If your Mac is slowing down, frequently freezing, regularly running out of RAM or just not behaving like it used to, then it probably needs a clean. No, we don't mean you need to get a cloth out and dust it. What you need is a Mac cleaner app that will delete the clutter and digital debris from your system and free your RAM from memory hogs.
Thankfully, there are a wealth of tools available to rectify that can clean up your Mac and get it working properly again. We've picked some of the best clean-up apps for Mac below so you can find one that suites you.
The apps included in the list below all offer free trial versions. Some of these trials will merely show you how much space you can free up, but there are a few that will actually allow you to make space on your Mac for free. These include the trials for Parallels ToolBox and MacCleaner Pro featured below.
While normally the fact that an app is in the Mac App Store would mean that it has been heavily vetted by Apple, and therefore we would recommend it as safe, there has been a case of an app - specifically one used for cleaning your Mac - being found to be stealing data from machines. The app, Dr Cleaner, was found to be collecting data from Macs and sending it to a specific address. Apple has since removed it from the store. We recommend that anyone using Dr Cleaner should stop doing so now.
- Buy from MacPaw
CleanMyMac X is a suite of powerful tools to optimize and protect a Mac computer. The software includes 49 instruments that deal with the most common issues Mac users face every day. CleanMyMac X deletes hidden junk and malware, and optimizes the Mac for maximum speed.
£34.95/$39.95 a year (discounts available regularly). Free trial available.
A heavy hitter in the clean-sweep stakes is CleanMyMac X by MacPaw. It's £34.95/$39.95 for a one year subscription for one Mac, but is currently discounted often discounted to around £30/$30. You can also buy the software outright for a slightly higher price if you don't fancy getting into a subscription.
This popular utility gathers a number of useful tools all in one package, including a file cleaner that will delete junk and unnecessary cache files, optimisation and maintenance tools, an application uninstaller (so that you delete all the files that the app scatters around your Mac) and a malware remover.
It has a simple layout that offers a variety of functions. These include a general system clean that optimises space by removing temporary files that could be lingering, as well as slimming down unnecessary elements of applications and removing any odds and ends left behind after uninstalls.
There's also the ability to search through your Photos, Music, and Mail folders to remove and clean up waifs and strays that could be slowing down your system.
CleanMyMac is a comprehensive package, which offers several additional tools for uninstalling apps cleanly, removing various extensions, improving disk performance, and digitally shredding files that you don't want anyone to revive.
We have been using CleanMyMac since we had to delete a lot of files in order to install Big Sur, one of our favourite features is that fact that the tool sits in the menu at the top of the screen so we can see a simple overview of our system at all times, which also means its a simple one-click process to free up memory when RAM is getting low.
All of this functionality doesn't come free though. There is a free trial version available on the Mac App Store and from MacPaw's website, but it restricts the app to only remove files up to a maximum of 500MB - and in the middle of deleting files it will demand you pay the license fee for the app. You can download that limited version and scan your Mac to see just now much space you can save before committing to buying the app.
The license can be transferred to a new machine, so long as the previous installation is deactivated first.
MacPaw is currently running a 30% discount for students - submit your university email address and receive a download code here.
Parallels sells a bunch of tools that can be used to perform various actions on your Mac - such as Download Video, Record Audio, Hide Desktop Files, Resize Image, Clipboard History, Find Duplicates, Free Memory, and even the ability to set alarms. Among all these tools on offer is one that can be used to clean your Mac.
Mac cleaning tools provided in the Toolbox that could also be useful when cleaning a Mac include: Clean Drive, Uninstall Apps, Find Duplicates, and Free Memory. The Clean Drive tool scans your drive and then lets you choose what to delete.
You can delete applications by dragging them to the trash, but this doesn't always completely delete them. Often files and folders can be left scattered around your system that were related to that now gone app. Parallels's Uninstall Apps tool will remove apps and their associated files from your Mac.
Similarly you can run Find Duplicates to dig out any identical files - even ones that have different file names.
Parallel's Toolbox costs £15.99/$19.99 a year, but the excellent news is that the free 7-day trial will actually delete your files, free memory and do all those other useful things without you buying the app!
