CleanMyMac: Boost Performance & Reclaim Space

We’re fairly fortunate as Mac users to run an operating system which clean up after itself. I have never needed to re-format an OS X installation for a speed boost, but that doesn’t mean that we’re free from unnecessary files and caches taking up drive space.

CleanMyMac is an OS X utility that helps to keep your Mac clean and healthy. It’s capable of freeing up space through slimming Universal Binaries, removing unnecessary language files, deleting old caches and logs, and various other miscellaneous files. This review will put CleanMyMac through it’s paces and assess whether it offers a good spring cleaning solution.

Running a Scan

When opening CleanMyMac, you’re presented with a list of the various areas of your system which can be subjected to a cleaning process. These include:

  • Caches: All manner of temporary files that are left behind by user and software operations.
  • Logs: Files which store warnings, errors and output from applications.
  • Language Files: Many applications come with several sets of language files. Unless you speak a healthy combination of French, German, Italian and Mandarin, you’re unlikely to require them all.
  • Universal Binaries: Strip down certain types of application if you no longer require they work on older Power PC machines.
  • Widgets: This sections seems unexplained, but seems to remove redundant/unused Dashboard Widgets.

Two other options – Applications and Quick Erase – allow you to manually delete or clean files/applications by dragging them into the app.

Initiating a ‘Scan’ won’t change any of your files, but will offer an idea of how much space could be freed up. This is likely to be several gigabytes if you have a reasonable number of applications installed. You may be prompted to enter your administrator password as the software scans (or later, cleans) your Mac.

Getting Started with CleanMyMac

Getting Started with CleanMyMac

Upon completing a scan you can drill down into each section to assess which specific files CleanMyMac has found. My experience suggested that the app won’t try to remove an important file – but there’s no harm in quickly checking through the list to look for anything suspicious.

The main advantage of using CleanMyMac is the simplicity on offer. No advanced knowledge is needed to determine which files can be deleted – everything is handled automatically. However, as we’ve learned from various Hollywood blockbusters, “with great power comes great responsibility”. You’re entrusting CleanMyMac with free roam over your system and need to feel confident that it won’t cause any damage.

Removing Files

After selecting which files to remove you can just sit back and watch the progress bars move forward. CleanMyMac has a notable impact on system performance whilst progressing through all the files in question, so it may be worth making a coffee and letting the process run it’s course.

Removing Files

Removing Files

I experimented with removing caches, logs, a variety of language files, and compressing a few large Universal Binary applications. The process went without a hitch, and my system is still running smoothly. It’s difficult to assess whether it resulted in a major performance improvement, but the extra few gigabytes of disk space is certainly appreciated.

Universal Binary is the name given to an application capable of running on both an Intel or Power PC Mac. These two types of processor require a different set of application code, meaning software includes both – it works universally. If you own an Intel Mac, it may be that the Power PC part of each Universal Binary is redundant and can be removed. Very occasionally this process can cause an application not to launch properly – it’s worth taking a backup to be safe.


A variety of preferences customize how CleanMyMac works:

CleanMyMac Preferences

CleanMyMac Preferences

A default set of cleaning operations and required languages can be specified, saving you from selecting the same options time and time again. Secure erase can also be used to permanently remove files if desired – the equivalent of secure empty trash.

Pricing & Trial Limitations

Downloading the trial will allow you to clean up to 200MB of space before requiring you purchase the application.

The pricing structure for CleanMyMac is fairly unusual, based around a particular length of time:

  • 6 Months: $19.95
  • 1 Year: $29.95
  • 2 Years: $49.95
  • Lifetime: $50 (currently on offer)

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this model. I’m happy to pay for a major feature upgrade in a later version, but an arbitrary time period for software such as this doesn’t offer great value. This is especially the case as CleanMyMac is the type of application you may only run once every few months

Essentially, the price comes to $50 – quite expensive for the functionality on offer – particularly when you consider that certain features can be found elsewhere considerably cheaper (such as Xslimmer for compressing Universal Binary applications).


CleanMyMac is excellent at what it does, and can definitely give you a cleaner, faster-operating Mac. As with any tool that changes system files, make sure you have a recent backup and all your data is safely duplicated elsewhere. That said, I felt comfortable to place my trust in the software and didn’t encounter any problems.

If you’re suffering from a sluggish Mac or a lack of hard drive space, CleanMyMac is definitely worth looking into. At the very least, download the trial to see how much space could be freed up. Whether you’re happy to pay $50 will be very much a personal choice – it might be worth trying a few other spring cleaning options first!