MacPaw CleanMyMac 3 Review

CleanMyMac 3 is an all-in-one optimization and cleaning software for Mac.

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Features

Full of convenient cleaning tools designed for safely removing unnecessary files and data.

User Interface

Attractive design styling with excellent interface organization, segmentation and ease of use.

Price

Free account limited to 500MB of cleaning and a premium license starts at $39.95 for 1 Mac (discounts for multiple machines).

Ideal For

Any owner of an Apple computer who seeks optimal performance of their machine without the knowledge or complication of self-maintenance.

Pros

  • Sleek & easy user interface
  • Segmented cleaning sections
  • Convenient uninstaller
  • Shredder feature securely erases sensitive data
  • Schedule routine cleaning
  • Free up RAM with 1-click 

Cons

  • Licensing is annually
  • Has the potential to delete precious data if used incorrectly (like any cleaning tool)
  • Free alternatives exist like CCleaner (with fewer features)

Final Verdict

Based on using MacPaw's CleanMyMac 3 software since its original release (back in 2013), we highly recommend the software to our readers. The interface is ultra-sleek and easy to use with no self-maintenance knowledge required.


Yes, it can potentially do harm if used carelessly like any free or paid cleaning software, but this application does an excellent job getting rid of unnecessary files and data bulk (while protecting important stuff) to keep your Macintosh computer running as smooth and efficient despite the age of your machine. 

It is no secret that Apple's products are as popular as ever with their iPhones dominating mobile sales and their Mac computers being a top choice for students and business users. 


As the lifespan of your Mac computer lengthens, it is not uncommon for your machine to become bogged down with leftover data from past usage in the form of outdated cache files, unnecessary data logs, old mail attachments, extra application binaries or broken app data. 


The result of all this backlog is a slower machine with less free space on your disk drive to store all your precious files, folders and applications. Fortunately, there is an convenient solution to this dilemma if you are willing to invest into a reputable optimization software.

In the remainder of this article, we will provide a review of our experience using the MacPaw's newest version of the software since its launch on April 7th, 2015. The opinions and views expressed in this article are entirely our own without any outside perspectives or bias coming into play.


MacPaw Company Overview

The company was founded in June of 2008 by Oleksandr Kosovan, who remains the CEO and owner of MacPaw. Their headquarters is based in Kyiv, Ukraine although MacPaw also is registered to have domestic roots in Santa Clara, California. 

MacPaw focuses on software development for both the Mac and PC platforms and their applications are designed to help users solve common issues primarily regarding optimization and security. 


According to the company's CrunchBase profile, they currently have in between 101-250 employees. Though not being officially accredited, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

MacPaw software company photo

The MacPaw team in a photo posted on their company's 'About' page.

Some of you Mac-savvy readers may be familiar with The Unarchiver, a popular application for unpacking file archives. MacPaw acquired The Unarchiver back in July of 2017 for an undisclosed amount of money.


In September of 2017, MacPaw announced that they have also invested in a UK-based software platform company called Paddle


Licensing & Pricing Options

MacPaw has an interesting business model that allows any prospective users the ability to download and test the software for free in exchange for limited cleaning potential. How limited? The free version of CleanMyMac 3 will only clean up to 500MB which is a minuscule amount compared to what you should expect to regain using their premium licensed version.


However, this method gives anyone on the fence about buying a license a chance to preview the software on a limited basis and get a feel for the user interface and feature-set.

For some very light users, the 500MB may be just enough to cover your optimization needs although most will benefit significantly from the premium version especially if you are a heavy user of your Mac or have owned your Apple computer for many years.

CleanMyMac Annual Pricing

MacPaw software bundle costs

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MacPaw Software Bundles

  • CleanMyMac 3, Gemini 2, Hider 2 & Wallpaper Wizard 2 - $55.95
  • CleanMyMac 3 and Gemini 2 - $53.95
  • CleanMyMac 3 and CleanMyPC - $67.95
CleanMyMac 3 license upgrade fee

Upgrade Fee For Older Versions of CleanMyMac

  • Upgrade to the newest third-generation for 50% off the standard licensing cost after proof of an existing MacPaw product license

Setapp Monthly Subscription - 100+ Mac Apps Including CleanMyMac & Gemini

If you are planning on utilizing a lot of Mac applications then you may want to look into MacPaw's new Setapp membership which has been touted as the 'Netflix of Mac apps"'. 


Priced at $14.99 per month, Setapp instantly gives you licensed access to over 100 popular Mac apps for use on a single machine. CleanMyMac 3 is included in this subscription as well as their popular duplicate finder Gemini along with other popular software like Disk Drill, Bartender, Netspot, Mosaic and many more.


If you want to extend this usage to other Mac computers that you may own then you can do so for an addition $4.99 each per month. Best of all, Setapp offers a free 7-day trial which is useful for those looking to test out the full capabilities of the software before purchasing.


Will CleanMyMac 3 Run On My Apple Computer?

MacPaw has updated the CleanMyMac software line three times now. With each new version of the optimization software, there are better tweaks to the interface, features and performance which warrant the upgrade.


