How often do you clean your Mac? Be honest, when is the last time you at least cleaned your Mac desktop?
What if you could find a software that could automate the cleaning process for you?
The reason why we’re asking you all of these questions is because no matter how new your Mac is – if you don’t clean it and maintain its health, it will eventually slow down. And before you blame Apple (or someone else), you should definitely ask yourself when was the last time you backed up and cleaned your Mac thoroughly?
These are just some of the questions you might have in the back of your mind right now. Luckily, you’re in the right place as we’ll provide all the answers to the questions you have – so keep on reading!
Note: Though we talk about free Mac cleaning software below, you might also be interested in taking a look at some of our other lists of premium Mac cleaners, top PC cleaners, an the apps to clean & organize your Mac desktop.
Why would you need to clean your Mac?
If Mac is considered a superior OS choice – why would there need to be any cleaning?
The answer to this is fairly simple. During the use of your precious Mac, you’ll accumulate temporary files, system cache, leftovers from the apps you’ve once used, and a lot of other similar types of files.
When all these add up, not only it will take up a decent amount of your storage which you could use for other purposes but you’ll also be putting your Mac health at risk.
Mac that accumulates data and writes files without any cleaning/deleting in a long time can run slower, and might not even be in a stable condition.
If you’re using your Mac for work, school, or even personal reasons – you would still want it to run as it did run the first day, right?
And while you’re blaming the Big Sur update or you’re thinking that you might need a newer Mac to regain the speed your computer once had – it’s most likely that all you need to do is clean your Mac.
Doing all the work manually will take chunks of your time and it’s most likely that you won’t be able to find all the files by yourself.
Using software instead is a smart choice as it’ll detect all files and data that can or should be removed, and yet you still get to decide what goes and what doesn’t.
As we always say – it’s better to start with free software and see if it serves your purpose so we’ve selected, tested, and reviewed 7 free Mac cleaning software which you can find below!
Top free Mac cleaning software to check out
It’s a bit tricky to find quality free cleaning software and while there are hundreds of paid cleaning software, there isn’t as much free cleaning software.
However, here’s are our top 7 picks for the best free Mac cleaning software that won’t let you down:
- macOS Built-In Cleaner
- CCleaner Free for Mac
- App Cleaner
- Disk Inventory X
- OmniDiskSweeper for Mac
- Disk Doctor
Most Mac users don’t even know that there’s a built-in feature that you can use for the cleaning purpose.
It’s a feature that’s very easy to find if you know exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t know where to find it – follow our advice:
- Open Finder
- Click the Apple logo in the top left corner
- Click ‘About this Mac’
- In the pop-up window, click Storage
- In Storage, click Manage
- In a new pop-up window, click on the ‘Optimize Storage’ button
By clicking on the Manage button in the Storage tab, this will give you a better insight into the amount of storage you’re using on your Mac, the amount of storage that’s free, but it will also list all types of files in the highest to lowest data usage order.
I find this very useful as this tells me exactly what types of files are taking up the most space on my Mac and this is a great indicator as to where to start your cleaning.
Optimize Storage function is a really useful built-in feature that not many Mac users know about – yet it helps you save space by automatically removing iTunes files that you’ve watched (such as TV programs, movies, and shows).
I am the first person to admit that I never watch the same movie twice and yet I never remember to delete it off of my Mac after watching. If you’re in the same situation as me – Mac’s in-built optimize feature is the best place to start with your Mac cleaning.
Also, knowing that this is the official Mac feature that’s free takes the game to another level.
Onyx can be a bit confusing at first, because when you install it and its menu pops up – there are loads of settings you can adjust.
It took me a bit to find a way to run Onyx, but once I was able to do that by running both Maintenance by pressing the button ‘Run tasks’ and through the Utilities tab which allowed me to clean all files from the past week or month.
For me, the best part of the app is the functionality which works smoothly, and yet for free software – you get a lot of features which can you manually enable/disable.
This, of course, ensures that you completely automate the process of cleaning your Mac on a regular schedule without deleting any important files/documents.
I also like how Onyx has a complete insight into my Mac and doesn’t only know the memory/storage, but it also knows other components and apps I’ve been using the most.
Onyx also works in 3 different ways which are maintenance, rebuilding, and cleaning.
