Yesterday, when I kept crashing each time I tried to upload a texture or save a snapshot to my hard drive, I popped into the helpful Macinrosh Users group chat to see if anyone else had the same problem. "Me, too!" I was told by some and then came the inevitable "You should use Firestorm."
That viewer has been a lag-fest for a number of years, even when I disable as many of the toys as I can and drop my graphics preferences to below system recommendations. Look, I have a Late-2009 27" Apple iMac. It runs everything very well – especially since the last OS upgrade – but it really doesn't like Second Life and Second Life doesn't like it.
After making sure I was using the latest Official viewer and still having problems, I thought I'd try some other Third Party viewer. Checking the Wiki list of such I saw l no updates on some older viewers I once really liked, but I came across one I hadn't seen before. Alchemy.
First impression: Dark. It is very dark and contrasty. Parts of it are too dark, blending into other dark parts that make them tricky to use. Like the Conversations pane.
Though on the whole, after a few hours of use, I like it. The Alchemy-logo folders in Inventory are annoying but that's about the extent of my actual complaints. Many features are improved over the Official viewer, like the Environment Settings pane. It is much smaller and clearer than the Official viewer and you can add a tool bar button to call it up right away. Similar controls are available with a Quick Settings button.
Bells and whistles? There are a few. Your object editing beam can be a rainbow. If the Alchemy window isn't on top then in-world notices can be sent to your desktop. Yep. Looking for a way to turn that off. Inventory has buttons for opening and closing all folders. Can't imagine why I'd need the Open one, but the Close button is great. More goodies are buried in the menus and Preferences. None of these seem to increase lag so big "Yay!!!" there.
Right now Alchemy is missing the photo filters for all snapshots except those sent to Flickr or Twitter, but that feature is relatively new in the Official viewer so I'm sure it will show up soon. Overall, Alchemy builds on the original without getting carried away. It is low-lag, easy on the eyes, and works just fine.
Except I still crash when trying to upload textures or save a snapshot to disk. Must be an issue between Second Life and the Apple OS.