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Ranking the Best Mac Cleaning Apps for 2021-22

AvaBy Anthony Enticknap | June 08, 2022
Main image of Ranking the Best Mac Cleaning Apps for 2021-22

Best Mac Cleaners

Over time junk and temporary files can pile up on your Mac’s system drive, taking up space and even slowing it down. Speed problems are less likely with newer Macs, of course, particularly the new ones with Apple’s own M1 chips in them. But the latest models come with as little as 256GB of storage, which can easily run short if you save a lot of big files. You can’t upgrade your storage either unless you fancy breaking out a soldering iron. 

So whether you have a new Mac or an older model, it can be useful to optimize by finding and removing unnecessary data. You can search for this data manually and delete it, but that takes time. In more recent versions of macOS, there are some built-in tools to optimize disk space, but those remove everything. 

To clean your Mac more thoroughly but also easily, you can use Mac cleaning software. These apps will seek out data you don’t need, enabling you to safely delete it. Here we look at some of the best available right now. 

 

MacKeeper

MacKeeper

This all-in-one app covers practically everything your Mac needs for security, privacy and cleaning.
The added VPN service is a big bonus too.
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CCleaner

CCleaner

Despite a dated interface, CCleaner offers excellent cleaning features and a reasonable one-off price.
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MacCleaner Pro

MacCleaner Pro

You get a decent collection of cleaning tools
But it doesn’t offer antivirus
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What makes a good Mac cleaner tool?

Ideally, you should look out for these features when you’re hunting for a Mac cleaning app:

  • Safe cleaning. You don’t want to delete the wrong thing. A good cleaning app will identify only the files that are safe to remove.
  • Large file finder. A full disk analyzer or a large file finder can help you to quickly locate files that take up storage space. You’ll need to manually identify what to delete, though. 
  • Duplicates finder. Duplicates can get created for all kinds of reasons, and they can end up taking up a lot of space. A good cleaning app will find them for you.
  • Extra features. If your Mac cleaner also has built-in antivirus, VPN or something else, that means you won’t have to install separate apps. And it could save you some money too. 

 

3.9MacKeeper
3.9
(28 reviews)

MacKeeper

Price $10.95

Real-time antivirus
Safe junk cleaning
Duplicates finder
VPN service
Ad and tracker blocking
Memory cleaner
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This is the latest version of the MacKeeper software. MacKeeper boasts improved functionality, a refreshed design, and an easy-to-navigate interface. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Mac newbie or a pro — you’ll get a hang of MacKeeper easily.
 

MacKeeper is an all-in-one app with a bunch of built-in cleaning tools that’ll get rid of junk and redundant files eating up your Mac’s storage. But it’s also a complete security and optimization tool, with real-time antivirus, a duplicate finder, an ad blocker, and a variety of other privacy protection functions.
 

MacKeeper also comes with a built-in Update Tracker, which checks your Mac for outdated apps and updates them accordingly. And you can use MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller tool to uninstall apps and remove their respective leftover files.
 
On top of all that, MacKeeper comes with a VPN service included as part of the subscription. This gives you access to remote servers all over the world, so you can hide your identity and location. 
 
As a security app, it’s missing ransomware protection, so hopefully that will be added at some point. 

Pros
All-in-one optimization and protection
24/7 data leak monitoring
Includes a VPN service
Cons
No ransomware protection
3.6CCleaner
3.6
(58 reviews)

CCleaner

Free

Junk file cleaner
Large file finder
Free space eraser
Duplicate file finder
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CCleaner is a well-known name in the cleaning software industry, having made PC apps for many years. And now the company has one of the best Mac cleaning apps you’ll find too. 

CCleaner offers a cleaning tool that analyzes your Mac’s storage to hunt out cache files, browser cookies, and other junk. It scans both system and third-party applications.
 