However, with the newer versions of CleanMyMac comes more advanced hardware and software requirements to run this optimized application (just like any other Mac app or software). 


Here are the current specifications required:

If you own any Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.7 or earlier then you'll have to upgrade to a newer version of Apple's operating system or get CleanMyMac Classic instead which still caters to older generations of Mac.


Is Clean My Mac Safe To Use?

The idea of using any cleaning software is a very controversial subject in the Mac community and you'll see random users warning against them on forums and message boards due to a few reasons.


The primary one comes from a malicious attack towards rival software MacKeeper years ago which posed as a legitimate software called Mac Defender through promotional advertising and then infiltrated and phished users who fell for the scheme. 


Additionally, certain pieces of Mac optimization software are too lenient on the cleaning potential. This causes them to favor removing the most amount of data and freeing up the most hard disk space as possible without worrying about the sensitivity and importance of the files that are being deleted.


MacPaw has realized this issue from the start and developed their CleanMyMac software to efficiently scan your Mac's hard drive to safely and accurately determine which files and data are safe to remove and flag potential valuable data for further evaluation before optimizing.


They are able to accomplish this through the use of a proprietary safety database comprised of operational rules and exceptions to avoid any cleaning mistakes. This software will reference this updated list every time it runs a cleanup or optimization to ensure the smoothest end result. 


Additionally, CleanMyMac 3 will prompt you and require a manual review when it isn't sure if the files you are trying to delete are valuable or not. It will also let you know if you are attempting to remove any files that are critical to the MacOS operating system. 


Are There Any Free Alternatives?

While we have found a lot of value in the performance and convenience of MacPaw's optimization software, there are free alternatives that do a relatively decent job at cleaning your Mac.


The catch is that the level of detail in cleaning your machine with a free alternative compared to MacPaw's software will often be less and the potential of deleting valuable files is more prevalent unless you are careful and know what you are getting into.. 


CCleaner

One of the most popular free tools for optimizing the speed and disk space of a Mac or PC with millions of users to date. Has had a solid reputation until recently when the software became a major target of hackers

CCleaner interface

A look at the user interface for CCleaner Free on MacOS.

CCleaner is available to download free for personal use although they charge for a premium version which has more features and functionality or if you intend to use the software for business purposes. 


MacOS Sierra's 'Optimize Storage' Tool

Up until the latest generations of MacOS, there was no support for a native maintenance or cleanup tool within Apple's operating system. However, this has changed with the release of Sierra (& High Sierra) and their new 'Optimize Storage' tool. 

MacOS Sierra's Optimize Storage Tool

The 'Optimize Storage' feature panel within MacOS Sierra & High Sierra.

Apple has posted a walkthrough on how to access this built-in tool although remember that it will only be present on MacOS Sierra (10.12) and High Sierra (10.13).  Here are some simplified steps on how to access it is:

  1. Choose 'About This Mac' under your Apple Menu (top left of screen).
  2. Click on the 'Storage' tab
  3. You'll see an overview of your hard drive's contents and there will be a 'Manage...' button to the right of this graph of which you need to click
  4. At this point, a new window will pop-up and show you recommendations for optimizing the storage on your Mac

It is worth noting that the actual cleanup functionality is limited with this native Mac tool compared to MacPaw's dedicated cleaning software. The only automated optimization functionality in this panel involves emptying the trash (rather underwhelming). 


The remainder of this tool is just a breakdown of what your hard drive's storage is comprised of in different data categories. You are able to go through each section manually and clean things up on a file-by-file basis although you lose nearly all your efficiency conducting optimization this matter.


User Interface & Layout

While the user interface is never the most important element of a Mac application, it is one of the most critical parts as it is your first impression of the software and gives you a feeling of how easy it will be to utilize it.


Fortunately, MacPaw has mastered the user interface design, and CleanMyMac 3's UI is exceptional. We'd go as far to say it offers one of the best user interfaces we have ever seen on a Mac application.


With an option to utilize in both windowed or full-screen modes, the design utilizes a basic two column concept. On the left is a quick menu that allows you to toggle through the optimization segments and on the right is an expanded view of the segment's feature-set.


MacPaw chose well-designed and informative icons alongside a verbal description to designate the different optimization and maintenance sections. This organization is set between six options under 'cleanup' and five that are part of 'maintenance.'


Notable Features

Over the years, MacPaw has had a lot of opportunities to refine their feature set. This has allowed them to determine where the most prominent areas where unnecessary data is being piled up from their customers and find new ways to optimize these areas to offer highest performance gains from CleanMyMac 3 while maintaining a smooth user experience.

Cleaning

  • Easily clean up unused files and folders by initiating an in-depth scan of your Mac with a single click.
  • Smart detection is used to determine which files are “safe” to delete and which need further approval as they may contain important files
  • Will automatically flag large and old files for manual deletion to identify potential unnecessary files taking up space and preventing the accidental removal of critical data.
  • Support for Mail, iTunes, Skype, and Photos apps that can detect and remove cached files, incomplete downloads, unneeded backups, and previous updates to clear up more space on your hard drive.