For example, if one of your updates didn’t install correctly, Onyx would recognize this through the software, rebuild the update and confirm another installation, and even after the installation – it would delete all unnecessary files that are leftover.
The great thing about Onyx is that it’s completely free and you can install it for almost any Mac OS version.
CCleaner is the ‘old-school’ software when it comes down to cleaning your Mac and even though it’s a very popular option among Windows users – you should know that CCleaner is available and free for Mac users too!
The download took a bit but the software is pretty lightweight so the installation only takes a minute or two.
Once you run the CCleaner for the first time, it’ll automatically detect your Mac hardware, its OS, and your apps/files.
You’ll be greeted with a ‘Cleaner’ tab where you can choose which parts of your Mac should be cleaned and which one shouldn’t. I find this option to be very useful, but if you aren’t sure which one to tick or untick – you can just leave it by default.
Being able to clean both my Mac computer but also the Apps is a great way to keep both in control, and with the help of tools, I was able to uninstall some apps that didn’t have a clear and easy-to-find uninstaller.
The user interface is very simple and you will have everything you need ready – and you’ll always be only a couple of clicks away from the cleaning process.
Even though there’s a paid version which has a bit better capabilities, CCleaner also has a free version that I think is very much capable of being the only software you’ll ever need to clean your Mac.
If you already know that your apps are something you must clean first and that this might make a significant improvement for your Mac – App Cleaner is the perfect app.
It’s a very lightweight app that only took me a couple of seconds to download (using an average internet speed) but knowing that it doesn’t even require installation yet can help me is a great start.
This software is very simple to use and it has a clean interface with only two tabs. You can either drop all of your selected apps into the software for the cleaning to begin – or you can also click on the list tab to get a list of all the apps installed on your Mac.
I’ve noticed that this software is good at listing all apps that are installed on the Mac, even some of the apps that come integrated into every Mac. These seem to be locked from further changes so you don’t accidentally end up deleting something important (which is another feature I like).
This ensures that there is no learning curve to take advantage of this free software and I believe that anyone without any advanced technical knowledge will be able to clean apps on their Mac with the help of this software.
Technically, you can click on Finder and Applications to list all of your apps to easily delete them – but I think of this software as an advanced & improved version without a complicating interface that would confuse everyone.
Of course, benefits don’t stop here. Another great thing about the app is that it’s free and it’s even available for the previous version of the Mac OS.
DiskInventory X is one of the smallest software out there and it doesn’t even require an installation but its efficiency is the main reason why it made it to our list of the top 7 free cleaning Mac software.
Even though it’s a bit of an older software, its reliability is still relevant nowadays with the most modern Macs and the newest file systems.
What’s the most unique thing about this software is its tree map that got me a bit confused at first, but once you understand what it represents – you won’t have to think twice.
The special graphical map is called a ‘treemap’ and it’s a treemap of your storage (your disk drive) and all files you have on it, categorized under different categories to help you understand exactly where your space is at.
If you’re lacking space but you’ve deleted most of the stuff from your Mac and you just can’t understand why – I believe that this old-school but in-depth software is a perfect solution to ‘open your eyes’ to what you couldn’t see just by using your Mac.
I was able to find 2 installer packages that were installed but didn’t delete themselves. And since we’re talking about update installer packages, you can imagine the large size they were taking on my Mac.
The software is very simple to use, the interface is simple, and once you find your way on the treemap – this software will help you find ways to clean your Mac, free up some space, and keep it running smoothly.
If you’re afraid of very technical software or if you’re looking for the simplest app to clean your whole Mac – OmniDiskSweeper is the most suitable app for your Mac.
It’s an app that’s doesn’t take long to download & install, and yet once you run it – you’ll be greeted with a very simple interface.
The only option is to sweep and clean a selected drive, so once a tab pops up with your drives – you’ll just need to select your Mac’s drive and click the button to get started with the cleaning process.
I was able to quickly see all of my files on my main Mac storage drive, listed from the largest to the smallest with the ability to browse through them and trash any of them.
One of the features I find to be the most convenient is definitely the feature that allows you to open the file before trashing it. This way, if you aren’t sure which file it is by the name, you can easily find out what the file contains.
