Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Macs aren't cheap, and the storage that Apple packs into them isn't cheap either. Take the 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro I'm currently using. If you want to bump the storage from the base 512GB to 1TB, it'll cost you $200. This means that those 512 megabytes you're buying cost you $0.40 for every extra gigabyte.
In fact, every gigabyte you add above that base price adds costs in the region of $0.40. This might not seem like much, but how many gigabytes are you wasting on junk like downloads, cat videos, and files that should be archived to storage?
I've had my MacBook Pro a few months, and I've been simultaneously amazed and horrified how quickly space can fill up on the system. But there's a tool that will allow you to claw back that wasted space. And that tool is CleanMyMac X.
Now, before I go any further, a note about MacPaw, the company behind CleanMyMacX. MacPaw's headquarters is located in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a country currently weeks into fighting off a Russian invasion. But the founder and CEO of MacPaw, Oleksandr Kosovan, has outlined measures that the company has put in place to ensure "no disruptions in the support and development" of its products. I've been working with MacPaw for years and have a high degree of confidence in the company. The company has been busy recently releasing SpyBuster, one of its internal security tools designed to identify "applications with undesirable countries of origin, such as the Russian Federation and Belarus."
With that out of the way, let's take a look at CleanMyMac X.
First, what is CleanMyMac X?
Well, despite the name, it's a lot more than a tool for cleaning your Mac. It's a one-stop shop for not only removing junk off of your Mac, but it's also a tool for fine-tuning a Mac and making it, in the words of MacPaw, "as good as new."
How close to new? According to MacPaw, users can see up to 5x times more free disk space, 2.5x faster application launching, and 4.5x faster boot times.
It also adds an icon to the macOS status menu bar that, when you click on it, brings up a panel that offers easy access to commonly used features, as well as an at-a-glance look at system settings.
There are five parts to the main CleanMyMac X application:
Cleanup: Removes system junk, unwanted mail attachments, and empties the trash bin.
Protection: Malware protection and a privacy tool that wipes browser histories and chat logs for certain applications.
Speed: Optimizations and maintenance tools.
Applications: An uninstaller, updater, and tool for managing extensions.
Files: Space Lens for seeing what's on your storage drives, a tool for finding old and large files, and a file shredder.
The application also has very comprehensive, in-depth preferences settings where you can control virtually every aspect of the software.
While I find the default settings are good enough for most people, being able to do some customizations can be very handy, especially for power users. One setting I have tweaked is what appears on the macOS status menu bar panel as I initially found this a bit over complicated and cluttered.
But the main part of CleanMyMac X is the cleaning your Mac bit.
How well does that work?
Most people will access this through the Smart Scan feature, which carries out a cleanup, a scan for malware, and a scan to look for tweaks that will improve performance.
I ran a Smart Scan on my system (a system that I run CleanMyMac X on regularly -- I usually run it once every couple of weeks is a sweet spot that allows junk to build up, but not too much that the disk usage starts to have an impact), and it found over 4.5GB of junk, no malware, and suggested three tasks it could run to boost performance.
A single click will run these tasks sequentially with minimal user input required, so you can get on with other chores. You might be asked to close open apps, but that's about it.
It's that easy.
For people in a rush and who don't want to delve into the bowels of their Macs, this is a great option. If you want a deeper look and more information, CleanMyMac X allows you to have that deep dive if you want it.
Note that CleanMyMac X only cleaned 3.5GB -- the difference is because I chose not to close open applications (specifically Google Chrome, so it couldn't clear the caches of those apps), hence the difference between the total junk and removed junk.
I've been using the cleanup feature in CleanMyMac for many years now across a raft of different Mac hardware, and I've never had any problems or issues with it.
There can be a genuine fear that running cleanup tools on a computer is asking for problems, allowing them free reign to delete critical stuff. And it's a real fear, as I've seen some tools cause real havoc.
This is not a problem with CleanMyMac X.
And it impresses me how quickly MacPaw has updates for new macOS releases. The company is continually rolling out minor bug fixes and new features.
It just works, and it works great.
As for all the other tools and features, I don't use them as often as I do the cleanup tool, but I've used the memory free-up tool occasionally, especially when Adobe Photoshop or Premiere Pro or Google Chrome eats all of it up.
As for price, I find CleanMyMac X to be great value. You can pick up a one-year subscription for a single Mac for $39.95, with plans available for two and five Macs.
If you prefer to buy a lifetime license, those prices start at $89.95.
Need to grab a lot of licenses? MacPaw can sort that out for you.
For me, CleanMyMac X is one of those essentials. It's one of the first applications that I install on any new Mac, and it's one of those tools that easily pays for itself, freeing up many gigabytes of precious space every time I run it.
CleanMyMac X by far the quickest and easiest and best ways to declutter your Mac.