Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $39.95+
CleanMyMac X app overview
MacPaw

MacPaw’s CleanMyMac X is a one-stop-shop app that keeps your Mac spick-and-span even if you’re not keen on getting under the software hood yourself. The user-friendly UI makes its host of features a breeze to utilize when you need to and easy to hide away when you don’t. Here’s what you should know.

Here's What We Like

  • Suite of features
  • Clean UI
  • Functionality transparency
  • Quick and efficient

And What We Don't

  • Malware removal tool

When was the last time you cleared out your Mac’s storage? If the answer is anything short of weekly, you’d benefit from the simple-to-use sanitization of CleanMyMac X. Click a few buttons, get a clean Mac.

Setup and User Interface: Neat and Tidy

To set up CleanMyMac X, download the installer from MacPaw for free and drag the .dmg file to your Applications folder. Wait for it to finish installing, then run CleanMyMac X.

With the beautifully-crafted and easy-to-navigate UI (User Interface) in front of you, setup is nearly complete (and already finished if you’re using the free version). If you have a license to activate, do so by clicking the Unlock Full Version button. Now select Activate Now and enter the license key you received—if you’re interested but have yet to buy the full version, click Buy Plan to browse current deals and prices (more on this later).

You’re all set up and ready to spruce up your Mac. Similar “cleanup” apps tend to veer off into complicated and shady software practices, failing to inform you of what they’re doing to your personal computer. CleanMyMac X is far on the other end of the spectrum.

It gives you an overview of what each feature does and allows you to dive deeper into the details if you so desire. You can see exactly what CleanMyMac X is removing, installing, or updating, and opt-out of any of it with the tick of a checkbox. Of course, if you’d rather forego the reading and just click one button to have your Mac cleaned and optimized, you can do that too.

Tip: Some CleanMyMacX operations require you to grant full disk access to the app (this is optional). You can do so by clicking Grant Access and following the on-screen instructions.

I also appreciate the straightforward, clearly visible navigation menu that sits atop the application. CleanMyMac X never feels like a maze you’re trying to find your way through; you know exactly where you are and what you’re using at any given time.

For even further ease of use, when the application window is minimized, you can use the CleanMyMac X icon on your Mac’s top toolbar to monitor your Mac’s health performance and storage (this is easy to hide or close and non-invasive of other screen elements).

Feature Overview: Everything You Need and Then Some

The suite of functionality in CleanMyMac X is impressive. This isn’t just a piece of software that clears your temporary files and browsing history and then claims your Mac is faster by an order of magnitude.

CleanMyMac X can help you update your macOS version and applications, clear RAM, remove pesky apps that try to stay open in background processes, and much more all from one UI. If you’re not sure what you should start with, consult the Assistant in the top-right corner for suggestions.

Smart Scan

“Smart Scan” is your one-click clean-up tool. Click Scan and let CleanMyMac X work its magic. The app will see what it can do to clean up your disk space, protect your Mac from any potential threats it’s facing, and speed up its performance.

Clicking on any of the icons will generate further details about the actions that will take place when you click Run.

Smart Scan is best for a quick weekly cleanup to make sure your Mac stays in tip-top condition—if you want more in-depth cleaning, see the other tabs.

Cleanup

“System Junk” aims to speed up your Mac by removing temporary files (user cache files, system log files, etc.) and resolving bugs that slow it down. As with most other processes on CleanMyMac X, you just click Scan, Review Details if you want to, then select Clean to free up disk space.

“Mail Attachments” clears up the email downloads and attachments stored on your local machine (any attachments will still be available via your inbox) to make room on your drive.

“Trash Bins” empties out the files you’ve moved to various trash bins but haven’t cleared yet. These are still taking up storage space on your Mac—get rid of them in two clicks with CleanMyMac X.

Protection

“Malware Removal” scours your Mac for any unusual or malicious activity and provides a full report of every file it deems suspicious. After scanning my Mac, one single threat was detected. Immediately interested and somewhat concerned, I checked the full report to discover the nasty, barbaric cyber weapon unleashed on my MacBook Pro 2016…it was Adobe Flash Player’s install file.

While the malware tool picked up something harmless on its radar, I would rather it mark an innocent app as potentially dangerous than fail to inform me when a real threat appears. Still, if you’re concerned, you may want to look into running another antivirus app for your Mac.

“Privacy” takes care of your online footprint by clearing browser history, allowing you to edit application permissions (do you know what apps are allowed to access your camera?), displaying all cookies from every browser you use, and performing other similar functions.

I’m a big fan of how much control CleanMyMac X gives you during cleaning. If you want to delete all saved cookies from Safari, you can click one button and do so. But if there are just a few you want to get rid of, scroll through the list and tick off individual items.

Speed

“Optimization” monitors the applications that run on startup, helping you disable any that have become particularly bothersome. It also aggregates apps that consume vast amounts of processing power, known as “Heavy Consumers.” If any apps are significantly slowing your Mac down, they’ll show up here.

