When it comes to Mac optimization, choosing the right software can be a hard decision, especially if you don't want to fill your computer with tons of apps. So there are several factors you should consider before you even download an app, particularly whether it is user friendly or not and how much it will cost you. Ask yourself: will I understand what it does when it performs a task? Can I automate tasks? What kind of features does it pack, and which ones will I need to use the most? These are all questions we answer in our reviews of CleanMyMac, a paid and much favored Mac optimization solution, and the free software OnyX that has a long-standing reputation in the field. In this comparison you’ll get more insights into how the qualities of the two compare to each other.
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Designed by Titanium Software, OnyX is free Mac maintenance and optimization software that has been around since OS X Jaguar in 2002, and so it has had a ‘few’ years of experience in this area. OnyX has a nice, clean user interface that provides you with details of what you are about to do using this third-party software. Some tasks – such as repairing disk permissions and clearing out various different cache files – can be done manually, but with OnyX there are specific scripts listed under different menu items, including maintenance, clearing, automation, utilities, parameters, info and log. Select any of these and you'll find additional information about the task you are going to perform.
OnyX requires your input before selecting each task but, unlike some of its rival (and paid) apps, it doesn't give the user the option to go through the files it is going to delete after you hit the “Execute” button.
After launching OnyX, the app will prompt you to verify the startup drive and it will do so every time you relaunch it. And if you are performing a thorough cleaning – recommended from time to time to keep your Mac clean and to optimize its performance – then you'll need to restart your computer a couple times, such as after emptying the system, user and font caches. You can stop the prompt by selecting “Don’t check” in Preferences > Advanced.
If you don't want to perform every task manually then OnyX has an automation option, which will perform a handful of maintenance, rebuilding and cleaning actions you can select by checking the boxes.
One of the most appealing features of CleanMyMac, the paid Mac optimization software developed by Ukraine-based MacPaw, is its pleasant user interface that focuses on visually guiding the user through the task with nicely designed elements that shorten the learning curve.
But the software is not short on useful features, either, such as Smart Cleanup, which has CleanMyMac scour your computer’s most hidden spots for ‘trash’ such as caches and system, photo, mail and iTunes junk files. Those last three are especially useful to empty since they build up over time. In our testing, using CleanMyMac helped us to reclaim 18GB of storage space, of which mail attachments accounted for 5GB.
The feature that will locate large and old files can help you to remove them, but only once you’ve selected them for deletion. This is an advantage that CleanMyMac has over OnyX: you can review the files you are about to erase and deselect any you want to keep. As for system maintenance tasks, CleanMyMac includes a set of scripts to optimize your disk's performance, resolve various app errors and more.
CleanMyMac is available as a free download, but you will need to purchase a license – at $39.95 – to unlock all the features the app incorporates.
Both OnyX and CleanMyMac offer powerful features that you will need in order to reclaim that ‘lost’ space and optimize your hard drive or flash drive. It is up to you to decide whether the extra features that CleanMyMac offers, such as reviewing the files before deletion and the removal of unwanted photos, mail attachments, and large and old files is worth the $39.95 price tag. On the other hand, OnyX includes the basic maintenance and Mac optimization scripts you need to get your computer rolling again for free.