How to keep macOS drives clean with Disk Cleaner

A variety of programs and built-in utilities remove unnecessary trash, log files, and cached information from macOS hard drives. Find out why Disk Cleaner may be the most convenient utility to use.


Most Mac users understand the importance of removing unnecessary application downloads, browser information, mail downloads, program logs, and similar files that can clutter and fill a macOS drive--these common occurrences are exacerbated by disk trends favoring less storage for faster SSD performance. With little free disk space to operate, macOS performance suffers, new files cannot be created or saved, and additional content cannot be downloaded. Hard drives must be kept clean.

A variety of third-party applications and built-in tools assist users in maintaining free disk space. The macOS storage management utility (which in macOS 12.0 and later is accessed by clicking the Apple icon, clicking About This Mac, selecting the Storage tab, and clicking the Manage icon) provides multiple options for identifying and removing unnecessary files and even optimizing storage. This storage management utility is helpful, and it can help you better understand which files are consuming a hard disk. Another option that is really easy to use is Disk Cleaner from Pocket Bits; Disk Cleaner, currently the number one paid utility in Apple's App Store, is selling well and receiving strong reviews.

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How to use Disk Cleaner

The first thing you'll notice about Disk Cleaner is the app's friendly interface. Open the program, and you'll be presented with a single Scan icon to click. The program will then scan your macOS drive for unneeded files and information and present a summary report (Figure A). Clicking the resulting Clean button prompts the program to remove the identified files.

Figure A


Numerous reviews confirm the ease with which Disk Cleaner removes gigabytes of unneeded files in seconds after just a few clicks. I experienced the same results in all my tests running Disk Cleaner on a 2017 13" MacBook Pro.

While you can remove all the files the Pocket Bits program marks as no longer needed, you can choose select categories to tailor results to your specific needs. Users can individually remove application caches, application logs, browser data, mail downloads, downloads, trash, iTunes downloads, and files larger than any specific size, although the default setting of >100MB should work well for most users.

Users seeking to dig deeper into specific categories can do so by clicking the corresponding magnifying glass icon. For example, to review the gigabytes of individual application log files a Mac created over time, click the corresponding icon for Application Cache results to open the cache locations within Finder.

A second information icon is also present for each category. Clicking the icon reveals a brief explanation for the types of files collected within the corresponding category.

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While the customization options are helpful, I suspect most users will run with the default settings, which should serve most people well. For $2.99 at the time of this writing, Disk Cleaner is well worth the cost. With just a few clicks, multiple gigabytes of unneeded files can be removed, thereby enabling you to spend more time creating, editing, communicating, connecting, and performing all the other important actions for which the Mac was originally purchased.

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