Keeping your Mac in top shape can be hard over time, as various clutter and digital debris begin to take residence on your system. Thankfully, there are a wealth of tools available to rectify this malady and get your iMac or MacBook back in fine fettle once more. We gather together some of the best clean-up utilities for macOS.
First a word of warning. 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 | Look inside your macOS
Find hidden junk, large old folders, background apps, and heavy memory consumers. Use CleanMyMac X to free up space on your Mac and tune it for maximum speed. The new version effectively blocks adware, browser pop-ups, and virus extensions.
One heavy hitter in the clean-sweep stakes is CleanMyMac by MacPaw, £29.95/$39.95. This popular utility that comes from a stable of useful tools all in one package, including a macOS cleaner, performance monitor and 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 parts of applications and removing any odds and ends left behind after uninstalls.
There’s also the ability to search through your Photos, iTunes, 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.
All of this functionality doesn’t come free though. There is a free trial version available, but it restricts the app to only remove files up to a maximum of 500MB, so you’ll want the full version and that will set you back £29.95/$39.95 for a single license here.
The license can be transferred to a new machine, so long as the previous installation is deactivated first.
MacPaw does run promotions regularly, so check its webstore for deals.
If you’re more of a visual person, then DaisyDisk (£9.99/$9.99) 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.
When your pruning is complete, hit the Delete button and they will be dispatched without a hint of mercy.
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.
This powerful app 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.
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.
MacBooster 7 is available on a free 14-day trial, but after that it costs $39.95 (around £33) for single Mac license or $59.95 (around £49) for three Macs.
Parallels sells a bunch of tools that can be used to perform various actions on your Mac. A number of the tools on offer can be used to clean your Mac.
Parallel's Toolbox costs £15.99 a year, and offers a collection of useful tools. You can read about Toolbox's various features, and download a seven-day trial, from the company's website here.
Mac cleaning tools provided in the Toolbox that could also be useful when cleaning a Mac include: Clean Drive, Uninstall Apps, Find Duplicates, Free Memory.
Parallels says the Clean Drive tool will "Keep your Mac clutter-free and running at max speed." The 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.
Free Memory is also a useful tool that can free up your computer memory.
App Cleaner & Uninstaller
Finally, there’s the simple and easy to use App Cleaner & Installer from Nektony. This lightweight app 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.
For more ways to squeeze the most out of your system read our How to speed up a slow Mac guide.