CCleaner for Mac: As Good as Windows?

CCleaner for Mac: As Good as Windows?

If you are a Mac or PC user you have to make sure your machine is regularly “cleaned.” This means employing some kind of software to automatically scan through the machine and remove unnecessary file clutter for speed and to save space.

For years the standard in PC cleaner software has been CCleaner, and now Mac users can benefit from the experience that the Piriform developers bring to the table. In this article we will look at a new free Mac version and see how it compares to its older brother on Windows.

Basic Features

Installing and running is easy. Just go to the download page and download the .dmg file. After opening the disk image, drag the icon to the alias for the Applications directory, then navigate to your Applications directory and run the software.


Running the software opens a window with two buttons: one for analysing the system and one for runnning the Cleaner. This purges your system from detected files which can be safely removed. There are tools and options menus, too, but those two buttons are the things you’ll make the most use of.


Both the Windows and Mac free versions contain the same two basic features described on the website as “faster computer” and “privacy protection.” What this boils down to in real terms is the primary use of cleaning software, that is to say safely and securely scanning your system intelligently for anything which might be deemed superfluous and erasing it. Plus, you get the bonus benefit of privacy protection via the cleaning of cookies, history and other browser data. (Safari is cleaned by default, being a Mac, but other browsers can be selected in the Applications tab.)

CCleaner has the dual purpose of making your machine leaner and faster but also reducing clutter in ways that would takes hours, if not days, to do manually and with the need for a lot of research to properly identify files and their purpose before deleting.

CCleaner has a lot of Windows experience with this kind of work, and Piriform developers have decided to bring this technology to the Mac because although OS X is a usually very tidy operating system, it still generates a lot of junk if you don’t keep an eye on it. Being able to address this routinely and easily is a huge boon.

Obviously, although CCleaner has a free product, there is a premium level, and it would be remiss of us not to note the differences.

Mac Premium Features

As well as the basic features on the Mac version, if you pay for the upgrade to the premium level of the product you also have Automatic Browser Cleaning, Real-time Monitoring, Automatic Updating and what they call “Priority Support.” This is an extra to make up for the lack of a Premium Plus level upgrade path like there is on the Windows platform.

Windows Premium Features

At the premium level on the Windows version you have Complete Cleaning, Real-time Monitoring, and Automatic Updating. For an extra $10 at the Plus level you also have Defragmentation, File Recovery and Hardware Analysis. These are fairly advanced features and very welcome on Windows where there is less operating system intervention or “training wheels” (as there is on OS X) and much more free access to the lower levels of the system by users which is a good thing if you love to hit the metal, so to speak.


Clearly the premium features on both platforms are not important at the free level, as the offerings for the Mac and PC version are for all intents and purposes the same. The main differences occur when rising to the Premium level by paying a fee. On the Windows version (and the higher cost Plus version not available to Mac users) you have a much wider toolset of features.

Whether these higher level features will be available to Mac users in the future is not clear, but as a Mac user you can console yourself realizing that the plus features are less important in a Mac environment where the OS takes care of a lot of that sort of maintenance automatically. In any case the upgrade to the premium product is only $19.99 and doesn’t necessarily represent a major expense.

If you have any questions or observations about CCleaner for Mac, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Phil South
Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He's designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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