When Spring Cleaning first appeared back in late 1996, it hardly set the Mac world alight. Its functionality was already on offer from shareware products though in the handy format of a single package. Aladdin Systems appears to have taken the criticisms onboard and, through the last two years, the eight modules have grown to 11 and the user interface has seen some dramatic changes.
In essence, Spring Cleaning comprises 11 searches, each of which brings up files of a particular nature. While only one of these searches is new to this version (File Checker), here’s a quick rundown of the lot. MacUninstaller finds all of an application’s related files for a clean uninstall while Font Remover lists every font on your system, in use or otherwise. Help Remover finds all help files on your hard disk; Fat App Slimmer removes non-PowerPC code from applications; and Alias Fixer tracks down all broken aliases. File Checker checks the integrity of all files, warning of any corruptions, Document Finder finds documents of the same file type for better filing, and Empty Folder Remover and Duplicates Remover are self-explanatory. Orphan Adopter brings up files that no longer have their parent application on your system, and Orphaned Preference Remover does the same with preference files. A pretty comprehensive bunch of search functions.
After running a search, all items that fit the criteria are displayed in a window. A variety of actions are available, from simple delete, duplicate or move through to assign parent, which changes the file creator, and move to storage folder. The latter is useful as decisions on awkward files can be made at the end of a session or the whole lot trashed with the Storage Items Remover function.
Spring Cleaning 3 offers two real improvements, the first being the user interface. Gone are the never-ending confirmation dialogue boxes and the continuous hunting through menus for facilities: Spring Cleaning 3 now boasts an almost comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts. The second improvement is key to the way you use Spring Cleaning: Restore. Any decision made that resulted in files being duplicated or moved can be reversed – if you lose the plot, you can always start again, though any function resulting in a deletion is irreversible. Another enhancement is the accessibility of invisible files in the results window, particularly useful when uninstalling a package that has kindly placed various concealed items in the System Folder.
In use, the whole program feels faster, ripping through searches in no time at all. However, there are some odd anomalies – for instance, Orphan Adopter’s list of 1,200 items included Oxford University Press’s TrueType fonts and the entire list of modem profiles, while Orphaned Preference Remover brought over 800 items to my attention including Beyond Press 4, Cubase 3, Snapz Pro and Xenofex (all still installed) plus some System items such as Find File. While the ‘Exclude from Future Searches’ facility is useful when such oddities occur, some functions should carry a computer health warning as wholesale deletion could lead to a very unhappy situation, especially as some applications store your serial number in their preferences file!
Used carefully, Spring Cleaning 3 is one powerful file cleaner. For instance, using the Fat App Slimmer on a dozen applications saved some 25MB of hard disk space while File Checker warned of three files with damaged resource forks. Anyone who already owns a decent selection of commercial and shareware utilities could live without Spring Cleaning 3. Still, the almost exhaustive nature of the searches coupled with the speed of use, restore facility, price and free copy of Aladdin’s Desktop Magician make the full package a lot more tempting than its previous incarnations.