When it comes to purging caches and improving your Mac’s performance, there’s nothing like MacPaw’s CleanMyMac. The utility has been around since the summer of 2009 and has been the most reliable way to keep your Mac running like it’s new.
On the 5th of March, a brand new version of the app released with many changes and improvements. I’ve been using the new CleanMyMac 2 since late January, and here’s what I’ve observed.
The New Design — It’s Stunning
The biggest change in version 2.0 is the completely redesigned user interface. The old version with its light and dark themes was lovable, but this facelift is a very nice change. It really compliments the features of the app with true aesthetics, and that’s exactly what you’d expect from MacPaw, a company who focuses on great design.
CleanMyMac’s layout hasn’t changed much, though there’s no bar at the top of the app anymore. Instead, everything has been moved to a unified sidebar and the Preferences window is available in the menu bar or by pressing CMD+, on your keyboard. The developers moved unnecessary complications out of the way to make sure you get a worry-free experience, not one that an advanced user would need. I’ll talk more about how the functionality was impacted by this change later on.
The app is now designed to look great on Retina displays, and even the icon has been given a slight facelift, from the pink screen with a wiper to a darker purple-tinted one. It’s definitely nothing more than light polish on the outside, but when you click the app you notice a great difference in appearance. The main screen, for example, has been polished with some sparkling streaks behind the iMac. And now there are some completely new graphics in tabs like System Cleanup, which has a beautiful vacuum as a visual representation of the feature.
When you start cleaning something, you’ll notice some minimal, yet appealing and effective, transitions that give the app much more of a natural feel. Switching from one tab to another also uses a nice sliding animation. The best one of all, however, is found when you start cleaning. Once Scan is pressed, the main screen will slide out of the way to reveal an examination, which also slides away when finished. Even the little info bubbles (move your mouse around and look for the “i”) pop up nicely.
The only complaint I have about the user interface is the trash can icon in the Eraser section. I think the icon was designed well, but it looks like there’s a bit too much blur in the fragments of paper. The idea of motion blur makes sense and it would be fine if I didn’t always think my vision was going bad because of it. A bit too much fluff there might cause users with Retina displays to think the app isn’t optimized in one area. (I’m only using a MacBook Air.)
Automatic Cleanup Makes It All Easy
CleanMyMac is much more than a shiny interface, and that’s what’s really important. Originally, CleanMyMac used a full system scanning process that would tell you what was available to clean and then ask you if you wanted to do so. Now things are much quicker. When you launch version 2.0, the main tab is Automatic Cleanup. It will perform a full system scan for you, confirm that you want to remove all the usual caches and iPhoto files (more on these later), and then finish. It’s a one-minute process if you have an SSD.
The automatic scan will offer to remove extra language files by default. That can break some apps, so we’d recommend turning that off in the preferences before scanning.
Now you’re probably thinking “Oh no, now I can’t clean the places I want to. It does it all for me.” Don’t worry, when you finish Automatic Cleanup there’s an option to remove whatever you wish from the system. You can even uncheck the boxes and the app will let you skip straight to Manual Cleanup. Thankfully, the developers haven’t forgotten power users.
You might want to cut your sound a bit first, though: sound effects play when a scan or cleanup session is complete, and there’s a fancy opening animation with sound when you first start the app.
I really like Automatic Cleanup because it’s so quick. In the previous version of CleanMyMac, scanning took a long time and the logs section always slowed it down for some reason. Now there’s no such problem — everything completes in a few minutes so I can continue my work without interruption. That does make me wonder why sound effects are necessary, since I won’t be scanning in the background.
System Cleanup Takes Things a Step Further
If you just want to skip straight to cleaning your entire system, the System Cleanup tab is perfect. It scans for caches, universal binaries, language files, logs, iOS software updates, broken login items, and more. Since it only takes about six seconds to scan (that was in my case, and it found 592.4 MB of files), I’ve found it the best way to get everything sparkling. It’s also very nice to have a small graph that shows what items were found, organized by size. If that’s not enough, you can go into detailed results to see what the app “safely” cleans.