Asides from cleaning junk files, CCleaner also offers other performance optimization tools to instantly free up your Mac memory. For example, you can use the Startup tool to change your Mac's startup programs and optimize your Mac's startup speed.

The built-in Duplicate Finder will also help free up extra space by removing duplicate files located in similar or different folders on your Mac.
 
CCleaner is available for free, but there's a professional version that costs $29.95. The free version has the essential tools you need to clean your Mac's storage. But if you want the more advanced features like automatic clearing of your browser history, real-time monitoring of junk files, and automatic updates, you'll need to upgrade to the professional version.
 

Pros
Free version has good basic tools
Thorough junk file cleaning
One-off price
Cons
Interface looks dated
No security features
4.5MacCleaner Pro
4.5
(13 reviews)

MacCleaner Pro

Price $29.95

Junk file remover
Duplicate finder
Disk space analyzer
Disk speed-up
Memory cleaner
One-off price
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You can think of MacCleaner Pro as a full-fledged file manager with disk cleaning and system optimization capabilities on top.

On the app’s dashboard, you’ll find an overview of your Mac’s storage, color-coded into several file types and categories: system files, duplicate files, applications, documents, movies, and so on. You can then click on any of these categories to view more information.
 
In addition to removing junk files, there are additional tools that can help you fix issues affecting your Mac’s performance. The Speedup Tool, for example, will rebuild your Spotlight index, disable startup apps, and free up RAM.

The built-in App Cleaner will also reset malfunctioning apps, manage browser extensions, remove unwanted/unused applications and delete their leftover files.
 
MacCleaner Pro’s junk cleaner and system optimization tools are available to all users. But you’ll need to buy the app to use pro tools like the duplicate finder, app uninstaller, and disk analyzer.
 

Pros
Junk cleaner is available for free
One-off price
Intuitive interface
Cons
No security features
1.0Avast Cleanup
1.0
(1 reviews)

Avast Cleanup

Price $59.99

Junk file cleaner
Bad photo finder
Duplicate file finder
App remover
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Avast is known mainly for its antivirus software, but it also makes this capable Mac cleanup tool as well. As with other cleaning apps, it works by removing junk files, duplicate documents, and applications.

As well as finding duplicates, Avast Cleanup uses a unique image-detection technology to scan your photo gallery for poor-quality images so you can delete them. It looks for things like under-exposure, over-exposed, or blurring. This isn’t usually the kind of feature you find in cleaning tools like this, so it’s definitely a bonus.

Everything you need to declutter your Mac is clearly spelled out on the app's dashboard. There are no hidden tools or menus. Simply launch the app, grant it access to your Mac's disk, scan for unwanted files, and then choose what you want to keep or delete.
 
You can download Avast Cleanup for free and try it free for 30 days without a credit card. This is a big improvement from previous versions, which required you to enter your payment details first.
 

Pros
Decent trial period
Simple interface
Find poor-quality images
Cons
No security or privacy
Find poor-quality images Expensive just for cleaning
1.0AVG Cleaner
1.0
(1 reviews)

AVG Cleaner

Free

Junk file remover
Duplicate finder
Unnecessary downloads finder
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This very simple Mac system cleaner offers two main tools: a Disk Cleaner and a Duplicate Finder.

The former will scan your Mac for hidden files (application caches, junk files, unnecessary downloads, and so on) that could be taking up disk space. The Duplicate Finder, on the other hand, will dig out identical files and folders.
 
The overall disk cleaning process is simple and effortless. The Duplicate Finder, meanwhile, supports a drag-and-drop functionality that lets you find duplicate files in specific folders on your Mac. Simply drag the folder to the Duplicate Finder section and leave the rest to AVG Cleaner.

Clearly, AVG Cleaner is very basic compared to other Mac cleaners. But if you want a simple cleaning tool with added duplicate file finding but you’re on a budget, it’ll do the trick.
 

