We clean our rooms and clothes so why not our Macs? But who can waste the entire day digging through folders and files? There are so many places like music, videos, apps and email downloads, and countless more locations on your Mac where junk and clutter accumulates. In 2021 cleaning your Mac is easier than ever. Which is why millions of people download free and low-cost Mac cleaning software.
To start off, we've made a quick comparison chart about the best Mac cleaners for Mac.
|1||CleanMyMac X||Best cleaning and antimalware functionality in one tool||Link|
|2||Disk Doctor||Quick scan and deep cleaning of all kinds of junk||Link|
|3||Gemini 2||Finds duplicate and similar files everywhere on your Mac, including Photos, iTunes, and external drives.||Link|
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A handy cleaner may prove that your Mac is still alive and can actually perform at its best. In this article we’ve brought together some of the best Mac cleaning solutions around to clean, optimize, and maintain Macs that are available in 2021.
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Top 12 best cleaners for Mac: Free and premium versions
1. CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac X takes the first place with good reason — this cleaner combines features of both cleaning software and antimalware tool. Its Smart Scan promises a “nice and thorough scan of your Mac.” It does what it says, detecting junk like user cache files and system logs, checking your Mac for malicious software, and speeding up your MacBook. Looks like, there is a threat in my system, that I need to get rid of:
Frankly speaking, CleanMyMac X is Tesla Roadster among other Mac cleaners. And it does a great job revealing your junk and other clutter, uninstalling unneeded apps and their leftovers, and keeping your Mac’s system clean and optimized. Another pro is that CleanMyMac X is Apple-notarized, which means it’s safe for your Mac. You can download its free version right here.
Free version: Available here
2. Disk Doctor
Disk Doctor is developed in the UK and was awarded the 'Mac Gem’ award by MacWorld in 2013. CNET and other tech journalists also praise functionality. As of 2021, it still looks like a useful tool for Mac cleaning that removes junk slowing down and reducing the computing power of your Mac.
Free version: N/A
3. Gemini 2
Gemini 2 is the duplicate finder that allows you to free up gigabytes of storage and organize your files. In just a few minutes.
It quickly scans every corner of your Mac and weeds out useless copies. No matter what type of file it is: a photo, music track, or a doc… Gemini will definitely find it. And once the scan is done, you can remove the duplicates in a click. Or review results to make sure nothing important gets deleted.
If you remove something by accident, it takes just a click to put it back. And to make sure things like that never happen again, you can exclude specific files and folders from scan. Try out the free version right here.
The app has seen a major update in 2021 which included a real-time duplicate monitor. This new tool notifies you of duplicates the moment they are created on your Mac.
Free version: Available here
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DaisyDisk gives you a visual representation of your Mac folders, making it easy to see what is taking up space and delete the folders you don't need. All you need to do is select a drive, DaisyDisk will scan it, then you can delete everything that is wasting valuable space. It comes with a free and premium version.
Free version: Trial version available
5. AppCleaner & Uninstaller
If you only need to uninstall apps on Mac, AppCleaner is a good pick. AppCleaner only removes applications, plugins, and widgets, which are again, small apps. AppCleaner works in a familiar drag & drop mode. Its interface is also clean and easy to understand for a newbie.
After feeding the apps to AppCleaner, you should visit the Leftovers section of the app to erase their remains. Why we place AppCleaner & Uninstaller among free Mac cleaner tools? Because it is 100% free. Whether you will fully clean your Mac using it, is a different question.
AppCleaner & Uninstaller is created by FreeMacSoft, also the makers of LiteIcon, an icon customizer for Mac.
Price: Voluntary donation
6. Smart Mac Care
If you launch Smart Mac Care, it will look hauntingly familiar to other free Mac cleaner apps. Not only features will be called the same, everything up to the fonts, will be identical to some other app you’ve just used. That’s not a minus, though. You can still free up a lot of space with Smart Mac Care.
Smart Mac Care operates by a logic of “scans.” There is a Junk Scan, Malware Scan, Privacy Scan, etc. Just like Mac Booster, Smart Mac Care removes duplicates scattered in various locations on your Mac. There’s also a Memory Optimizer feature that promises to free up RAM on your Mac. In a word, Smart Mac Care resembles every other generic product whose only difference is in packaging. This is supported by the fact that we couldn’t find any credible third-party reviews for this app.
On another skeptical note: to uninstall Smart Mac Care you have to enter your admin password. This is not the case with other Mac cleaners we’ve used.
Price: $56.62 per year
Free version: Demo available
7. Drive Genius
Drive Genius is labeled a “Mac monitoring software.” It’s a whole suite of tools that provide powerful disk diagnostics. It’s hard to list a thing that this software doesn’t do. You can scan for malware, secure-erase files, customize icons — it’s dozens of apps in one body. What makes Drive Genius unique is, probably, its search for corrupted files and inconsistencies on your drive. If your Mac is an old one, keeping it in good health will be easier with Drive Genius.