But probably, the two best features of the app are its simplicity and that it’s totally free for Mac users.
We decided that the last and final option will be a paid but cheap option as Disk Doctor is well worth the price and there might be some people who just need the paid version with a lot more features to clean even the oldest Macs out there.
Disk Doctor is award-winning software that solely focuses on disk cleanup only. Disk cleanup is the biggest part of cleanup as all files or documents you have on your Mac are stored on the disk.
The interface is very simple and I like the convenient 3-tab bar at the top that gives a clear insight into the free space on your Mac, the amount you can free, and what your disk space will be after the cleanup.
Below this 3-tab bar at the top, you’ll get a detailed look at all files and documents that are being cleaned, and I find it useful that you can manually select which file types you would like to be cleaned.
I found that application logs were piling up on my Mac and that removing them freed up a decent amount of space.
It seems to me that Disk Doctor is a doctor that can find files things that the most average Mac users don’t even know about and yet cleaning them up won’t affect how your Mac runs. It’ll improve the way your Mac loads, runs, and it will even free up a lot more space for you.
I’ve mentioned that this is a paid version, but don’t feel overwhelmed as the price of Disk Doctor is only $2.99 on the App Store.
Are free cleaners good enough to keep Mac healthy?
Since we are not trying to do data recovery or anything that sensitive – cleaning up your Mac can be done manually and this software provides an automated purpose.
With that being said, about 89% of userswill be more than fine with the help of these free cleaning software.
As you can see, there’s a wide range from software that cleans the apps, software that cleans the unused files and logs, to software that cleans almost everything on your Mac that you aren’t using and is taking up your space.
What I like about some of these software is that they combine more than just the cleaning feature. Cleaning is the core of the app and yet the software such as the maintenance of existing and important system files, cleaning of the unimportant files, and even regeneration of important files in case something goes wrong.
I also believe that it’s always better to give free software a try before considering the paid option. And since this free software is so efficient, the price of the paid versions is relatively low so you’re going to find the best Mac cleaner software suitable for your needs, whether it’s free or paid.
Bonus tips to keep your Mac in good condition
Cleaning your Mac from files that have piled up to removing apps that you no longer need, and a couple of other ways are a great start to keep your Mac in good condition.
However, it’s important to regularly think of ways you can use to keep your Mac in good condition and even prevent your Mac from becoming unusable before you reach out for the cleaning software.
To keep your Mac in good condition, have it run smoothly, increase its speed, and free up a lot more space – here are some of the actionable tips you can start with today:
- Backing up data regularly will decrease the chance of cache files & logs and yet will keep your mind at ease knowing your data is secure
- Cutting down the number of apps you’re using in the background can help increase the speed of your Mac (especially an older one that’s using older hardware)
- Anti-malware software can help catch viruses and malware that might slow down your Mac, harm your disk drive, and take up even more of your free space
- Clean out your old files and remove duplicate files that were once important by storing them on external drives or in the cloud
- Keep an eye on Disk Utility (integrated feature in the Mac) that can keep you up with the health of your Mac and the storage you have available
- Updating software to the latest released OS is recommended, but maybe not straight away as this will help avoid the glitches in the newly released operating system versions
- Shutting down apps when you’re not using them will help your battery, your Mac’s hardware, and will automatically improve the way you use your Mac
If nothing helps and your Mac is still running slow (can easily happen with older Macs), the best way to boost up your storage and speed is to replace your HDD with an SSD.
But no matter the type of your disk drive, you should always avoid filling it up to 100%. You should always leave a bit of space for the system as you never know when the next update might be or when you might need just a bit more space for the app update or to install a new app to your Mac.
Damaged files should be taken care of as soon as you spot them and the best way to spot them is either through Disk Utility or by using one of the cleaning software (with the capability) from this software.
Before you go
After spending over 20 years working with Macs, both old and new, there’s a premium tool I think would be useful to every Mac owner who is experiencing performance issues.
CleanMyMac X is highest rated all-round cleaning app for the Mac, it can quickly diagnose and solve a whole plethora of common (but sometimes tedious to fix) issues at the click of a button. It also just happens to make it very easy to free up disk space on your Mac by identifying junk files and allowing you to get rid of them with a click, so Download CleanMyMac X to get your Mac back up to speed today.