Home > Misc., OSX, Reviews > MacCleaner – Too clean?

MacCleaner – Too clean?

The other day, I went looking online for a nice, freeware program that would help get rid of unneeded files on my mac. I’d been organizing things on it lately and I figured that was the next step. So I ended up coming across MacCleaner. (EDIT: Original maccleaner site seems to have been taken down. You may have trouble getting a “registration key”. You still might be able to find the app with a google search, though.)

That’s the main scan menu of the program, and as you can probably see it’s very nice visually. From there you can either do a quick scan, a full scan, or a custom scan. A full scan is recommended by the program on the first run, but actually, “full” and “quick” are a bit of a misnomer; the “full” scan is incredibly quick itself, taking only 5-10 minutes to scan my mac’s hard disk which contains almost 80GB of data and files.

First thing’s first, though; you have to register the program. According to the site, “until you register, your will be using a Demo version of MacCleaner, which doesn’t give you an access to all the software’s features.” Fear not though! Registration costs nary a penny. I said this was freeware and I wouldn’t lie to you. All you have to do to register, is sign up at their forums (pretty sneaky way to get members, but effective nevertheless). You’ll get a PM immediately upon your login with the activation code, and you’ve only to enter it on the registration page of the program and you’re done.

As I mentioned, the scan itself, even the full scan, is incredibly quick. The program scans many areas including caches, temporary internet files, cookies, universal binaries, and not used localizations, to name a few.

As you can see, the scan page is also very graphical, with red squares representing useless files and green squares representing the opposite. It also has a readout of all the categories of useless files as well as the total amount of “wasted space”. Of course, this amount is more than the actual amount you’ll free, unless you throw caution to the wind and let the program remove everything it found.

That brings me to my next point of discussion – removing too much. With any cleaner program, there is always the risk of removing too much and getting rid of files you’ll actually need. To protect yourself against this sort of thing, make sure you know what “not used localizations” and “universal binaries” actually are, as well as the other options, or you could just end up with non-functioning programs or the inability to do something in the future for which you would have needed those files. For example, you could delete a cookie that lets you log in to a website for which you don’t remember your password. Of course most websites have a “forgot your password” option, but I’m just trying to provide an example…give me a break, will ya?

Upon doing some research in the MacCleaner support forums, I found that there have been quite a few reports of losing all of one’s emails. However, there have been some updates to the program since then, so it is very possible that the developers have made changes to the program to prevent inadvertent loss of emails. Again, just make sure you know what you’re doing before you do it. Note that email isn’t really at risk if you use imap, since in that case your email program will just be reading off the server. Still, before any sort of cleaning program, you should make sure you have sufficient backup. I recommend an external hard drive or at least a usb drive in which you backup only your most important files.

Anyways, back to the program. My personal experience has been a not-so-positive one. When I run the scan, and then choose to remove the standard categories of “useless files”, at that point for some reason my mac’s keychain will go completely blank. The first time it happened I freaked out a bit, thinking that all my stored passwords were gone (including some that I probably wouldn’t remember anymore), but I had the idea to reboot and when it came back on the keychain was repopulated again with all my old passwords. I tried it again today, and the same thing happened (including the fix after rebooting), but I don’t know if I want to keep tempting fate.

The first time I ran, I’d say it was probably worth it, since I had (according to the program) over a gigabyte in wasted space due to “not used localizations”. The second time, however, it was only about 1/2 gigabyte. Still worthwhile in a general sense, but not worth risking losing my passwords, in my own humble opinion. You can make your own decisions, though.

If you want to download the program, simply go to the MacCleaner website. Good luck!

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