already installed, which can be kind of a pain. Also the app’s preferences need to be adjusted from the pan it created in System Preferences, rather than TechTracker having its preferences within the app. The only other thing is that some apps, usually newer or some lesser known apps, aren’t in the list, and neither are some big name paid games, such as MineCraft. The list may not be comprehensive, but the majority of my apps outside the Mac App Store are there and the app is pretty reliable otherwise. You can check it out at http://www.cnet.com/techtracker-free/?tag=posts;msg3371189. It is available for Macs running OSX 10.5 and higher, as well as Windows XP and higher.
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