In a free version, you can use just a fraction of tools, notably a DiskPulse utility. This is an automatic Mac health checker that notifies you before your hard drive fails. Unlike Mac cleaners that merely scan, it is able to repair damage on your disks, which makes it a real deal. Be prepared that hard drive scan may take some time, but the results are worth it. The latest version of Drive Genius released in 2020 adds long-awaited support for macOS Big Sur.
Price: $299 for Professional edition
Free version: Limited Lite edition is available
Originally created in 2004 by Piriform, CCleaner comes with a free and professional version, focusing on businesses and business customers. CCleaner is a cross-platform tool, for PCs, Macs, Android, and it has a Cloud, Network and Technician tool, depending on what you need and the platform/software you use.
The premium version comes with a lot more features, including real-time alerts, free updates, and dedicated support. Although created for PCs in the early days, CCleaner does well to identify unwanted files on a Mac, so that users can select and delete the files and folders they don't need to free up space. As a cleaner for Mac, customers are pretty happy with the results of CCleaner.
Free version: Available
The Sensei app is a relatively new app on the market, but it can be another useful tool for your Mac. The Sensei software developers call the app “Pro Mac Cleaner” on their website. I would call it a performance controlling tool.
Sensei presents a detailed picture of how your Mac performs. In the Dashboard, you can find out information about your MacBook, check your CPU’s current temperature, and see how much of your RAM is used. Cooling gives you exact information on your Mac’s fans' speed.
Its Clean option helps to get rid of user cache, logs, large files, etc. The Uninstaller feature allows you to delete apps from your Mac and remove their traces. It doesn’t list pre-installed apps from Apple, such as Safari or Calendar, but it shows every app you have installed on your Mac.
Surely, you can clean up your Mac manually, but using dedicated software will save you tons of time.
Price: $29 per year
Free version: Available
Free Mac cleaners review
The following Mac cleaning apps are either completely free or donation-based. You won’t find any trial limitations here. If you’re looking for a no thrill basic cleanup, these free Mac cleaners might help you.
OnyX is a french Mac cleaning solution developed by Titanium software. It weighs only 5 MB but that doesn’t mean its capabilities are limited. OnyX is a tool that programmers will have a lot of fun with. With it, you can peek under the hood of your macOS and automate a whole list of jobs, like disk cleanup and cache removal. You can even tweak the color of folders on your Mac, and even make them invisible. Deservedly, it's among the best free Mac cleaners.
OnyX is one of the best Mac cleaners because it cleans many specific under-the-surface files, like inner databases and logs. If you know what is XPC cache is, you’ll probably like this app. But for us, ordinary Mac users who came here for the design and glossy buttons, OnyX will require some learning time.
Those who use OnyX say it is stable and reliable. There is no dedicated customer service (because OnyX is free software), but you shouldn’t be worried. The only likely damage is you accidentally deleting files by yourself.
Price: Free cleaner
11. Clean me
This open-source app that only exists in the form of GitHub download is good enough for cleaning caches and logs. It’s so small its ZIP file weighs only 1.3 MB.
Clean me shows the size of each category of cache files. It analyzes such junk as Application Cache, User Cache, and more temporary files
The developer recommends that you start your cleanup with auto-selected options. Otherwise, you may delete something valuable by accident. So treat it as an analyzer and you’ll be safe.
Price: Free cleaner
12. Native macOS cleaner (Optimize Storage)
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Your macOS has its own cleaner of sorts. You’ve probably come across it when checking your occupied disk space.
Go to Apple menu.
Now, click About this Mac > Storage > Manage.
In the sidebar you’ll see the main categories of files on your Mac. Going through Documents is likely to be the most fruitful option. Check the Size and click on Last Accessed. Now you’ve found all those movies gathering dust in your Downloads.
In the same way you can delete some old apps. This feature could be an alternative to a free Mac cleaner; the only problem is it works largely on the surface. You won’t be able to remove System Junk or analyze the grey areas occupied by “Other.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can’t my Mac clean itself?
Your macOS also has a built-in Mac cleaner, which Apple called Optimized Storage. Though its capabilities are limited, it gives you basic directions on where to start the cleanup. But for a thorough system cleanup and removing malware, you’ll need a dedicated Mac cleaner app.
Can Mac cleaner apps delete my important files?
Typically, best Mac cleaner apps have a protection built-in. They will usually select only those files that are safe for deletion.
Will Mac cleaners slow down my Mac?
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Some cleaners try to get into your Login items, thus creating an extra burden on the processor. On a flip side, the reliable Mac cleaner apps might even speed up your Mac. They remove all the outdated junk files giving your Mac an extra boost.
Mac cleaning apps you should avoid
Above we've touched the trusted Mac cleanup solutions but there are many that work on the dark side. Malwarebytes lists Advanced Mac Cleaner Pro and similar tools as unwanted applications. Here are some signs that should warn you against using scam Mac cleaners.
Signs of Mac cleaner scam:
- 'Your Mac is infected' intrusive message
- An app is installed as part of different app
- An app finds 2323 (the number is an example) threats on your Mac
- Mac cleaner redirects your search engine page
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Be safe and happy cleaning.