Pros
Completely free
Easy file cleaning
Includes a duplicates finder
Cons
Very limited feature set
3.5Cleaner One Pro
3.5
(5 reviews)

Cleaner One Pro

Price $19.99

Junk file and duplicate finder
Big file finder
App manager
File shredder
Disk space analyzer
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Formerly known as Dr. Cleaner, Cleaner One Pro (developed by Trend Micro) is another reliable app to clean up your Mac, particularly if you have a lot of duplicate photos.

It deep cleans your Mac's storage by removing junk files, duplicate files, similar photos, and so on. There’s also a Big Files tool, which, as the name suggests, lets you preview and delete big files (between 10MB and 500MB). This is a simple, effective way to get back some of your Mac’s disk space.
 
The Smart Scan feature will check for vulnerabilities affecting your Mac’s performance and suggest actions to get them fixed. Cleaner One Pro also comes with a menu bar tool that displays a quick overview of your Mac's CPU usage, memory usage, and network status in real-time. This is a handy little thing to have day to day. 
 
Cleaner One Pro is well priced, but if you want any security features, you won’t find them here. That’s definitely something to bear in mind before signing up. 
 

Pros
File shredder tool
Large file finder
Affordable pricing
Cons
No security features
3.8Disk Drill
3.8
(193 reviews)

Disk Drill

Free

File recovery S.M.A.R.T. monitoring
File shredder
Disk space analyzer
Backup features
Data protection
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Disk Drill isn’t just a Mac cleaner. Its primary use is as a data recovery tool, not just for Macs but for iOS and Android devices too. You can even recover data from Time Machine backups. 
 
There isn’t a cleaning function, per se, but rather a disk analyzer like DaisyDisk. You’ll find this in the Extra tools section, along with a duplicate finder, data shredder, a backup tool, various other tools for maintaining your Mac’s disk health. It’s not as visually appealing as the disk analyzer in some of the other apps here, but it works well.
 
Disk Drill can also help you to create a bootable macOS USB stick, and it will erase your free disk space to prevent old files being read.
 
There are no antivirus functions in Disk Drill, so you’ll still need a security app. In fact, Disk Drill would complement an app like MacKeeper or CleanMyMac, giving you a full range of security, privacy and optimization tools. It’s quite expensive, though, at $89.99. Pay a bit extra, and you can have lifetime updates, so that investment should pay off eventually.
 

Pros
Excellent file recovery features
Find large files easily
Lifetime updates available
Cons
Quite expensive
No security features
3.4CleanMyMac X
3.4
(417 reviews)

CleanMyMac X

Price $34.96

Junk file remover
Malware remover
App remover
File shredder
Disk space analyzer
Large file finder
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CleanMyMac X offers a suite of tools that remove junk files and malware from your Mac. The software has a clean interface, and you’ll find everything you need to clean and optimize your Mac in the sidebar.

It also has a Smart Scan feature that thoroughly scans your Mac and cleans unneeded junk, neutralizes potential threats, and boosts your system performance.
 
Like MacKeeper, CleanMyMac X also lets you effectively manage applications on your Mac. You can use the utilities in the Applications module to uninstall applications, remove system extensions, and find outdated apps and update them accordingly. The Space Lens feature lets you see what’s taking up all your disk space and where it is.

The Maintenance module will free up disk space on your Mac’s disk, repair broken file permissions, and compress the size of your Time Machine backup.
 
CleanMyMac X is a paid cleaning tool but you can use the trial version for free. However, you should note that the trial version comes with a 500MB cleaning limit.
 

Pros
Good selection of tools
Handy Space Lens feature
Clear interface
Cons
No real-time antivirus
4.3DaisyDisk
4.3
(89 reviews)

DaisyDisk

Price $9.99

Disk space analyzer
Large file finder
Family sharing
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DaisyDisk takes a straightforward approach towards junk removal. At the click of a button, DaisyDisk will scan your entire Mac disk and categorize your data into an interactive, color-coded map. Data labels are also displayed at the top-right corner of the app for easy identification.

