When Apple first transitioned over to Intel processors in their computers, moving away from the PowerPC platform, developers had to begin supporting both architectures for their applications as many users made the transition to Intel whilst others kept their PowerPC machines going strong. This resulted in the universal binary: an application that was packaged for both PPC and Intel processors, enabling developers to ship one image of their product for all of their users.
In supporting both architectures, however, it resulted in the size of applications increasing quite substantially. Snow Leopard was the last operating system to support PowerPC application emulation through Apple’s ‘Rosetta’ software, and Lion will drop support completely when it is released this month. This means that a lot of code in your applications doesn’t need to be there, and is taking a big chunk of your hard drive space in supporting PowerPC. Fortunately, there is a way to slim down these packages and take out the un-needed code, and that’s exactly what Xslimmer does.
The interface of Xslimmer is simple and easy to navigate. You can use the small ‘+’ button at the bottom of the window to choose which applications you wish to add to the list, or you can select the ‘Genie’ option at the top of the window which will go through all of the applications which can be slimmed and cut them down to size.
As well as handling universal binaries, Xslimmer can also rid your applications of un-necessary language files that you don’t need and even keep just the best architecture for your system, so if you are running on a 64-bit Snow Leopard or Lion machine, you will only keep the 64-bit version of the application, which will slim it down further. This preference automatically detects which architecture your system will use and chooses accordingly, so you don’t need to worry about being left with a 64-bit only version of your favourite application that won’t run on your 32-bit system.
Although there are other applications, such as CleanMyMac, available that bundle the same functionality, Xslimmer seems to be by far the most effective. When I scanned all of the applications that I had on my Mac using both pieces of software, Xslimmer estimated savings of 945mb, whilst CleanMyMac barely touched the surface with 9mb.
Xslimmer is the most effective slimming application I have seen available for Mac OS X, and if you’re short on hard drive space or simply want to streamline your applications then it’s well worth picking up. You can download Xslimmer from the developer’s website for $14.95, which is just under £10.