CleanMyMac X is an all-in-one optimization, security & mac cleaning software.
Disclosure: This review is NOT sponsored by CleanMyMac X or MacPaw. All opinions and thoughts expressed within this review had no bias or outside influence. We may earn an affiliate commission on referred sales, but content integrity and quality is our top priority.
Based on using MacPaw's CleanMyMac X since its original release (we originally reviewed it back in 2013), this software comes highly recommended to our readers. The interface is sleek and easy to use with no knowledge towards Macintosh maintenance or complicated terminal commands required.
Like any free or paid optimization software, it does have the possibility to cause harm if you carelessly delete all your files without verifying which ones you wish to keep. However, CleanMyMac X is specifically designed not to do this, and you'd have to go against its default conditions to delete sensitive data (free optimization software won't be this gentle).
Ultimately CleanMyMac X will allow you to keep your MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or iMac running as smoothly as possible and efficiently using its allocated resources despite the age of your machine.
A Great Buy
The Ideal Buyer
CleanMyMac X is an excellent buy for any Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, or iMac owner who wants to improve performance from their Mac computer. CleanMyMac's primary strength comes the lack of complicated knowledge required for self-maintenance. There is an affordable license cost required, but a free trial is available for testing. The price will pay for itself through productivity when compared to a Mac plagued by slow performance.
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 This may include outdated cache files, leftover Mac OS X logs, old mail attachments, extra application binaries, or broken app data.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.
If you find yourself with any lingering questions about CleanMyMac X or another Mac cleaner after reading this review, then use the comments section below this article. Our team will be in contact as soon as possible to help clear any lingering questions or concerns
It is essential to be careful of the integrity behind of all CleanMyMac X reviews found online (such as on Google). Rest assured, all opinions expressed in this article come from our use of CleanMyMac without outside perspectives or bias coming into play.
MacPaw Company Overview
Oleksandr Kosovan founded MacPaw in June of 2008 and remains the CEO and owner. The company is headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine. MacPaw also has a team working in Santa Clara, California.
MacPaw focuses on app development for both the Mac (CleanMyMac) and Windows (CleanMyPC) platforms. Their software is designed to help consumers solve common issues with optimization and security.
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. In January of 2018, MacPaw launched Setapp, which has been called the “Netflix of Mac Apps.” This subscription allows you to download and use 100+ popular Mac apps for one low monthly price (including CleanMyMac X).
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.
Upgrade Fee For Older Versions of CleanMyMac 1, 2 or 3
- Upgrade to the newest generations for 50% off the standard licensing cost after proof of an existing MacPaw product license
Alternative Option: Setapp Monthly Subscription
If you are planning on utilizing a lot of Mac apps, you may want to look into MacPaw's new Setapp subscription. To describe Setapp best, it would be like signing up for 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.
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. 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 ours here.
CleanMyMac X: Will It Run On My Apple Computer?
MacPaw has updated the CleanMyMac software line four times now. With each new version of the optimization program, 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 ensure it will work properly (just like any other Mac app or software).
Here are the current specifications required to run CleanMyMac X:
- Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher (how to check Mac OS X version)
- At least 50MB of free disk 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.
Is CleanMyMac Safe To Use?
The idea of using any cleaning software is a very controversial subject in the Mac community. You'll often 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. This attack 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 leniency causes them to favor removing the most amount of data and freeing up the most hard disk space as possible. While that sounds like a good thing, these software do not worry about the sensitivity and importance of the files that will be removed.
MacPaw has realized this dilemma from the start. Their team developed their CleanMyMac app to efficiently scan your Mac's hard drive to safely and accurately log which files are safe to remove. CleanMyMac will then flag potential valuable data for further evaluation before optimizing.
They can accomplish this through the use of a proprietary safety database comprised of operational rules and exceptions to avoid any cleaning mistakes. CleanMyMac will reference this updated list every time it runs a cleanup or optimization to ensure the smoothest result without any surprises.
Additionally, CleanMyMac X will prompt 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 data that are critical to the macOS operating system.
Are There Any Free CleanMyMac Alternatives?
While we have found a lot of value in the performance and convenience of MacPaw's CleanMyMac X 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 CleanMyMac X will often be less user-friendly, and the potential of deleting valuable files is more prevalent unless you are careful or know what you are doing.
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 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 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' function.
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 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 file categories. You can 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 not the essential element of a Mac app, it leaves 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 an optimization application.
Fortunately, MacPaw has mastered the art of designing a user interface, and CleanMyMac X'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 uses 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 contains 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 X while maintaining 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 review as they may contain important files
- Will automatically log large and old files for manual review and deletion to identify potential unnecessary files taking up space and preventing the accidental removal of critical data (to scan duplicate files, you'll need MacPaw's Gemini 2 app)
- Support for Mail, iTunes, Skype, iMessage and Photos apps that can detect and remove cached files, trash bins, caches, incomplete downloads, iTunes junk, unneeded backups, and previous updates to clear up more space on your hard drive
- Instantly remove personal information like browsing history as well as online and offline activity (you can also use a VPN for Mac for aiding in this)
- Remove any malicious files or applications
- Scan and secure your machine through an updated database of known vulnerabilities and threats for improved security
- Dedicated application uninstaller offers the complete removal of applications without leaving any unnecessary files behind
- Speed up your Mac via spotlight reindexing, repairing disk permissions, running maintenance scripts and performing 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
- 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 (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 review, but if CleanMyMac X doesn't get actual results, then it is not a worthwhile investment or something that should even be installed onto your Mac computer.
Performance Test (10/29/18)
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 laptops and iMacs.
Unfortunately, this means we don't have that same machine to share the total 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 MacBook Pro with TouchBar for the last two year and decided to rerun CleanMyMac X 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).
After completing these tests, we have determined the order of effectiveness:
|Winner - CleanMyMac X||16.24 GB (Safe)|
|CCleaner (Free Version)||11.38 GB|
|MacOS Sierra Optimize Storage||4.38 GB|
The reason we included the word safe next to the CleanMyMac X 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 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 16.24GB in savings, then I have the option to dig further into that section. From there, I can determine which of the large and old 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 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 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.
When used correctly and with caution, MacPaw's CleanMyMac Xx 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, 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 Chrome tabs open) then you will find yourself running out of RAM quickly even with my MacBook Pro that has relatively high specs.
In my case, I regularly use this CleanMyMac X feature to clear out any inactive RAM that is being still being occupied thus being able to secure more RAM (equaling faster performance) to use for my present processes:
- Available RAM before pressing ‘Free Up': 731 MB or 0.71 GB
- Available RAM after purging is complete: 6758.4 MB or 6.6 GB
- Net RAM gain: 5.89 GB or 36% more available RAM after 1-click
Don't let me confuse 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 bar saves me a bit of time and removes the complexity of carrying this task out manually.
As users of this Mac cleaner since its initial version way back in 2013, 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.
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 software we have tested including MacKeeper, CCleaner and MacOS Sierra's ‘Optimize Storage' feature. In addition, you get access to malware scanning and removal making it a no-brainer for most Mac owners.
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.
As 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 services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.