It is no secret that Apple’s products are as popular as ever. Their iPhones are dominating mobile sales while their Mac computers remain a top choice for student and business use.
As the lifespan of a Mac computer lengthens, it is not uncommon for your machine to become bogged down. Sluggish performance is often due to unnecessary data from past usage. This may include outdated cache files, leftover Mac OS X logs, old mail attachments, extra application binaries, or broken app data.
The result of all this excess data is a slower machine with less free space on your disk drive to store all your precious files and applications. There is a convenient solution to this dilemma if you are willing to invest in a reputable Mac cleaner software.
In the rest of this article, we will give you an in-depth CleanMyMac X review based on our experience using the MacPaw’s tenth-anniversary version of the app (hence the X branding) since its launch this past September.
Our goal is to leave you without any lingering questions or concerns after reading our CleanMyMac X review. Be careful of the integrity behind all CleanMyMac X reviews found online (such as on Google) as the motives may be invalid.
Rest assured, all opinions expressed in this article come from our use of CleanMyMac without outside perspectives or bias coming into play.
- Licensing & Pricing Options
- User Interface & Layout
- Notable Features
- CleanMyMac X: Cleaning & Optimization Performance
- CleanMyMac X: Will It Run On My Apple Computer?
- Review Summary
Licensing & Pricing Options
MacPaw has a convenient business model that allows any prospective users the ability to download, install, and test CleanMyMac X for free in exchange for limited cleaning potential. How limited? The free version of CleanMyMac X will only clean up to 500MB. Truthfully, this is a minuscule amount compared to the likely results of a licensed version. We did not test the free version within this review.
However, this method gives anyone on the fence about buying a license a chance to preview CleanMyMac X on a limited basis and get a feel for the user interface and feature set. For some light users, the 500MB may be just enough to cover basic optimization needs.
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 licenses can be purchased in both a yearly subscription or lifetime use which costs more but keeps from having to re-bill in the coming years.
We prefer to purchase directly from the developer as there are often promotions and better support when buying through MacPaw's website, however, CleanMyMac X offers purchasing opportunities through the Mac App Store as well.
However, the CleanMyMac X website states the following problem:
“Guidelines of Apple don’t allow some of CleanMyMac X features, so we had to remove them from the App Store version. The MacPaw Store and Setapp editions of CleanMyMac X don’t have such limits.”
Due to this, we DO NOT recommend buying CleanMyMac X through Apple's native App Store unless you want to have a watered-down experience of this Mac cleaner.
CleanMyMac X Annual Pricing
CleanMyMac X Lifetime Pricing
Upgrade Fee For Older Versions of CleanMyMac 3 or previous versions
- Upgrade to the newest generations for 50% off the standard licensing cost after proof of an existing MacPaw product license (including CleanMyMac 3)
Alternative Option: Setapp Monthly Subscription
If you are planning on utilizing a lot of Mac apps, you may want to look into MacPaw's Setapp subscription. Think of Setapp similar to Netflix, but you gain access to Mac apps instead of access to video content.
Priced at $9.99 per month (or $107.88 annually), Setapp instantly gives you licensed access to over 100 popular Mac apps for use on a single machine. CleanMyMac X 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.
Best of all, Setapp offers a free 7-day trial which is useful for those looking to test out the full capabilities of the subscription and CleanMyMac X before purchasing. If you'd like a full review of their Setapp membership, you can read our Setapp review here.
User Interface & Layout
If you want to extend this usage to other Mac computers (each base subscription supports two Macs) that you may own then you can do so for an additional $4.99 each per month.
While the user interface is not always the most important element of a Mac app, it makes up for much of the first impression and often portrays how easy it will be to utilize. Out of all of the various software that we have reviewed, not many impress us on the interface, especially for a Mac cleaning application.
Fortunately, MacPaw has mastered the art of designing a user interface, and CleanMyMac X's UI is exceptional. We'd even go as far as to say it offers one of the best user interfaces we have ever seen on any Mac application that we have ever used.
With an option to utilize in both windowed or full-screen modes, the design uses a basic two-column concept. On the left is a quick menu that allows you to toggle through the various optimization tools 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 contains six options under ‘cleanup' and five that are part of ‘maintenance.
