MacMost Now 722: Do You Need a Mac Cleaning Program?

Mac cleaning apps are being advertised heavily across the Internet. But do you need these programs? Some of what they do is already being done by OS X. And most of the rest is simply an effort to remove a small number of files from your drive and give you more drive space. But you can do better by archiving projects and keeping your documents tidy on your own.

Comments: 47 Responses to “MacMost Now 722: Do You Need a Mac Cleaning Program?”

    Scott Z
    7 years ago

    Thanks for giving it to us straight weather popular or not. Good job Gary.

      7 years ago

      Thanks. I expect this video will generate some controversy. And I may lose some ads. But I think it is important for me to give honest advice.

        Gary
        7 years ago

        Ballsy of you to speak with such candor, considering you might lose some of your advertisers. However, we appreciate your honesty and someone who gives it to us straight, rather than blowing smoke up our butts, will earn our loyalty and respect. Thanks for being a straight-shooter.

    GJGalik
    7 years ago

    Who knew? Amazes me that Apple has never really given guidance in this area – but all the ‘buy this app to clean’ folks have. But, after running MacKeeper it certainly is a good feeling to know you did something to clean up the Mac. On a recent troubleshoot call to Apple, the attendant ran me through a procedure to locate and clean every cache file on my mac. She said they do this everyday at Apple and I should do the same. ??? Thank you for your light and easy to understand tutorials Gary!

    Marco
    7 years ago

    Very good video! I’ve always had some doubts as for those cleaning apps. By the way…do you know if there is a certain amount of free space that should be left on the iPad to keep it always fast reacting?

      7 years ago

      I don’t think the iPad uses empty space in that way. Or at least much of it. I’ve run mine at nearly 100% at times and hadn’t noticed a difference.

        Eric
        7 years ago

        I remember reading something early on (like iOS 3) that it was a good idea to keep about 100-500MB free as your iPad/iPhone would cache things, which is why some apps seem to load faster sometimes as opposed to if you haven’t used them in awhile. Same with Safari keeping a page, as opposed to a reload when visiting. I usually try to keep around 500MB-1GB available nowadays with multitasking and such and if I do run really low, I do notice a little longer load times on apps, not too much, but just noticeable.

    Scott
    7 years ago

    Thanks for this Gary. I’m with you on this, only I tried Ccleaner and cleanmymac… no difference in speed whatsoever…mainly because I have a 300gb internal drive with 250gb free! (I keep my non-programs on an external USB drive), so that 250gb free is VERY ample to keep my mac fast. Don’t have ‘defrag’ or antivirus either, my mac runs a lot faster without that crap running in the background! :-)

    faizan
    7 years ago

    what do think about antivirus do we need them now because of the new virus releasing. i think Microsoft is under control of mac virus.

      Simon
      7 years ago

      I think if you want antivirus Faizan you download a free antivirus program like Avast or Sophos, but this thread is about mac cleaning apps, you will probably find an antivirus topic under a different thread

      7 years ago

      There are no “new viruses” — there are really no old ones either, at least not for OS X. Perhaps you are referring to the recent trojans? These are all stopped by an updated OS X itself, no need for any additional software. See http://macmost.com/virus-and-malware

    Nash
    7 years ago

    What a timely podcast… I was just running one of the programs and it cleared up about 2.75GB of stuff – not enough to make a difference from what I see. I just ordered one of the new Air’s and was cleaning up some of my files so I can switch over when the new one comes next week. I was planning to use superduper to make a clone and restore on the new air. Is this the best approach? I currently have a 11″ Air / 256GB. I run VM on the air as one of the programs that I use does not have a Mac version.

      7 years ago

      Cloning is a bad idea. You’d then be putting you entire system, which meant or your own MacBook, on the new one. Different hardware, though.
      Use Migration Assistant instead. That’s exactly what it is meant for. Take your Time Machine backup (not the clone) and use it to bring over all of your stuff using Migration Assistant.

        Nash
        7 years ago

        Thanks Garry. Will use the Migration Assistant and my Time Machine.

    Haengyong
    7 years ago

    Always thank you!

    Ben Singer
    7 years ago

    Do you recommend emptying the caches in your web browser? If so how often and what is the best method?

      7 years ago

      Why do you want to empty the cache? A cache help speed up web surfing by storing recent items locally. Clearing it out will free a little space, but the cache will be full again very quickly anyway. All browsers have options in the menus/preferences to clear their caches, but they are usually for developers who need to do that to test pages in development.

