macOS has a reputation as a low-maintenance, flexible, and reliable operating system. In our experience, that’s largely true. However, even the powerful macOS can fall victim to the accumulated digital junk clogging its pipelines.
This is why there are a number of free and paid utilities for Apple computers that promise to give your Mac a good run. We decided to try out popular apps like CleanMyMac and CCleaner for Mac to see if these utilities offer any real benefits.
CleanMyMacX is a paid plan that offers a long list of benefits as well as some pretty bold claims of increased performance.
CleanMyMacX has three main components. There is a system file cleaner, which looks for redundant and non-existent data, allowing you to delete it. This even includes things that are deeply embedded, such as localized data that is not relevant to you.
The second part of the application is an anti-malware scanner. Many readers may find this surprising thanks to the nagging myth that Macs don’t have viruses. The truth is that the only thing that protects Apple computers from viruses, trojans, worms, and other digital bugs is obscurity. With a rapidly growing user base, it’s now worthwhile for malware manufacturers to target these machines, so owning a scanner isn’t the worst idea.
The final part of the package is performance enhancement, monitoring, and throttling.
MacPaw’s specific claims are that you’ll get 4x faster startup, 2.5x more responsive apps, and 5x more free space otherwise, based on their testing with the MacBook Pro 15 With our MacBook 2019. Pro 13, it’s hard to say anything has changed performance wise. It started up in a flash, and rebooting is such a rarity on modern computers it hardly makes any difference.
What we’re going to say is that CleanMyMacX is completely comprehensive, it cleverly centralizes your system management, and it reclaimed a significant amount of free space on our cramped 128GB MacBook Pro. So it’s great value for money in our opinion.
– 100% comprehensive
– Free up a lot of space
– Very easy to use
– Make tasks like uninstalling apps easier
– One-time and annual packages available
– It is not clear if performance will be improved.
– It found no malware, but we have no way of knowing if that is correct.
Although the program is not free, it has been around for a long time and has a good track record. Overall, we recommend it if you want to clean up your Mac without reformatting.
Speedup Mac is another paid plan, but you can try it for free before you buy it. Unlike CleanMyMac X, Speedup does not offer any anti-malware functionality. What it promises is you’ll have more free space and a faster Mac.
It has many different ways to achieve that goal. These include looking for duplicate files, identifying large files that you may not know about, and analyzing which startup apps and third-party apps you don’t use. It also targets unused language files, Mac junk files, and other similar discrete files.
This all sounds pretty good, but after signing up for the free trial, providing our credit card information, and downloading the app in the link emailed to us, we were encountered an error message. The app needs to be updated to work with the latest version of macOS Catalina. So we have no choice but to cancel the trial and move on.
- The app will not install on macOS Catalina.
- There is no one-time purchase option.
Rating: 0/5 Stars
CCleaner is a popular and trusted system cleaner application on the Windows hedge, but many people may be surprised to learn that there is also a version for Mac. We’re only looking at the free version here as an alternative to the paid apps we’ve reviewed so far.
Free CCleaner for Mac focuses on two things. The first is to make your computer faster and the second is to protect privacy. The paid version adds real-time monitoring, automatic updates, and premium support.
We love this little app and it works as advertised. The free version is lighter in features than something like Clean My Mac X, but for the average Mac user wanting a good free solution, or perhaps for schools running full labs Mac, it doesn’t get better than this.
- It’s free.
- It works well.
- Not particularly attractive.
- User-friendly in the middle of the road.
Rating: 4/5 stars
All the apps we’ve reviewed so far are packed with features, trying to lure you in by offering a bunch of real optimization gimmicks, so we thought something like AppCleaner might be a simple alternative. This little applet does one thing and one thing only; it uninstalls apps properly.
The way it works is simple, at least from the user’s point of view. Just drag an application you no longer want into AppCleaner and it will find and list all the files associated with the application on your hard drive. Then, after reviewing those files, you can simply click a button to delete them all.
The main downside here is that it does little for applications that have been removed and left traces on your computer. However, it did help us remove apps that we tried to uninstall but still had their icons cluttered on Launchpad. Now they’re gone and all it takes is a click or two.
- It does one thing and it does it well!
- It’s free!
- It only does one thing, but again it does it well!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Can a cleaning app do anything for a Mac?
This is a very difficult question to answer as your computer’s performance in everyday desktop tasks can be very subjective. These cleaning apps aren’t likely to make much of a difference in benchmarks, and in the age of solid-state storage it doesn’t really matter how messy the actual data is, as it can be read from any any position immediately.
Where does that leave the utility of these cleaning apps? Well, one major area they help is freeing up disk space. In particular, modern MacBooks have fairly small system drives, 28GB and 256GB disks are not uncommon, which means you can run out of disk space fairly quickly. What’s worse, MacOS isn’t always clear where that space is being used.
From that point of view, we can really recommend these junk cleaner apps as a quick and convenient way to delete files that are usually not needed. You can do it manually, but that will take a long time and requires knowledge of exactly where to watch.
Is an app like CleanMyMac or CCleaner safe? There’s no such thing as a completely safe app, so there’s always a chance that these apps will delete something important or interfere with the normal operation of your Mac. This is why you should always maintain a recent backup using Time Machine or the backup software of your choice.