Over the years, MacPaw has had a lot of opportunities to refine its feature set and has evolved significantly since our original CleanMyMac X review went live. 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 the highest performance gains from CleanMyMac X while maintaining a smooth user experience.
Scans for junk files and unnecessary system files on your Mac computer including those found in your user cache, language, system cache, iTunes junk, user logs, and system logs.
For those using the built-in Mail app from macOS, all of your email attachments are being stored on your machine even if you delete the Mail app. This feature gets rid of all of the recoverable attachments and keeps the ones that have already been modified.
CleanMyMac X will scan and remove any unnecessary files in your Mac's trash folder which stores items that you have previously deleted but are still taking up disk space on your machine.
Carries out an in-depth scan and malware checkup of your Mac computer to ensure that any existing vulnerabilities or malicious files are able to be contained and safely removed.
Malware isn't as common for Mac users. However, with such a large emphasis on students and office use, they are becoming more popular and lucrative for hackers and fraudulent developers.
An easy way to fix your privacy settings, Clean My Mac scans your system for tracking information or elements such as browsing history, cookies, autofill forms, Wi-Fi connections, and other miscellaneous data to be removed. It can also clean up your chat history from popular apps like Skype or modify app permissions.
Scan and configure the launch agents of your apps and login items to ensure that your machine is getting an optimal output by not running anything in the background that you don't need.
Performs Mac maintenance tasks that can be manually carried out, but does it all optimally in one go without the need to have any of the technical skills.
These tasks including freeing up RAM and purgeable space, running maintenance scripts, flushing DNS cache, speeding up mail, reindex spotlight, repair disk permissions, and Time Machine snapshot optimization.
CleanMyMac X's built-in uninstaller can safely remove installed applications easily without any leftover folders, files, or data being left behind.
Allows you to scan your Mac and be sure to get the latest versions of all installed Mac apps. This can be done easily without CleanMyMac X, but the built-in tool saves the need for any manual intervention.
An easy-to-use extensions manager utility for all your Mac system extensions such as plugins, widgets, dictionaries, and more. A nifty feature of this tool is that you can temporarily disable extensions, but not remove them to see how this positively or negatively affects your Mac's performance.
Unique to CleanMyMac X is Space Lens which offers a bird's eye overview of all of your Mac's storage space usage. Space Lens allows you to see which culprits are eating up all your available hard drive space then quickly decide whether or not you can get rid of excessive data from overbearing applications or folders.
Large & Old Files
This utility within CleanMyMac X is pretty self-explanatory as it scans your Mac to see which are the oldest and largest files that you have stored on your machine. It will not automatically delete these, but you have the option to flag those who you don't need anymore for removal.
The Shredder feature within CleanMyMac X is meant for those who want to get rid of a sensitive file or folder safely. This method erases your data in a way that prevents any ability to recover the particular file or folder deleted by the Shredder for maximum security.
Offers real-time health alerts as to your Mac's health including memory use, storage space 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 (such as adding the security and speed elements new to CleanMyMac X), MacPaw has further expanded the value that their software offers. Due to this, the cost per dollar has increased significantly, making it a more worthwhile investment for most users.
CleanMyMac X: Cleaning & Optimization Performance
We can praise the excellent interface and features all we want in this CleanMyMac X review, but if the app doesn't get actual results, then it is not a worthwhile investment or something that should even be installed onto your Mac computer.
The first Mac cleaning results for our first CleanMyMac review were completed many years ago, and we have gone through several Apple computers in different variations of laptop or iMac models.
Unfortunately, this means we don't have that same machine to share the total disk space savings earned through our use of the software since we first posted our initial CleanMyMac review back in 2015.
However, I've been working off a 16″ MacBook Pro with TouchBar for the last year and decided to rerun CleanMyMac X to compare the optimization analysis results against a free CleanMyMac alternative like CCleaner (calculated on the same day within minutes from another without any system changes).
Performance Results vs CCleaner
Smart Scan: 6.36 GB (Safe)
System Junk: 33.3 GB
Mail Attachments: 205.9 MB
Trash Bins: 1.2 MB
Large & Old Files: 86.66 GB
Total Cleaning Potential: 119.85 GB
Cleaner Scan: 8.58 GB
Total Cleaning Potential: 8.58 GB
CleanMyMac X Advantage: 111.27 GB
The reason we included the word safe next to the CleanMyMac X results is since the cleaner tool has identified these files and data could be safely removed without any loss to the system or be risking any private data.