Maintenance

  • Dedicated application uninstaller will completely remove applications effortlessly without leaving any unnecessary files behind.
  • Speed up your Mac via spotlight reindexing, repairing disk permissions, and Mail search optimization.
  • Remove individual add-ons like widgets, extensions and plugins from one central panel
  • Curb your digital footprint both online and offline by deleting past browsing history, Skype conversations, Messages, downloads, recently open files and more.
  • Remove data permanently using the “Shredder” tool thus making sensitive information unretrievable with third-party recovery software.

Monitoring & Health

  • Offer real-time health alerts as to your Mac's health including memory use, storage limits, and hardware temperatures
  • View a well-organized report showcasing active storage, memory, battery, and processor performance.
  • Receive head-up notifications and actions in regards to system issues including a full trash bin, force quitting unresponsive apps and freeing up RAM.

By opening up the Clean My Mac software to cover more ground, MacPaw has further expanded the value that their software offers. Due to this, the value per dollar has increased significantly making it a more worthwhile investment for most users.


Cleaning & Optimization Performance

We can talk about the excellent interface and features all day, but if the software doesn't get actual results then it is not a worthwhile investment or something that should even be bothered to install onto your Apple computer.

Shredder tool interface

Recent Performance Update (3/14/18)

The previous testing for this review was completed back in 2015, and we have gone through several Apple computers in different variations of laptops and iMacs.


Unfortunately, this means we don't have that same machine to tally up the total space savings earned through our use of the software since we first posted our CleanMyMac 3 review back in 2015.


However, I've been working off a MacBook Pro with TouchBar for the last 10 months and decided to run this software again for the first time on this laptop to compare the optimization analysis results against free alternatives like CCleaner or the native Mac Optimize Storage option (all calculated on the same day within minutes from another).

High Sierra's optimize storage results

MacOS High Sierra's Optimize Storage Results

CCleaner Free's results

CCleaner (Free Version) Results

CleanMyMac 3 Results

After completing these tests, we have determined the order of effectiveness:

Software

Total Savings

Winner - CleanMyMac 3

6.43GB (Safe)

CCleaner (Free Version)

4.88GB

Mac's Optimize Storage

4.15GB

The reason we included the word safe next to the Clean My Mac results is since the software has identified these files and data could be safely removed without any loss to the system or be risking any private data.


However, when looking through the results at a deeper level, you can note that the software discovered a whopping 160.41GB worth of files were identified as 'Large & Old Files'.

If I am not happy with the automated 6.5GB in savings, then I have the option to dig further into that section and determine which of the large and old files I no longer need without having to take the time to search for them myself. 


This is a great example of where MacPaw has designed their software to be both effective and easy to use for someone who isn't the most tech savvy. It found more junk and unnecessary data to delete than both Mac's Optimize Storage feature as well as the free CCleaner software to start. 


For those who feel comfortable browsing through the large and old files, you can individually select which of them you give permission to delete or simply leave them all on your company if you are too nervous to delete something important. 


When used correctly and with caution, MacPaw's software will never delete data that your computer needs or personal files that you wish to keep. This level of piece of mind is something that I think a lot of consumers seek as computer maintenance is something that important yet daunting to the average consumer in terms of risks if you don't really know what you are doing.


System Dashboard & Inactive RAM Purge


Another convenient feature is the 'System Dashboard' which provides you with an overview of your Mac's current health state including your storage, memory, battery and processor activity. 


If you are a heavy multitasker like I am (it is not uncommon for me to have 20 Chrome tabs open) then you will find yourself running out of RAM quickly even with a Macintosh that has relatively high specs. 


In my case, I regularly use this CleanMyMac feature to clear out any inactive RAM that is being still being occupied thus freeing up more RAM for me to use for my present processes. 

My current RAM usage before purging inactive memory.

is CleanMyMac safe

The resulting RAM usage after a single click of the 'Free Up' button.

Don't let me confuse you in that the clearing of inactive memory can be done without a premium software such as this, but this purging process usually carried out through the terminal which is not a comfortable experience for most users.


Final Verdict

As users of this software since 2015 and its previous versions since 2013, we stand behind the software that MacPaw has developed and believe it to be a solid investment for most Mac users who are reading this evaluation.

While it has a few downsides like an annual fee for a premium license, CleanMyMac 3 does a better job optimizing and cleaning up unnecessary data on our Mac computers than any other software we have tested including MacKeeper, CCleaner and MacOS Sierra's 'Optimize Storage' feature.


That is an impressive feat nonetheless, MacPaw's desire to produce software with such an elegant, easy to use interface while maintaining the safety of automatically removing data without deleting system or private files makes this software a real winner in our book.

Content Related To This Review

Leave us a comment below if you have any further questions or if you want to let us know that you found value in our Clean My Mac 3 review!

Colt Agar

Colt Agar

Managing Editor at TheTechReviewer.com
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and web services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.
Colt Agar
Colt Agar
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