“Maintenance” is an extremely useful tab and somewhat unique to CleanMyMac X. Here, you can free up RAM, run maintenance scripts that rotate system logs, re-index Spotlight Search, repair disk errors, and more. Read through the tooltips to decide what processes are best to run on your Mac.

Applications

“Uninstaller” breaks down all of the apps on your Mac by how much you use them, what platform they come from (App Store, Steam, etc.), and which vendor distributes them. It also shows “leftovers,” which are file remnants from apps you’ve previously uninstalled. You can then completely remove these apps or leftovers from one tab to reclaim your disk space.

“Updater” checks for any version mismatches between applications on your local machine and the latest edition on the App Store. If anything is out of date, you can update it here.

“Extensions” keeps tabs of your Spotlight Search plugins, Safari extensions, preference panes, and shared internet plugins. If you recently installed an extension that makes accessing your browser a headache, you can safely disable it using this tool.

Files

“Space Lens” scans your drive and shows you which apps and files are taking up the most space on your Mac. Broken down into folders like “Applications” and “System,” it’s easy to jump into different portions of storage and clear out the cobwebs.

“Large & Old Files” is similar to Space Lens but it displays files you haven’t touched for considerable amounts of time. Instead of letting these forgotten files take up storage space, get rid of them with CleanMyMac X. Again, this section is sorted into helpful folders like “Archives,” “Documents,” “One Year Ago,” etc. to help you find your way around your drive.

“Shredder” completely removes any data you deem unwanted, leaving no traces behind. This is a straightforward, handy tool for making sure you free up as much disk space as possible when deleting large applications or folders.

Performance, Results, and Comparison

My MacBook Pro 2016 uses a 500GB Hard Drive (HDD). HDDs aren’t exactly the fastest by data read/write standards. Still, CleanMyMac X works quickly and efficiently to sift through your data, read what it needs to, and ignore what it doesn’t.

You have control over how much disk access you provide to CleanMyMac X, and you can change it at any time. If you want to grant full disk access to run a specific module like “Mail Attachments,” you can enable it temporarily and disable it as soon as the process completes. In that case, CleanMyMac X wouldn’t have full disk access for long: this app is fast.

Some operations take longer, like Smart Scan (which runs multiple processes concurrently), but most scanned and cleared up my Mac within 60 seconds. No one wants freeing up disk space to become a multi-hour-long ordeal, which is what makes CleanMyMac X’s segmented processes so convenient—if you know you only need to shred a few old files, there’s no need to waste time sifting through your Safari cookies.

I tend to take decent care of my Mac, so it wasn’t slow to begin with. I didn’t notice any major speed improvements after running CleanMyMac X because of this—but I did clear up over 11GB of disk space, get a better understanding of what my online privacy footprint looks like, and gain confidence that my Mac is running nearly as smooth as it possibly can.

As for a comparison to similar applications, CleanMyMac X stands out for a few reasons. Mac “cleanup” apps aren’t new, there are plenty available on the market. But where I find most of them lose my interest and garner suspicion is in how little they inform the user of what process their app is running at any given time.

Take MacCleaner Pro, for example. A decent all-around app for your Mac, but it’s not clear what’s going on in the background to speed or clean up your computer.

CleanMyMac X is the opposite, and I laud their transparency in this regard. I haven’t come across a similar app that matches CleanMyMac X’s level of simplicity, efficiency, and lucidity.

Should You Buy CleanMyMac X?

I recommend CleanMyMac X if you don’t regularly sift through and curate your data manually. If you want to click a button or two and have more space on your Mac, CleanMyMac X is certainly the app to get it done. You’ll also know exactly what’s going on with your machine every step of the way thanks to helpful tooltips, a built-in assistant, and a progress meter.

There are a couple of payment methods for CleanMyMac X: there’s a 1-year subscription plan starting at $39.95 for 1 Mac device, and a one-time purchase plan starting at $89.95 for 1 Mac. You can also purchase plans to cover two or five Mac devices in either subscription or one-time purchase form. You can also give the free version a try, which limits functionality but gives you a decent overall feel of CleanMyMac X.

Be sure to check if you can apply any discounts, MacPaw runs some solid deals. For example, if you’re switching over from another scrubbing app, you can take 40% off your order. If you can snag a discount, it’s absolutely worth a one-time purchase for a consistently-clean Mac in my mind.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $39.95+

Here’s What We Like

  • Suite of features
  • Clean UI
  • Functionality transparency
  • Quick and efficient

And What We Don't

  • Malware removal tool

Profile Photo for Marcus Mears III Marcus Mears III
Marcus Mears III is the Reviews Editor for How-To Geek and Review Geek. He’s a lifelong technology enthusiast with over three years of experience developing prose that keeps readers in the know. With hundreds of articles across a number of tech publications like MakeUseOf and iGeeksBlog, Mears’ work helps readers around the globe learn to make the most of their devices and software.
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