CleanMyMac review: An essential macOS app for file maintenance, anti-malware, privacy, and speed

Jon Henshaw reviews CleanMyMac; an essential app used to optimize macOS to keep it fast and secure.


I’ve been using CleanMyMac for at least five years and perhaps longer. I originally purchased it because of its ability to free up space by finding and deleting cache and log files, unnecessary app extras, and doing full uninstalls of apps. However, over the years, it’s developed into so much more.

The latest version of the software, CleanMyMac X, has a refined interface with sleek animations. More importantly, it’s added significant new features that have made other standalone apps no longer necessary.

I was able to replace MalwareBytes, MacUpdate, and Daisy Disk with CleanMyMac thanks to its Malware Removal, Privacy, Updater, and Files tools. What amazes me the most is that I think CleanMyMac’s built-in tools are better than all of those standalone apps!

General file cleanup

It’s incredible how much disk space is used by the system cache, log files, and email attachments. For most Macs, it can take up several gigabytes of space.

While caching is an essential feature because it helps speed up the apps you use, it’s very inefficient regarding disk space. I recommend using CleanMyMac to delete the system cache regularly.

Additionally, log files aren’t necessary for most users. They’re helpful if a technician needs to troubleshoot an issue, but they are rarely required for a typical user. The same is true for email attachments. There’s no reason to store email attachments on a computer when they are already stored on an email server. For that reason, CleanMyMac is perfect for quickly removing these unnecessary and unused files from your hard drive.

Cleaning out temporary system files that take up space

CleanMyMac System Junk
System Junk cleans macOS to achieve maximum performance and reclaim free space

Removing email attachments from hard drive

CleanMyMac Mail Attachments
Mail Attachments removes local copies of email downloads and attachments to reclaim disk space

Protecting your Mac from malware privacy intrusions

The next area where CleanMyMac shines is with malware detection and removal, and privacy protection.

The malware removal tool replaces the need for an additional app, such as Malwarebytes. CleanMyMac monitors macOS in the background and conducts automatic scans. It also provides the ability to manually scan and remove malware, which is helpful if you just installed CleanMyMac and may already have malware on your computer.

CleanMyMac Malware and Threat Protection
CleanMyMac automated malware and threat protection

CleanMyMac also provides tracking and history removal. The app makes it easy to identify and remove data for apps and sites that circumvent your privacy.

Malware detection and removal

CleanMyMac Malware Removal
CleanMyMac replaces the need for Malwarebytes by detecting and cleaning malware

Tracking and history file removal

CleanMyMac Privacy
The Privacy tool removes browsing history and traces of online and offline activities

Speeding up your Mac

Many apps will install login items and launch agents without your knowledge. These can slow down how fast a computer boots ups and also take up processor and memory resources. The operating system obfuscates the ability to view and remove them. However, CleanMyMac reveals them and enables you to disable and remove them.

CleanMyMac also has maintenance scripts that can speed up the OS and its apps. For me, these features replace the need for another app, Cocktail, by Maintain.

Manage and remove launch agents and login items

CleanMyMac Optimization
The Optimization tool reveals and allows management of launch agents and login items

Run maintenance on scripts and purge caches

CleanMyMac Maintenance
Perform maintenance, like freeing up RAM, emptying cache, and re-indexing Spotlight

App management made easy

The app management tools are perhaps some of my favorite features of CleanMyMac. While macOS appears to make it easy to uninstall apps by dragging them to the Trash, it still leaves orphaned and unused files behind. Using CleanMyMac’s Uninstaller instead will delete both the app file and the hidden related files stored in different places on the hard drive.

The Updater tool replaces the need for the MacUpdate app. It can detect updates for apps that aren’t from the App Store and automatically update them. Additionally, the Extensions tool can make you aware of system and browser extensions installed on the computer and remove them.

Completely uninstall apps

CleanMyMac Uninstaller
Use the Uninstaller tool to fully remove apps from macOS

Detect and update apps

CleanMyMac Updater
Replace the need for MacUpdate by using CleanMyMac to show and automatically update apps

Discover and disable or remove system extensions

CleanMyMac Extensions
The Extensions tool reveals widgets, plugins, and other items that you may want to remove

View and manage files

CleanMyMac provides two tools for discovering and removing large files. The first tool visualizes large files on the hard drive, making it easy to find and delete large files. The second tool provides a sortable list of large and old files and makes it easy to remove files and free up disk space. These tools replace the need for an app like Daisy Disk.

Additionally, if there are files that need to be securely deleted, CleanMyMac also provides a Shredder tool. Using the Shredder tool will make it nearly impossible for anyone to recover the deleted files from the hard drive.

Visualize and interact with large files

CleanMyMac Space Lens
Space Lens replaces apps like Disk Daisy and allows you to visual and remove large files

Find large and old files to free up space

CleanMyMac Large and Old Files
Find large and old files and easily remove them

Securing delete files

CleanMyMac Shredder
Securely delete files using the Shredder tool

Smart Scan combines multiple cleanup, protection, and speed tools into one

The Smart Scan contains most of the previously mentioned tools but packs them into a single operation. Smart Scan is the primary tool that most people will use when they open CleanMyMac.

When you run Smart Scan for the first time, it will likely find and remove several gigabytes of files from your computer. Smart Scan is the tool I use at least once a month to free up space and clear my caches. Otherwise, I use a specific tool if I want to take a fine-grain approach to optimizing my computer.

CleanMyMac Smart Scan
Use the Smart Scan feature to run multiple cleanup, protection, and speed tools at once

I consider CleanMyMac an essential app for macOS. I use it on all of the computers I use and manage. CleanMyMac has a free edition you can download and try out. They also provided Coywolf with this special discount code when and if you’re ready to buy it.

5 out of 5

What I liked most

  • Replaces the need for multiple apps
  • Beautiful design and refined UX
  • Significant value for the price

Could be better

  • Nothing: A 5 out of 5 must-have app.

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @henshaw