CleanMyMac X review: Tune-up Mac app hampered by its malware detection

CleanMyMac X is MacPaw’s catch-all software crud and gunk
remover for the Mac. This version swings for the fences, with
new features such as a malware scanner, extensions manager, and
a universal updater for all of your application programs. This
is in addition to CleanMyMac X’s core functions, which include
tools for smart cleanup, system junk, mail attachments, iTunes
junk, trash bins, a large and old files scanner, privacy
scanner, and application uninstaller.

cleanmymaxxmenubar IDG

CleanMyMac X’s new menu bar menu.

CleanMyMac X is also complimented by an improved menu bar menu
that can be clicked to take note of handy information such as
available hard drive space, available RAM, network connectivity
speed, CPU usage, and a quick means of opening your Dropbox
account. An improved Notification system lets you know which
programs are lagging or suspended, but isn’t as obtrusive as
seen in previous versions of CleanMyMac.

As with previous versions, the modules work well, and users can
either performed generalized, overarching system scans or
embrace a fair degree of customization and specify what they
want looked into and to what extent. CleanMyMac X has built on
its core strengths of finding gigabytes of assorted crud—cache
files, unused language files, and duplicate files—to clear up
room at a speedier pace than previous versions.

Handy modules

New modules such as Extensions and Updater come in handy. With
the Extensions module (which almost harkens back to Mac OS 9’s
Extensions Manager), you can quickly manage extensions without
having to dive too deeply into the macOS. The applications
updater, in turn, provides a quick means of finding every
application you have and updating them on the fly, which
becomes almost addictive in its ease of use and functionality.

As with CleanMyMac 3, the Large & Old Files module helps you
quickly see what files are devouring the most space on your
hard drive and quickly erase them at will. This pairs well with
the Uninstaller module, which helps you quickly locate your
application programs and erase them as well as their support
files to rid them from your Mac forever.


The Large & Old Files module.

All this combines with a decent new Maintenance module, which
offers an assortment of system-level clean up scripts (Free Up
RAM, Run Maintenance Scripts, Flush DNS Cache, Speed Up Mail,
Rebuild Launch Services, Reindex Spotlight, Repair Disk
Permissions) to help free up resources. The effort is
appreciated, but free utilities such as Titanium Software’s Onyx have historically done
this better with more modules and customization.

Malware module

Unfortunately, the Malware module is where things fall apart.
Over the course of days of testing, I installed several pieces
of known Mac malware and adware on a MacBook Pro running macOS
10.14.1 Mojave. These samples included MacKeeper, assorted
free-and-questionable video players, and entirely questionable
utilities that purport to speed up your Mac yet historically
find “infections,” change your web browser and search engine
preferences, activate the speaker to tell you that your Mac has
been corrupted, and advise you to call an 800 number where a
technician can help resurrect your computer for a fee.

Upon running CleanMyMac X’s Malware module, which claims to be
able to find and clean out malware with confidence, the module
missed every beat, locating none of the malware or adware and
happily reporting back that my Mac was clean, devoid of malware
and ready to go. I used a free version of Malwarebytes
to locate the malware, quarantine it, delete it, reboot my
MacBook Pro, and ensure that the malware was gone.

cleanmymacxmalware IDG

The Malware module reported a clean sheet during testing,
despite the fact that we purposely installed known malware
on the test platform. 

This presents an enormous problem and unless MacPaw improves
upon the malware module, this feels like you’ve opened the
gates to malware and adware on your Mac if you’re only using
CleanMyMac X for protection. MacPaw says that they are working
on an update to address this issue.

CleanMyMac X retails for $39.95 for a one-year subscription for
a single user and $89.95 for a one-time payment for a single
user with the MacPaw store offering different purchase tiers
depending on licensing needs. The software is available
in a trial version, which lets you run as many scans as you
want, clean up to 500MB of system junk, and run assorted tools
a limited number of times.

Bottom line

CleanMyMac X has a fair amount going for it, especially in
terms of its speed, new modules, and improved user interface,
and it could represent a significant step forward for the
program. Sadly, the Malware module seems to be where MacPaw has
shot itself in the foot and will need to spend a number of
caffeine-fueled evenings fixing this in a forthcoming update.
Still, this doesn’t have to be an absolute deal breaker, and,
if coupled with a focused malware utility such as Malwarebytes,
CleanMyMac X does offer its own advantages with its core
advantage of removing gigabytes upon gigabytes of system junk
in tact and worth consideration.

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