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A Mac is like an ant colony: an army of tireless workers carries out tasks beneath the surface to keep the whole operation running, none of them with particular knowledge of the whole. macOS’s ants include agents, background daemons, scheduled jobs (called cronjobs after the crontool), startup scripts, and more.
Lingon X 8 is like the sheet of glass on the side of an ant farm, offering visibility in the seeming manic chaos that keeps the colony alive. The app lets you schedule recurring tasks to launch an app, run a script, execute a command, or, in macOSMonterey, invoke a Shortcut. This is a mix of options anyone can benefit from up through the most technically proficient. Creating recurring jobs in macOS and modifying entries can be a bear. Having a simple interface is a dream come true.
In Lingon, click the + icon at the top of the window, and the app guides you through four steps:
Name the scheduled action and pick whether it should run for just your logged-in macOS user, all users, or as root. (That last option may be required for certain low-level tasks and should be used with care.)
Select Application, Script, Command, or Shortcut.
Enter the text for a script or command or select an application or shortcut.
Control how and when it’s run at one or more recurring intervals, whether it’s launched at startup, and whether it restarts if it crashes.
For instance, if you always want a specific app active whenever you’re using macOS, setting it as a startup application should work—but it could crash, you could quit it by accident, or macOS could decide it’s not active. Choosing “Launch again if crashes” in step 4 above can ensure it’s always available.
Programmers and those who work directly with Unix commands, PHP scripts, shell scripts, and other code will find the ease of setting up and scheduling jobs enormously better than working at the command line.
I was directed to Lingon by a colleague for a reason other than scheduling, though: to troubleshoot startup problems. While this isn’t its primary focus, Lingon X is the best tool I’ve found for beginner through advanced users. The app offers insight into all the apps, scripts, agents, and other software that launch when you start your Mac, and which relaunch automatically if macOS finds they aren’t running due to a crash or an intentional action by a user.
Lingon’s main window includes a list of items under Groups that let you see everything macOS has set to launch at startup, relaunch after crashing, run in the background, or run on a schedule. You can choose View > Timeline, and Lingon lays out in order all upcoming actions, including how long until they next occur.
With View > List chosen, you can browse lists and find items associated with software you thought you stopped using or uninstalled years ago. One of the most common hidden causes of poor system performance, crashes, and unexpected disk operations are agents and similar items that restart themselves constantly after failing because they contain outdated code, but macOS keeps relaunching them.
Lingon comes in two versions: Lingon X ($14.99), downloadable from the developer’s site, with full system functionality, including root access; and Lingon 3 ($3.99), a still-useful but more limited Mac App Store program. Creator Peter Borg offers a feature comparison on the Lingon site.
You can download Lingon X and use it at no cost to examine settings, but a paid license is required to save or delete items.
Lingon X requires macOS Mojave 10.14.4 or later but offers earlier versions starting with Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Lingon 3 requires Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later.
Lingon X makes scheduling recurring tasks a breeze. But it also lets you remove unwanted recurring actions and leftover cruft that could be having an impact on your Mac’s performance.
With the strong resurgence of the Mac in recent years, we want to celebrate the tools we use and that readers recommend to make the most of your macOS experience. Mac Gems highlights great nuggets of Mac software, apps that have a high utility, have a sharp focus on a limited set of problems to solve, and are generally developed by an individual or small company. Stay tuned for weekly updates, and send your suggestions to the Mac Gems Twitter feed (@macgems).