CleanMyMac 3 is an all-in-one optimization and cleaning software for Mac.
Full of convenient cleaning tools designed for safely removing unnecessary files and data.
Attractive design styling with excellent interface organization, segmentation and ease of use.
Free account limited to 500MB of cleaning and a premium license starts at $39.95 for 1 Mac (discounts for multiple machines).
Any owner of an Apple computer who seeks optimal performance of their machine without the knowledge or complication of self-maintenance.
Sleek & easy user interface
Segmented cleaning sections
Shredder feature securely erases sensitive data
Schedule routine cleaning
Free up RAM with 1-click
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)
Based on using MacPaw's CleanMyMac 3 software since its original version (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.
While it can potentially do harm if used carelessly (like any free or paid cleaning software), the software does an excellent job getting rid of unnecessary files and data bulk 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lengthens, it is not uncommon for your machine to become bogged down with leftover data from past usage in the form of outdated cache files, unnecessary data logs, old mail attachments, extra application binaries or broken app data.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 CleanMyMac 3 software since its launch on April 7th, 2015. The opinions and views expressed in this review are entirely our own without any outside perspectives or bias coming into play.
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.
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.
Pricing Model: CleanMyMac 3 Licensing Cost
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 CleanMyMac 3 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.
The standard annual pricing for a CleanMyMac 3 licensing is as follows:
What if you have an old version of CleanMyMac or CleanMyMac 2?
Upgrade to CleanMyMac 3 for 50% off the standard licensing cost after proof of an existing MacPaw product license
Setapp Monthly Subscription - 100+ Mac Apps Including CleanMyMac 3 & 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 CleanMyMac 3 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 newer hardware and software requirements to run this optimization application.
Here are the current specifications needed to run CleanMyMac 3:
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 CleanMyMac 3 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 3 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 review 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. The CleanMyMac 3 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 CleanMyMac 3 Alternatives?
While we have found a lot of value in the performance and convenience of CleanMyMac 3, 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..
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 has become a major target of hackers.
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.
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:
Choose 'About This Mac' under your Apple Menu (top left of screen).
Click on the 'Storage' tab
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
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 CleanMyMac 3. 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, CleanMyMac 3 utilizes a basic two column design. 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.'
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.
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.
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 CleanMyMac 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.
One-Click Scanning & Removal
Diving right into the clean-up process, I utilized the ‘Smart Cleanup' tab to perform a full scan of my MacBook Pro that was initiated by just a single click. The process took around 35 minutes to sort through just about 200GB of data.
When it was complete, I was shown 24.5GB of potential data savings and up to an additional 99.88 GB of savings should I choose to sort manually through my ‘large and old files'.
Within the initial 24.5GB of savings, there were data in random locations that took up a significant amount of space that I'd have never ended up cleaning without the use of this software. These included unneeded foreign language files, user/system files, miscellaneous cache files, old Mail attachments, and iTunes/iPhoto junk files.
Since I am only working with a 256GB SSD, every GB counts. Having the ability to do a thorough scan with a single click is of great convenience to me as it takes all of the hassles out of running manual maintenance tasks.
In the past, I've critiqued the CleanMyMac software as having the potential to automatically delete important files. This time around MacPaw has implemented a structure that will pinpoint large and old files from within your personal files, yet it won't automatically remove them unless the user manually approves them for removal.
I like this tactic as you can pick and choose which files are unnecessary to keep on your computer and determine which are critical enough to leave and continue taking up space on your hard drive.
For users who aren't that computer savvy, this approach will keep the software safer and easier to use by yourself without the unnecessary risks that sometimes occurred while using the last version.
Once you have double checked the files that are scheduled for removal, the actual cleanup process is another single click endeavor. After the cleaning process has been initiated, you'll get a real-time report outlining the process of the cleanup and the amount of data left to be removed.
It was a bit disappointing that there was no indication of an estimated time left for the removal process although typically the cleanup process will be quicker than that of the initial scanning process as it has already scanned your computer and just removes the data that it flagged as unnecessary.
Uninstaller & Extensions Removal
What I like about the uninstaller module within CleanMyMac 3 is the ability to quickly view all your installed applications and see exactly how much space they take up along with a detailed list of the binaries, logs, user data, and supporting files that are tied to this program.
From there I can decide whether or not the application is worth keeping on my machine based on the amount I use it and how much disk space that it occupies on my hard drive.
If I do decide to remove the application, I can do so quickly and efficiently as the software will remove the application and all of its supporting files after just a few clicks.
The same process goes for extensions which are often more hard to manually locate on your machine, and this module simplifies the process considerably.
Privacy & Shredder Tools
The Privacy module is more geared towards removing potentially sensitive data from your Mac should it become compromised or fall into the wrong hands. Within this section, it will scan things like your browsers, Messages app, and Skype (if installed) to locate unnecessary data files that are stored locally on your machine. In some cases, this may be able to save you some significant storage as if you have an excessive backlog of conversations via Messages or Skype.
Do take note that running the “removal” process within this section will permanently delete any data that is checked. This leaves a chance to lose potentially important website cookies (automatic login info), browser history, or conversations. The easiest way to avoid this is to manually overlook which files are to be cleaned and make sure they will not become a burden in the future should you remove them.
The “Shredder” is a useful tool if you're looking to get rid of highly-sensitive files, folders, or media as it will ensure the data isn't recoverable even by way of a recovery software like Recuva. It couldn't be much simpler to use, just locate the file, confirm you'd like to permanently delete it, and the software will do the rest. From my testing, this tool functioned quickly and efficiently without any hiccups.
Editor's 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 installed CleanMyMac 3 back in 2015.
However, I've been working off a MacBook Pro with TouchBar for the last 10 months and decided to run CleanMyMac 3 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).
MacOS High Sierra's Optimize Storage Results
CCleaner (Free Version) Results
CleanMyMac 3 Results
After completing these tests, we have determined the order of effectiveness:
Winner - CleanMyMac 3
CCleaner (Free Version)
Mac's Optimize Storage
The reason we included the word safe next to the CleanMyMac 3 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.
System Dashboard & Inactive RAM Purge
Another convenient feature to CleanMyMac 3 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 going) 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 CleanMyMac 3 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.
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 CleanMyMac 3, but this purging process usually carried out through the terminal which is not a comfortable experience for most users.
As users of the CleanMyMac 3 software since 2015 and the previous generations 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 review.
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 eye-opener.