    Ben Singer
    7 years ago

    Thanks, I never empty them. I wanted to get your opinion.

    Lesley
    7 years ago

    Thank Heavens for telling it straight to me, I have always been confused about it. You are a star Gary, what would we do without you ;)

    Lloyd in Summerfield, Fl
    7 years ago

    Maybe you remember Jack Webb, as Sargent Joe Friday, from the television series Dragnet and his old saying: “Just the Facts, Ma’am.”

    Its refreshing to hear Just the facts, Sir! Great job, and keep those facts coming.

    Mac C.
    7 years ago

    Good job, Gary! Well done. As another 25+ year “Mac” veteran, I concur with your comments on these “clean-up” programs.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    I do the same has you Gary. I have never had one of these Mac cleaner`s. The one thats tempting is the Mac Keeeper,and it is all over the internet. If i deleted some of the applications i do not use,Example Automator would this effect the running of the computer. I have never used it,and i think it`s got something to do with the workflow. Others are iChat,iWeb,Mail. It`s an old Mac Mini 2007,and its not my main computer,so i am not bothered. I just want to know would it effect the running of the computer Gary

      7 years ago

      Deleting those wouldn’t help you much. They would give you a little hard drive space back, but not enough to make a difference. I would not advise trying to remove them.

    Freddie from Puerto Rico
    7 years ago

    This is great honest advice Gary. I suspected the same when I started seeing these ads all over the web. I wanted to thank you for this information as I am kind of “NEW” to the Mac and had some questions about this. You answered them ALL in this video.
    Again THANKS A MILLION!!!!
    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    Nick
    7 years ago

    Great video. I love the straight talk and this backs up what I’ve always hoped was true.

    Eric
    7 years ago

    Thanks a ton for this video Gary! In our store we always tell people “Don’t install any maintenance or anti-virus programs! Just do your software updates.” We’ve also been amazed by how often people come in with problems with their Macs, especially speed issues, and have a particular highly-advertised ‘keeper’ program on their machines that after uninstalled, their machine runs fine. Keep up all the amazing (unbiased) work!

    Calvinator
    7 years ago

    Add my thanks to the growing list of appreciative Apple users, Gary; way to go.
    You mentioned that cleaning up duplicate files is something “you can do on your own”. I shot five thousand pics (of grizzly bears) on a trip to Alaska and wound up with about two-and-a-half downloads of the same pics… a real self-generated mess on my Mac and MBP. How do I find and manage dupes?
    Thanks again,
    JS

      7 years ago

      Maybe try sorting them in different ways (name, date, size, etc) and see if there is some easy way to select the ones you want to keep. Hard to give specifics as I’m not sure what you’ve got (in iPhoto? in Finder?) Are they all in the same folder? All with the same name (can’t be, so there must be some difference, etc).

    Michael A.
    7 years ago

    I too must jump in and say thank you for giving us the straight story on all the hard drive cleaning hype that is out there about what you should be doing as an enduser for your system.

    Jeremy S
    7 years ago

    Gary, I concur with you. I worked for Apple and always manually removed the small amount of files only if needed. OSX does most of the work for you and honestly the effort needed to buy, install and use cleaning software is simply not worth the time for the small if noticeable gain. Thanks for your great video and opinions.

    Squafdonoboles
    7 years ago

    The free C-Cleaner took care of 10 false positives that showed up in Sophos. After deleting them, the Sophos scan shows up clear once again. I would never have found these on my own.

    Sahaja S
    7 years ago

    After buying a copy of Mackeeper (off this site) it worked ok with Snow Leapord but when I changed to Lion my battery ran down within 2 hours (Macbook Pro). After reading this I took it off and no more battery problems. I too thank you Gary but am wondering if you could put a heavier disclaimer on that program if you are to allow it on your page. Thanks for your invaluable info.

      7 years ago

      Clarification: I don’t sell MacKeeper “at this site” — I’m guessing that you clicked on a Google ad for that product. If I were to manually approve and disapprove ads on this site it would take hours per week (there are 1000s of ads, changing all the time). That’s not how most web sites work. Even those with a large staff don’t do that. Like newspapers and TV, ads are ads, not endorsements.