However, this isn't the full story just the Smart Cleanup results. Looking through the results at a deeper level, you can note that the CleanMyMac x discovered a whopping 271.81GB worth of files were filed under ‘Large & Old Files.' These are held for further review before deletion to ensure you don't accidentally remove data that you will need.
If I am not happy with the automated 6.49GB in savings, then I have the option to dig further into the utilities. From there, I can purge more system junk or determine which of the large or outdated files that I no longer need without having to take the time to search for them manually.
This is an excellent example of where MacPaw has designed their CleanMyMac X to be both practical and easy to use for someone who isn't all that tech-savvy. It consistently discovers more junk and unnecessary data to delete than the free CCleaner application and other competing Mac cleaner apps from our testing.
For those who feel comfortable browsing through the large and old files, you can individually select which of them you permit to delete. If you are too nervous to accidentally delete something important (such as photos, games, or work/school documents), you can opt to leave them all on your Mac and just go with the basic smart cleanup used as default through CleanMyMac.
When used correctly and with caution, MacPaw's CleanMyMac X will never delete data that your computer needs or personal files that you wish to keep. This piece of mind is something that I think a lot of consumers seek. Proper computer maintenance is an important yet daunting task to the average consumer in terms of risks if you don't 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 space, memory, battery, and processor activity. It can be easily accessible in the top-right menu bar for quickly accessing this feature.
If you are a heavy multitasker like I am (it is not uncommon for me to have 20 or more Chrome tabs open) then you will find yourself running out of RAM. This was extremely common for me in previous years where I had a MacBook Pro capped at 16GB of RAM.
Fast forward to now, it isn't as big of a deal for me as I am fortunate enough to have a high-spec MacBook Pro with 64GB of RAM. However, I still rely on this feature to free up my inactive RAM on a regular basis and improve overall performance.
Here's a real-world example of how much RAM you can regain in a single click. The screenshots below were taken within a minute of each other and no applications were opened or closed between these periods, the only action that was taken a single click of the ‘Free Up' button under the Memory section:
- Available RAM before pressing ‘Free Up': 7.53 GB
- Available RAM after purging is complete: 36.06 GB
- Net RAM gain: 28.53 GB or 479% more available RAM after 1-click
Don't let this mislead you in that the clearing of inactive memory can be done without CleanMyMac, but this purging process usually carried out through the terminal which is not a comfortable experience for most users.
Having this quick RAM purge available at the top-right menu saves me a bit of time and removes the complexity of carrying this task out manually on a frequent basis.
CleanMyMac X: Will It Run On My Apple Computer?
MacPaw has updated the Clean My Mac software line four times now. With each new version of the optimization program, there are better tweaks to the interface, features, and performance that warrant the upgrade cost.
However, with the newer versions of CleanMyMac comes more advanced hardware and software requirements to ensure it will work properly (just like any other Mac app or software).
Here are the current specifications required to run CleanMyMac X at the time this review was last published (5/28/21):
As users of this Mac cleaner since its initial version way back in 2013 (we've written several updated reviews over the years), we stand behind the CleanMyMac X software that MacPaw has developed. With the newest update, we believe it to be a solid investment for most Mac users who are reading this review.
- Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher (how to check Mac OS X version)
- At least 50MB of free hard drive space to operate
If you own any Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.9 or earlier, then you'll have to upgrade to a newer version of Apple's operating system (free in most cases) or get CleanMyMac Classic instead which still caters to older generations of Mac.
As long as you meet the minimum system requirements for CleanMyMac X, it does not matter whether or not you have a MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, or iMac. They will all work the same for freeing up storage space and malware prevention using the CleanMyMac app.
While it has a few downsides like a premium license fee, CleanMyMac X does a better job optimizing and cleaning up unnecessary data on our Mac computers than any other Mac cleaning software we have tested whether it is free or paid alternatives. In addition, you get access to malware scanning and removal making it a no-brainer for most users who wish to keep their Mac performing optimally over a long-term period.
MacPaw's desire to produce software with such an elegant, easy-to-use interface while being able to free up space through the safety of routine data removal without deleting system or private files makes this software a real winner in our book. CleanMyMac X allows you to keep your Mac running smoothly at an affordable price with great convenience.