Maintenance utilities for the Mac are heavily debated. Some pundits claim programs that uninstall old, unneeded applications and remove junk files, among other options, are unnecessary. But as any IT professional can tell you, Mac users tend to perform little to no maintenance and tune-up tasks. If many users don't possess a simple program for uninstalling old programs and unnecessary files, dumping the trash (including potentially gigabytes of data needlessly consuming hard disk space within iPhoto (and now Photos), tweaking performance, and repairing disk permissions, these tasks won't be completed.
Over time, Macs become cluttered. Performance suffers.
Sure, Mac users can repair disk permissions using the Mac's integrated Disk Utility. They can manually dump the Photos trash. Users can also manually remove the myriad of components and track all the corresponding library entries for an old program installed once and never used again. But most don't remember to do so.
CleanMyMac, not to be confused with MacKeeper, has consistently helped maintain my household's Macs with no ill effects. Version 3, released this spring, adds several compelling features. The $39.95 (USD) program now automates freeing disk space using its optional Smart Cleanup operation. Smart Cleanup scans the entire Mac, including system files (large and old files), the photo library, mail, iTunes, and the trash bin.
If you don't wish to automate the scan and removal process, you can manually perform these tasks, customizing the files you choose to remove. Because the intelligent cleaning operation leverages a safety database, tuned over several years, it tends to provide more consistent and reliable results than a competing product that doesn't leverage such a cross check before removing potentially important files.
CleanMyMac 3 also includes new features for deeper cleaning. If you choose, the program can scrub email attachments, which can be accessed again, if necessary, by downloading them again from within the original email message that's retained. Because email attachments can quickly consume gigabytes of disk space, the feature can prove compelling for busy professionals getting by with smaller hard drives due to the migration to SSDs, which offer better performance but often at the price of storage capacity.
The program can also remove outdated iOS device backups, failed downloads, old software updates, and copies of iOS apps. I've repeatedly found the application's Uninstaller helpful in removing not only applications, but the various library and corresponding files that get loaded in other locations on the Mac. While these cleaning processes can be completed manually, CleanMyMac's reminders and automated processes help ensure the tasks are completed consistently.
The MacPaw program packs other time-saving features, as well.
The built-in Extensions utility provides a succinct list of installed extensions and plug-ins. The option makes easy work of disabling various add-ons when needing to troubleshoot an issue or free resources.
A new dashboard view provides disk, RAM, battery, and processor status in an easily readable format. The new version also includes health alerts to prompt users when problems arise, such as heavy memory use, high disk temperatures, failing drives, and battery problems.
None of these features are unique or individually justify the additional cost of the standalone maintenance utility. But combining all of them within a single, elegant interface makes the money a decent investment for busy Mac professionals who otherwise won't be bothered to maintain their computers.
Do you use CleanMyMac to take care of your Mac(s)? If not, what tool(s) do you use? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.