OSX is very good at keeping itself clean, when compared to all the registry cruft that can occur with Windows – mostly due to not having a registry that gets filled up. But instead, OSX keeps configuration data in separate folders, often in the hidden Library folder.
Application uninstall in OSX is very simple. You simply delete the application from the Applications directory in Finder. But this doesn’t remove any of the configuration data or other files that might have been created by the application. This can be handy if you plan to re-install the application at some point in the future, but if you don’t plan to then this can lead to a build up of non-useful data on your drive. Other things can also be left lying around like startup scripts, device drivers and login items. With that in mind, it can be useful to go through and clean up your Mac every so often. OSX allows you to do this manually either through Finder or through the command line, but let’s face it – who wants to spend time doing that when there’s apps that’ll do it for you?
Clean My Mac 3
We’ve reviewed Clean My Mac 2 and Clean My Mac 3 here at reviewmacsoftware.com and this application is quite probably the most popular application available. It works well, is unobtrusive and when you drag an Application to the Trash it will automatically pop up and ask if you want to delete configuration entries too. Clean My Mac 3 also scans other areas of your hard drive to remove as much clutter as it can, as well as performing some optimisations of Mail and Spotlight databases which can also help speed things up.
This app from IoBit is very similar to Clean My Mac 3, although it has a fairly strong focus on security of your Mac rather than speed – although it does have some aspects related to speed. MacBooster 3 claims to have an antivirus but I wonder if I have done something wrong because it didn’t even notice when I downloaded the Eicar test virus.
Like Clean My Mac 3, Macbooster provides a screen (screenshot to the right) which allows you to fully uninstall Mac Applications and their associated files. MacBooster also provides cleanups for iTunes related junk files – such as obsolete iPhone backups, iOS application downloads that you may well no longer need and iOS images for reinstalling your phone. Be careful when deleting these to make sure you’re not deleting something you may need to use in the future though.
MacBooster 3 will also scan your photo libraries to attempt to find duplicate photos. When I tried this I found that it thinks similar photos are actually duplicates. This can be a good thing because if you’ve been a bit click-happy you may well have a bunch of very similar looking photos and you only really need one. This can clean up some good space too.
MacBooster 3 will also scan your hard drive for large files – files that may have been used previously to install something, or movie files that you ended up not really wanting but then forgot where they were. This in itself could clean up heaps of space on your drive enabling you to not need to carry around that extra USB drive.
Detox My Mac
We’ve not looked at this one, although it has been recommended a few times in comments on other articles, but is treated quite similarly to all the other Mac Cleanup software titles by the majority of Apple forum frequents – that is to say, they insist such things are not necessary. As you’ll see at the end of this article, we tend to agree in principle but with the proviso that you know what you’re doing to administer your Mac manually. You can check out Detox My Macs claims at detox-my-mac.com
We reviewed MacKeeper some time ago but have since changed our minds on its usefulness and many sites on the Internet do not recommend the use of MacKeeper – and given how hard it can be to get rid of (and the speed of its antivirus scans) we can’t recommend it either.
It’s fair to say that if you’re a reasonably proficient Mac user you probably won’t need any of the ‘speed up my mac’ type software. Cleaning up files after you’ve finished with them, making sure there’s no extraneous login software running and checking the Activity Monitor to see what’s eating up your CPU will probably make more sense than spending hard earned cash on something you can do yourself. But for novice users these programs can be helpful – just be careful that you don’t end up deleting more than you should and breaking something. As always, a good backup is the best idea before installing and playing with any of these kinds of things.