You can get an overview of Toolbox's various features, and download the seven-day trial, from the company's website.
£39.95/$44.95 here, a free trial is available
MacCleaner Pro from Nektony is actually a suite of six applications developed to clean up and speed up your Mac. It offers tools to find and remove duplicate files and folders and also offers the ability to merge similar folders. It will also safely and completely uninstall apps.
In the bundle is MacCleaner Pro (for deleting those extra files), App Cleaner & Uninstaller (which we discuss separately here), Disk Space Anazlyzer Pro, Duplicate File Finder Pro, Memory Cleaner (to clear inactive RAM), and the Funter tool (to find hidden files and folders).
The free trial version of the will actually perform some of the tasks you need to do, rather than ask you to buy the full version. With the full version of MacCleaner Pro you can delete junk files and files occupying significant disk space, free up memory and it will help you manage disk space.
For the latter the app will show you an easy to understand overview of all the files you can remove from your Mac, so you can decide whether or not to delete particularly large files that the system shows up.
If you want to find duplicate files, uninstall applications or analyse disk usage you will need the Pro tools, which you have to pay for.
Free, with £9.99/$9.99 Pro upgrade
Also from Nektony, is the simple and easy to use App Cleaner & Installer. This lightweight app is actually bundled with MacCleaner Pro (above), but this free version alone does a good job of clearing out the broken links, files, and other gubbins that get left behind when apps are uninstalled.
It also, as the name suggests, allows you to uninstall apps cleanly from the get-go, and set which ones launch at start up.
The free version does most of these tasks, but if you pay £9.99/$9.99 for the Pro upgrade you'll also be able to remove system extensions, executable parts of files, and uninstall apps, plus the ads that adorn the free version disappear.
Easy to recommend due to both its price and quality.
If all you need is to make some space on your Mac (perhaps because you are trying to update the macOS and it needs more space than you have) then you could go for a tool that simply finds and deletes unnecessary files for you. If this sounds like you then DaisyDisk (£9.99/$9.99 on the Mac App Store) is an excellent tool for seeing the contents of your drive in a colourful and interactive graph.
The files are sorted into various groups such as Large files, Documents, Music, and Downloads, each of which are allocated their own colours and spokes that show how much space that area is taking up.
It's a good at-a-glance method for understanding where all your space has gone. Each section can be clicked to bring up another circular breakdown of its contents, with each sector representing a file. These can be previewed to see whether you want them or not, and if it's a case of the latter then you simply drag them to the bottom of the screen where all your junk files are stored.
We're not actually sure if this is any easier to understand than Apple's own method of showing you how much space the different types of data on your Mac are taking up - you can see this if you click on the Apple logo > About This Mac > Storage.
But the point of DaisyDisk is that it will delete the files you don't need for you - rather than you trying to locate them. A job that could take hours takes minutes and there is no danger of deleting something important.
If you visit the DaisyDisk site then you'll be able to download a trial version that shows you how the app works. This is useful, but as the delete feature has been disabled you won't be able to clear out any files. Instead, go for the full-blown version which costs £9.99/$9.99 - at least that's not a yearly subscription.
Now in version 8, MacBooster is a powerful app that not only offers the standard disk clean-up features like removing duplicates, scanning for large files, claiming back memory, and general performance enhancing duties, but also includes Virus and Malware scans to keep your Mac free from malicious software.
As you can see, it has a similar interface to CleanMyMac X (above), and a similar collection of tools. The benefit here is that there's one price to pay, rather than a yearly subscription. We also found that MacBooster identified a few more files for deletion than CleanMyMac did.
While it's certainly a comprehensive suite, the power under-the-hood could prove a little too much for beginners. We'd also heavily recommend, as with any app in this roundup, that you make a complete backup of your system before you begin deleting files.
A trial of MacBooster 8 is available, but if you want to delete anything you will have to buy the app - it costs $39.95 (around £33) for single Mac license or $59.95 (around £49) for three Macs.
For more ways to squeeze the most out of your system read our How to speed up a slow Mac guide and How to delete Other on a Mac. We also look at How to delete System storage and How to delete cache on a Mac.