MacKeeper 5 full review
MacKeeper is a familiar and somewhat controversial name in the Mac world. In the past it was used in many third-party affiliate marketing efforts that gave it a bad reputation, but fortunately that’s now tech history.
Now, it’s run by new management and it has independent approval from Apple as well as independent test labs including AV-Test, which gave it a 6 out of 6 score for both performance and protection.
Installation of MacKeeper is very simple; once the software is in place you can walk through the different options for scanning, cleaning and so on, one by one. Where you need to authorise the software in System Preferences you’re given instructions and even buttons that take you to the right System Preferences pane.
MacKeeper is presented as a set of different features within a single interface. The Find & Fix process, which runs on launch, is a set of scans that cover four areas. These are cleaning, for finding and removing junk and duplicate files; security, for finding and eradicating virus, malware and unwanted software (browser search tool hacks and so on); privacy, which checks and monitors databases of password leaks against your email; and performance, which involves spotting software with available updates or useless login items.
A ‘Memory Cleaner’ option reclaims RAM left claimed by software that’s no longer running, and Private Connect adds a VPN for helping you stay secure on public Wi-Fi.
MacKeeper is a very easy tool to use; it’s well organised and the various features are clear and functional. The left section of the main window lists the tools, grouped into the four categories, and the middle presents options for the current feature in use.
On the right of the window there’s a chat-style panel that presents a series of tips and comments. It’s a little heavy on the marketing but it does make some useful suggestions. You can use this to connect to remote tech support staff if you want specific help, otherwise you can hide it.
Most issues it finds can be fixed for you with a few clicks, and things are presented in very user-friendly ways. The ability to alert when your email is found in password hack lists is a very handy extra, and it spotted a larger number of these than we expected.
You’ll have to fix any leaked passwords yourself, but it offers links to the relevant sites to help you get started.
Some of MacKeeper’s features are nice to have but aren’t quite as feature-packed as standalone equivalents. A prime example if the Private Connect VPN, but all the same those are undeniably handy extras.
Other extras include a duplicate file finder, a tool to free up hard drive space and the ability to track your Mac’s location and lock it if necessary.
Scans are performed in full each time rather than looking for new files only, but scanning for unwanted items was reasonably quick. MacKeeper was good at spotting potentially risky software including within compromised installers.
Our selection of adware, browser hijack and actual viruses were identified and the quarantine and deletion process proved effective.
There are very few settings available to control the details of how MacKeeper works. This helps keep things very easy to understand, but some may wish for more; there’s no throttle control for background scanning, for example.
Much of the time that wasn’t an issue, but we did notice occasionally significant performance hits from time to time, often after a reboot, that related to the real-time antivirus scanning or the once-daily regular scan feature.
If it gets annoying, those can be disabled and MacKeeper used to scan files, folders or disks on demand, but that does mean foregoing automatic protection.
Price & Availability
MacKeeper 5 costs £89.40/$89.40 for a one-year ‘family plan’ deal that covers three Macs. For single users, the regular annual price is £71.40/$71.40. Unusually, MacKeeper displays monthly pricing like a VPN service, and offers protection by the month if you really want protection for such a short amount of time.
But as with VPN services, if you go for a year’s protection you pay it all up front. At the time of writing a 30% discount was available, bringing the family plan down to £62.40/$62.40 for the first year.
While it’s not the cheapest security tool around it’s easy to use and it offers a range of benefits.
See alternatives in our roundup of the best Mac antivirus.