        Sahaja S
        7 years ago

        Got it – I should be more savvy but as I respect what you offer I took it to mean an endorsement so I will know next time…..always learning…thanks again.

    brad
    7 years ago

    Good on you Gary for being up front and telling the truth, does not seem to happen that often.
    I appreciate you.

    Thanks again Brad

    Marshal
    7 years ago

    Hey Gary,
    May I delete everything from my Caches folder? Can this result in any problem?

    And about this Mac cleaners. Every time I delete an app I use them.
    The point is that always come another archives to delete with the app icon (the cleaner find this archives for me).
    How can I deal with this without the app cleaner? If I only move to trash will it leave some files on my MBP?

      7 years ago

      First, why delete your cache? And which cache are you talking about? What’s your reasoning for doing so?
      Second, if you move an app to the trash, and you have created files using that app, yes, it will leave them behind. But what are those files? Why did you create them? If you created them, do they have value? If so, then why are you trying to delete them? If not, then why did you create them? See what I mean?
      There are a lot of questions to ask and think about. I don’t like processes that do things automatically — they don’t think about these things. And they may not know everything about the app. I’d rather use an official uninstaller when things are complex (like Adobe apps, for instance).
      And how often do you need to uninstall an app? For a typical user, this would be rarely. But if you have some reason to keep installing and uninstalling apps, then perhaps you have even more reason to carefully consider every uninstall and do it properly, rather than having an automatic process do it for you.

        Marshal
        7 years ago

        As I did a clean install of ML and want to start over. I was thinking to make one single backup of TimeMachine to keep this first settings with me. Then I want this to occupy as little space as possible. Because of this I want to delete the Caches that you told about on this video (~/Library/Caches).
        May I delete everything in this folder?

        No, I didn’t create any files. They just appear with the app icon in the Mac cleaner app and used to be .plist or something like this. Is there any possibility that I keep “Preferences and Configuration” of the app when delete using the default way(dragging to the trash)?
        May you teach me how to search for leaved preference files?

        Thanks a lot Gary and sorry for something.

          7 years ago

          I definitely recommend against doing a “clean install” of ML. No reason for it. It will likely lead to trouble or you spending lots of time trying to restore data, apps and settings. I get lots of “help me” emails from people that start with “So I did a clean install…”
          I would not worry about plist preference files. They are tiny. No sense spending lots of time to try to get back pennies worth of hard drive space.
          Cache files you can delete in this case, but I strongly advise you against this whole path — don’t do the clean install. Just do a regular install. If this was 1995 with old Mac OS or Windows, sure, but with OS there is no real advantage and the possibility of lots of problems.

    Skky
    7 years ago

    I was about to buy a new cleanmymac! However after watching this video, thank you so much I will do everything on my own now. Thanks again.

    Mollie
    7 years ago

    Wow, thanks for your helpful post! Now I know not to buy the unnecessary cleaning programs, but I was wondering if you have recommendations for anything a person can do for when a Mac starts running slowly.

    (I have about 100 Gigs of free space on the hard drive, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26 GHz, 4GB of memory on a fairly new refurbished macbook that has started running a little sluggish for no reason I can detect.)

    Thanks again!

    mctavish
    7 years ago

    There may be additional potential problems with caches beyond just the space which they occupy. Frequently, I have seen the recommendation to clear cache files as a troubleshooting step, particularly in regard to browsers.

    Recently 1Password stopped syncing on one of my iMacs. I went to the menu bar, Help > Troubleshooting and clicked “Clear Cache.” VoilĂ , 1Password was syncing again.

      7 years ago

      In the past this has been true because some programs didn’t maintain their caches well. Tech advice like “clear your cache” live on long after they are needed. As for 1Password, it was probably a coincidence. I don’t see how clearing your browser cache could have any affect.

    mctavish
    7 years ago

    Not wanting to belabor the point, but I suppose that when the cache is cleared through the 1Password application as I did, it is referring to folders such as “~/Library/Containers/com.agilebits.onepassword-osx/Data/Library/Caches.” Maybe I’m wrong, but my guess is that this is different from the browser caches.

    It appears the 1Password has other caches squirreled away in the Containers folder.

    Appreciate all of your great info and help.

      7 years ago

      Oh, so it was the 1Password cache. Well, it sounds like a problem with 1Password. It doesn’t mean that a cleaning program would have helped either.

    Annika3
    7 years ago

    I know everyone seems to put the cleaners down, but I have used one called Detox My Mac (recommended on CNET) – and I can honestly see some good results.

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