Day after day of Internet downloads, creating memes, and adding to your music collection can take a toll on your computer. This normal usage adds up to forgotten files, duplicates, and programs you forgot you installed. Well, if you’re like me, at least.
Magician promises to make problems like these disappear, refreshing your Mac in the process. It also does a ton more, way more than you’d expect for an app like this. Let’s take a look.
Aside: Upon installing Magician I had to ask myself a question, and I hope I’m not alone: what is the icon for Magician supposed to be? My best guess is an umbrella covering some clouds. A friend suggested a whale with large teeth, and our editor thinks it’s an elephant. And now on to the review.
A Different Kind of Beast
When I first downloaded Magician, it was under the guise that it was an app for cleaning up your hard drive. Yet it seems to have a crisis of multiple personalities. Or maybe it’s the benefit of multiple personalities. Magician doesn’t just help you find chunky files, it will also tell you the weather for your locale, your current upload and download speed, and other system information.
The best news, though, is that it incorporates some of the best features of other products all in one place for the low, low price of free. The duplicate file finder echoes that of Gemini (another Mac app) and should frankly be built into the operating system. The log and cache cleaner is reminiscent of Hazel and other “sweepers”, but the fact that most of these features come packaged into this one app is a big plus. Did I mention there’s a virus scanner as well?
Here’s a complete rundown of what this app can do:
- Clear cache/temporary data
- Locate duplicate files (with an easy deletion process)
- Check for app updates and rarely used apps
- Uninstall apps
- Change default programs for system files
- Add/Remove login items
- Provide system information
- Provide weather, upload speed, download speed
- Locate files based on size
- Check downloaded files for viruses and trojans (though this isn’t as useful, since it’s rather out of date)
- Manage resources (RAM, CPU, temperature, etc.)
Needless to say, it’s fully-featured.
Using the App
Magician is a three column setup, but one column is mostly static, just describing the option you’ve selected in other columns. It looks and operates like a Finder window. In the leftmost column, a user can make selections about which of the features of Magician they want to run.
Additionally, Magician comes with an applet window that stay on top of all other windows (apart from apps you’ve set to full-screen) to keep you informed of the speed and quantity of Internet downloads and resource usage such as RAM and CPU. This applet can also be moved to the menubar which is a preferable location to a floating window, in my opinion. It took me awhile to find this, but the applet and menubar information can be hidden by clicking the Magician icon in the menubar and then selecting “Hide Monitor Window.”
The features of Magician are all easy-to-use and most importantly, they work intuitively. That sounds like a “duh” moment, but I’ve interfaced with many similar apps and not all do what they advertise. For instance, you may find a duplicate file app that finds the duplicates but then makes the user select every other file in order to delete the duplicate. Magician selects them for you. Magician also gives the option of removing items completely or moving them to the trash in case you realize you accidentally deleted something you didn’t mean to remove.
There are some problems…
Magican worked fairly well, but there were several problems I hit. The first is that the app could not recognize my system information. The Hardware tab of Magician is meant to give a system overview very similar to Finder’s About This Mac selection. On my computer (a 2011 Macbook Air) the tab was blank. For some reason, it couldn’t glean the hardware information, but since About This Mac does the same thing, it wasn’t an inconvenience.
The other issue came when running the clean-up of temporary files and caches. I set Magician to move these files to the Trash, but when I later went to empty the Trash, some of the temporary files were in use. Had I closed all my open apps and/or logged and logged back in before I emptied the trash, I probably wouldn’t have encountered the problem, but it’s worth noting in case you run into the same problem.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the app has rather inflated claims, stating that deleting log files will speed up your programs and more. It also is a bit too aggressive, and we wouldn’t recommend using the Quick Cleaner option without checking what it’s removing, since by default it’ll remove extra languages from your Mac, and that can break some apps. It’s fairly user friendly, but you still need to use it with both eyes open.
The App that Keeps on Giving
On top of the features I’ve reviewed, Magician comes with a few tack-on applications: MagicianFile, MagicianDocument, and MagicianRest. I won’t talk much about MagicianFile because it equates to a Finder replacement that doesn’t offer much above and beyond the system application.
MagicianDocument gives you the ability to find files by type in a way that doesn’t bring back extraneous system files and other unwanted documents. For example, I selected “Microsoft Office” and it found some files from my college days that I hadn’t seen in a long time, even using Finder. Bear in mind, though, I’m not a Finder power user so I’m sure for others it won’t be as effective.
Lastly, MagicianRest operates in the same vein as Time Out, as an app that reminds you to take a break from your computer at regular intervals. All-in-all, they aren’t bad as free add-ins, but I thought MagicianDocument was the best of the three.
I went in to the review feeling, both from the Web site and the look of the app itself, that Magician would be one of those ad-infested, resource hogs that didn’t deliver on its promises. I’m happy to say that I was completely wrong. Magician is chock full of quality features in a “everything and the kitchen sink” kind of way, though that can be both good and bad. It’s nice it does so much, but it’s a bit much at the same time.
The features work well, and it used less than 1% of my CPU (according to Activity Monitor) when it wasn’t in use, so it’s not to resource-intensive. While I was put off by the inability to exit the applet/menubar attachment, I can see myself using Magician on a weekly basis from now on to keep my Mac a bit more free of file debris, especially considering it didn’t cost a dime.