To preview the content of the category, click on a data label or its corresponding color on the map. If you find a suspiciously large file consuming your Mac’s storage, all you need to do is drag the file to the Delete queue located at the bottom-left corner of the app.
 
This is one of the best apps to perform a disk cleanup on Mac. The simplicity and disk-scanning speed are two of its highlight features.

The only downside is that DaisyDisk isn't beginner-friendly. It shows you things eating up your Mac's storage, but it doesn't tell you which ones are junk files or malware. You'll have to find and delete them yourself.
 

Pros
Easily find large files
Good-looking interface
Low one-off price
Cons
Limited feature set
Doesn’t identify junk files
2.2Disk Doctor
2.2
(9 reviews)

Disk Doctor

Price $2.99

Big file finder
Junk file remover
Find incomplete downloads
Low, one-off price
Content-Image Screenshot 2021-12-02 At 12.52.19

Disk Doctor removes a wide variety of unnecessary files from your Mac: application caches, message attachments, temporary files, application leftovers, partial or uncompleted downloads, application log files. You name it, this app will find and delete it for you.

The app automatically scans your disk and groups unneeded files into different categories. You can then preview the files and choose what to keep and what to delete. This includes large files and partial downloads, which you may not want anymore. 
 

Disk Doctor costs just $2.99 from the App Store. At such a low price, you’ve got practically nothing to lose by giving it try. It doesn’t include any kind of security or privacy protection features, though. 
 

Pros
Very low price
Good basic cleaning features
Finds large files
Cons
No security or privacy protection
Limited features

Summary

For all-around cleaning and security, MacKeeper is a great choice, and the VPN is a bonus. CleanMyMac X offers a similar feature set without the real-time protection and VPN. 

Meanwhile, apps like Cleaner One Pro and MacCleaner Pro have strong cleaning features too. DaisyDisk is just one of a few apps that can build a visual map of your disk space, helping you find and remove large files you don’t need. 

Disk Doctor has a few decent cleaning options and is very cheap, but it can’t compete on features with most of the other apps here. 

Finally, Disk Drill has a good set of features, but it’s less of a cleaning app and more of a file recovery tool. If you need these features, it’s worth checking out and using alongside one of the other apps here. 
 

Overview of the best Mac cleaners

App
Junk cleaner
Duplicate finder
Large file finder
Disk space analyzer
App remover
Antivirus
VPN
File recovery
Ad blocking
File shredder
Free space eraser
MacKeeper

MacKeeper

CCleaner

CCleaner

MacCleaner Pro

MacCleaner Pro

Avast Cleanup

Avast Cleanup

AVG Cleaner

AVG Cleaner

Cleaner One Pro

Cleaner One Pro

Disk Drill

Disk Drill

CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X

DaisyDisk

DaisyDisk

Disk Doctor

Disk Doctor

FAQ

Are Mac cleaner apps safe to use?
Mac cleaner apps from trusted developers are safe to use. They’re designed only to remove files that are okay to remove. That’s much better than just poking around in your Mac’s system files and removing things manually.
Do Mac cleaners really work?
Cleaning software can help you to declutter your Mac, so you can get back some disk space. Whether they help speed up your Mac is a different matter. You’ll probably find they work better with older Macs with traditional hard drives. New Macs have fast solid-state drives, so any performance improvements may not be noticeable.
What’s the best Mac cleaning software in the market?
MacKeeper does a pretty good job. It’s lightweight and you need not have any technical knowledge to use it. The interface is easy to understand and you can swiftly find junk files at the click of a button. It also comes with performance-optimization features that allows you to monitor your Mac’s memory and other resource-intensive processes in real-time.
Ava
Written ByAnthony Enticknap
I've been using Macs for both work and leisure for more than 15 years, starting off with a second-hand G3 iMac running OS 9.