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GRYTVIKEN / KING EDWARD POINT (Rixstep) — Tracker is the only utility available for Apple's macOS that can reliably and accurately monitor changes to an Apple filesystem. It's been around since before the days of Oompa Loompa. Admins say they swear by it.

But recent changes to Apple on-disk filesystem architecture have necessitated several major changes to Tracker as well. Tracker for High Sierra is the result of those changes.

What is Tracker, and how does it work?

Tracker is a macOS utility that monitors filesystem changes and helps you act on those changes, to remove unwanted files and repair damage caused by intruders or rogue processes.

Earlier attempts by other vendors to monitor filesystem changes relied on Apple's 'filesystem events' driver. They ultimately failed. The filesystem events driver fseventsd may be turned off, and it has a severely limited FIFO (first in first out) buffer that can easily overrun. Tracker relies on file timestamps, and, as such, cannot fail.

Instead, Tracker takes over where the Unix command line find leaves off, offering far more ease of use, flexibility, and opportunities, in an integrated and coordinated graphical environment.

Tracker can monitor filesystem changes not only after a specified time, but also before a specified time as well, meaning use of the host computer need not be put on hold. And Tracker can monitor changes not only in a single area of the filesystem, but in a virtually unlimited number of filesystem areas simultaneously.

Tracker for High Sierra can also skip over parts of a target area if so desired.

Tracker reports on all filesystem changes within a given interval, be they mere accesses to files or, more crucially, file modifications. Tracker also reports if other software has changed a file's timestamps.

In short, Tracker sees and reports on everything, effectively being the only unbreakable tool for uninstalling software, and for seeing what other users and/or processes have done to a filesystem.

Tracker is also a file manager, meaning users can copy, move, and delete files (and directories) at will, as well as interact with other native tools and utilities.

Tracker can save its search results to disk, meaning cleanup operations can be resumed at a later point in time, all within the comfortable confines of the macoS graphical user interface.

Recent changes to the topology of macOS filesystems have necessitated changes to Tracker for High Sierra.

1. Defaults

As one Apple network guru put it, Apple's defaults system, inherited in toto from NeXT, underwent changes at the hands of an Apple developer, who seemingly took a lunch break in the middle of the project, and never came back.

The defaults system, once one of the most beautiful heirlooms from the days of Redwood City, is today a vainglorious mess. A tracking utility for macOS High Sierra has to be able to function without being dependent on the defaults system.


High Sierra runs on Apple's new filesystem APFS. Changes to file scans and listing of results were therefore necessary.

3. Skip & Scan

A good tracking report must be as free as possible from distractions, but today's Apple systems are hopelessly cluttered. One case is the Developer hive, located in the user's Library directory. Another is the ambitious Unified Logging and Activity Tracing (ULAT) daemon, which continually spews out files in the /var/db area. Not only are these hives of no general interest, they also distract users.

There must therefore be a way to not only specify which areas to scan, but which areas to skip.

4. New Look & Feel

The new Tracker for High Sierra also sports a new 'minimalist' toolbar, and not just one, and not just two, but three information sheets for each and every file listed.


Tracker for High Sierra is available with both the ACP Collection for High Sierra and the Xfile Collection for High Sierra. Current prices, including one year of new applications and enhancements to current applications, start at $59.

A portable version of Tracker is also available to ACP users with the ACP Portable Collection, a version compatible with macOS/OS X dating back to 10.4 Tiger and then forward to the present day.

An earlier version of Tracker is available with the free Xfile System Test Drive. This Test Drive is limited in both functionality and time, but may serve to give an idea of how things work with the 'real' unlimited versions.

A standalone version of Tracker for High Sierra may be made available at a later point in time, most likely, in such case, after the introduction of macOS 10.14.

Review copies of Tracker for High Sierra are available upon request.

Go ahead. Have fun.


About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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John Cattelin
Media Contact
ACP/Xfile licences

See Also
Products - ACP - Tracker: Oh go ahead. Have fun.
Reviews: App Uninstallers Exposed - The OmniFocus Project

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