Sometimes authentication is required to clean system caches and logs.
Large & Old Files: Never Forget to Delete Something
I import thousands of photos from my camera each month. Since they’re all RAW CR2 (Canon) files, they take up over 20 MB each. Add that up and my little MacBook Air is in need of a new hard drive fast. Since I typically move them to my external drive, though, everything is fine. That is, until I forget about it. CleanMyMac has a helpful reminder for those archaic files of yours.
In the Large & Old Files tab, you can scan folders — your home directory is the default one — for old files. Any folder that hasn’t been opened in over a week and is sizable will be shown in the results. It’s handy for the days your Mac is out of space. Unlike Automatic Cleanup though, you need to check which folders you want to delete. You can securely delete them as well.
Something Macs need is an easier way to completely remove apps. Launchpad’s method doesn’t always throw away all the preferences and they’re left somewhere deep in the OS. Instead of worrying about such things, you can open CleanMyMac and find the app you want to uninstall. It’ll search for all the related files and remove them safely.
If that’s too much trouble, the app has trash monitoring. When you switch it on, the app will ask you if you want to properly uninstall an app when you put it in the trash. With that you don’t have to worry about remembering to uninstall things fully because the app will do it for you.
My favorite feature of the Uninstaller is its Leftovers tab. Since I sometimes forget to uninstall things correctly and don’t like to have monitoring on, fragments of the apps are left behind. Thanks to this feature, they can be removed with a few clicks. I don’t recommend removing everything on the list without taking a look first because some of the items may still be in use. By default, Leftovers organizes the files by the last time the app was opened, so the top will have things you probably haven’t opened in a long time. Still, make sure before deleting stuff.
I did have one problem with the Uninstaller. It’s supposed to show when you last used an app as a way of helping you choose what to remove, but this feature didn’t work properly. For some of my apps, it says I haven’t used them in over six months. However, I open one of them (GrowlVoice) every day to send text messages with Google Voice. The same goes for iClip, which I just opened yesterday.
CleanMyMac’s problem is that it says “launch date”, but really means “date last modified”. Since some apps store their files in different directories, the .app itself was not modified at all when you opened it last. Now, they might record the launch data somewhere else, but I wouldn’t know where that is. The main point is that this feature is broken and should be reading the correct launch information so I don’t go deleting an app I use everyday.
Extensions Manager Helps You Find Unnecessary Plugins
Last, but not least, is the nifty Extensions Manager. It will help you find old plugins that you may not use any longer. My Safari extensions, for instance, were full of old ones that I never used, mainly because I haven’t been using Safari lately. Most of the plugins found were enabled and belonged to the system, so I didn’t touch them, but some Internet ones like Amazon MP3 Downloader had duplicates I needed to purge. This is a much easier way to find such files than searching around in Finder, that’s for sure.
When in Doubt, Use the Tutorial
The one thing I really love about MacPaw’s apps is how user-friendly they are. You wouldn’t expect a cleaning utility to be something for every user, but this developer makes it just that. There’s a ? in the bottom right corner of the app and when you click it, you’ll be shown a tutorial for the tab you’re currently using. They’re written very well and have details on everything you’d want to know about the app’s functionality.
On top of that, there are little “i” buttons everywhere that tell you about each little feature. If you like to question things, just click one of these when you next see it and find out exactly what the app is doing with your files. This kind of openness and user-education is very nice to see in an app.
A Good Utility Becomes Great
CleanMyMac 2.0 is the epitome of Mac optimization. Onyx may be free, but it’s worth spending $19.97 for MacPaw’s app. You won’t find something of equal strength in the field. There just aren’t as many caring developers out there. The effort MacPaw has put into this app is shown everywhere, from the tutorials to the beautiful new user interface and fullscreen mode to the usability. There was only one major problem, and it was with the Uninstaller’s launch date readings. If that’s fixed, this app will be perfect. Even still, it’s quite the essential tool that keeps your Mac running just like it did out of the box.