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MacPaw's CleanMyMac X For Photographers

When I buy a Mac, I plan to get 3 or 4 years of solid use out of it. I max out the processor speed, the graphics card, fill it full of memory. Modern software continues to push the envelope of what the hardware can do, and it’s only a matter of time before my once speedy, shiny machine is looking long in the tooth.

My current iMac is 3 years old now. It runs pretty well, although I notice sluggishness from time to time. I’ve read articles on tidying up a Mac system and steps to take to keep it running at its peak performance. The problem is… I forget all the various steps and subsystems to go visit, because I don’t do it very often.

I’d read good things about MacPaw’s CleanMyMac X and decided to give it a try. In short, I’m quite happy with how it works and how easy it makes it to tidy up my Mac. If you have an aging Mac or are looking for a simple tool to monitor and scrub your Mac, download the free trial and check it out for yourself. If you’re running on Windows, MacPaw also has a CleanMyPC app as well. I haven’t tried it (I’m a Mac user) although I expect it works very similarly to the Mac version.

I did tweak the settings a little from the point of view of a photographer. There are certain features that either aren’t the best fit for my photo library. There are areas of my computer I simply don’t want any software other that my photo tools touching. I have details on the tweaks I made below, and I recommend making customizations before you run the initial scan. CleanMyMac won’t do anything destructive without my say-so… but hey, call me paranoid… when it comes to my photo library, I am very protective!

Basic Scan & Clean

The software is very simple to use. The first time CleanMyMac is launched, you execute a “Smart Scan” of your computer. It’s primarily looking for old or unnecessary cruft on your computer. One of the things that can slow down a system is an overly full hard disk. There are also a set of maintenance scripts and other under-the-hood cleanup tasks you can kick off, too.

Sure, I can empty the Trash… that’s straightforward and something I do periodically anyway. I liked how CleanMyMac rooted out things like older Mail attachments and other system junk. There are likely ways to clean mail accounts and find other unnecessary system files - but I don’t remember what they are. My brain can only hold so much information on how to run my computer, and I prefer to use those brain cells for photography related things. I appreciate how CleanMyMac pulls all of the scattered cleanup tools into a single interface.

Finding Large & OLD Files

Another strong feature of CleanMyMac is finding large and old files. For non-photographers, I think this feature is very useful. For the photography crowd, it’s less so. Most of my photo library is considered “old”. I have photos dating back decades, and I want to keep them. Also, many of my photo files are considered “large”. My Lightroom catalog is large (not the photos, just the catalog itself). It’s not uncommon at all to have Photoshop PSD files that are hundreds of megabytes in size, or even gigabytes. I also work a lot with video (if you haven’t checked out my photography videos on YouTube, have a peek!). Video files are large. 4K video files are huge. Video projects in Final Cut Pro or ScreenFlow are massive.

I’d welcome some improvements in CleanMyMac to filter certain types of files, like RAWs and PSDs. Or to tailor what’s considered “old” and doing so on a hard drive or folder basis. I do have a workaround - limit what CleanMyMac scans. More about that in a bit.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 6.32.17 PM markup.jpg

Login Items

If you’ve ever owned a computer for more than a couple of years, you’ve experienced the ever-expanding menu bar phenomenon. As applications come and go from your computer, some of those menu bar options never seem to go away. What’s even worse… there are sometimes little helper programs running to fuel these menu bar items. Often, these helpers launch at login. CleanMyMac lets you root them out and turn off the helpers you don’t need.

In the Optimization area, a list of login items is presented and you can disable the things you don’t want. CleanMyMac really shines here. In the screenshot I have in this article, only the two enabled items show up in the OS X System Preferences app. The two I have circled in blue I disabled via CleanMyMac. I have no idea where or how MacPaw found these things. I know they’re on my computer, and I know I don’t need them every time I log in.

Customizations For Photographers

Ok, Scott. So what about those customizations you made? There are two changes I made in the CleanMyMac X preferences.

  • I disabled the “Enable CleanMyMac Menu” in the Menu tab. Why? I just went through the trouble of tidying up my login items, and I don’t want another service running and taking up resources. One item I initially found confusing is the bold “Features are disabled because CleanMyMac is running from a disk image” warning in the Menu preference tab. At first, I thought I was running from one of those “dmg” disk image files. Nope… I wasn’t. All it means is the features in the Health and Monitoring area and Instruments area are grayed out. These are only available when the menu option is enabled.

    There is still an itty-bitty process that runs and periodically reminds me when it’s time to scan my Mac and see if things need cleaning. I’m good with that. I don’t need the entire CleanMyMac interface available to me at all times. For me, I want to maximize every resource I have to my photo apps.

  • I put my photo and video library on the Ignore List. Remember I said I was paranoid? I look for an ignore list or blacklist in any software that does scans of my computer. I added the folders holding my Lightroom catalog and the entire external drive with my photo library to the ignore list. I added my Movies folder for good measure since moves are typically large files.

Key Takeaways

CleanMyMac X is useful for me. I’ll be keeping it. It centralizes various upkeep and tidying tasks I’d otherwise have to re-learn every time I needed to clean up my machine. I also really like how it roots out those otherwise hidden login items.

It’s also got additional features like malware removal (which I hope I never need). And maybe improvements will come in the large and old files arena that will make it more useful, or more tailored, for photographers.

So… give CleanMyMac X or CleanMyPC a try for free. What have you got to lose? … except a few gigabytes of old cruft from your computer :-)