Put Universal Binaries on a diet with Slimtool

runs on Mac
screenshot of Slimtool

The advent of the Universal Binary was a stroke of genius for the folks at Apple. During the transition period from the Apple-IBM-Motorola PowerPC chip to Intel's x86 line of processors, they realized that apps that could run natively on one platform wouldn't work on the other. This left them with the unappealing situation where every software developer who wanted to serve the whole Apple community would have to release two different versions of each application, one for each platform. Needless to say, it's hard enough to roll-out software anyway, but if you then had to maintain two separate but functionally identical code streams, everybody loses their minds. The Universal Binary fixed this problem.

In a Universal Binary file, both the PowerPC and Intel versions of an application are included. The computer figures out which pieces to use and simply ignores the rest. That's great for you getting your work done, but it doesn't save any space, since each program file is now something like twice as big as it really needs to be, since roughly half of the code in each program won't run on your machine. So how do you gain the abilities added by the Universal Binary but not lose the storage space? Slimtool is one way.

This app will strip out the pieces you don't need for your machine. You can put your files on a diet individually by dragging-and-dropping them into Slimtool, or you can turn it loose to find suitable targets on its own. As it turns out, there are also some Universal Binaries that will break if you do this "strip the other stuff out" routine to them, and for such files, there's a blacklist that prevents Slimtool from trying to tweak—and potentially break—them.

Slimtool is a free Mac application. Even though Universal Binary files can be run on systems running OS X 10.3.9 and later, you need to be using 10.5+ to
take advantage of Slimtool.

Download Slimtool

One Response to “Put Universal Binaries on a diet with Slimtool”

  1. Mike says:

    “was a stroke of genius”

    .. uh, ok, if you say so. I would have called it an obvious, but crude, hack.