Default Activity Monitor Processes

Use your Mac, more importantly to know what is running.

If you are like me, someone who is always looking at the Activity Monitor to find out what is running, then there is high chance you know what is running.

What if you don’t know what is running? Sometimes I wonder what process should be running and which one is the redundant one. When you install an apps, there is a chance it will run additional plugin or process without your knowing. So what you need to know what is the default processes that every OS X running.

Take a look at the image below. It shows you the default processes if you don’t run any apps except connected to Internet. Let’s take a look at each process. And, I’m going to explain in human language. :–)

Default Activity Monitor Processes

  • Quick Look Helper is the background process that generate icon preview whenever you use the Quick Look feature. Let’s say it lets you to view PDF and any supported filetypes directly by pressing space.
  • Finder is the application with a smile face for you to navigate your files. It lets you to run Finder.
  • Activity Monitor is not running by default. It is the application that I use to see the processes that is currently running, be it an foreground or background processes.
  • SystemUIServer is the background process that control how your OS display stuffs on screen. The common usage is to display the icons at the right corner side of Menu Bar.
  • mdworker is the background process that is used by the Spotlight to index your files. It is constantly running to build a list that will help you when you use it to search files via Spotlight.
  • Dock is the process that generate those beautiful icons at bottom of screen.
  • loginwindow is the process that start before anyone login into the computer. It displays login screen, validating login attempts, setting a user environment like launching finder, dock, login apps at the login. It also monitors how you use your mac and provide minor error handling without your consent. Aside the things above, it also handle the logout, restart, and shutdown procedures.
  • System Events is the background process that support the usage of AppleScript scripts by the developers. You can say that it is the process that is required to run the features in AppleScript scripts.
  • cvmsComp_x86_64 is the process that somehow related to the Intel x86_64 instruction set. It is a terminology in Operating System, therefore you don’t need to understand this process. Update: After some searching, it seems that it is part of the OpenGL framework.
  • AirPort Base Station Agent is apparently the process used for tracking wireless network.
  • UserEventAgent is a process that handles complicated stuffs.
  • Folder Action Dispatcher is a process that run the enabled scripts that have been applied to the folder. Usually, it give additional contextual menu when you right-click a folder.
  • fontd is a process that check and validate the “system fonts” installed on your machine. By default, OS X requires some fonts that can’t be uninstalled to run properly.
  • AppleSpell.service is the process that check your spelling in any text-based apps or system.
  • launchd is the system process that control the behaviour of your computer. It is the core behind your running computer.
  • pboard is also known as paste board is the process that is function as the temporary storage for process like copy and paste.