A guide to Mac optimization software

A new Mac always seems to be lightning quick. But then it might slow down up to 17% when its disk is near complete (confirmed by MacWorld in a test). And there we got a whole world of Mac optimization apps. Some of them are good enough that even Apple employees use them (Guy Kawasaki, for one). So here are some absolutely essential Mac optimizers to check in 2023.

These are the top 3 optimizers that look most optimistic to us (sorry for the pun). We've chosen these among hundreds of others mentioned on Mac Forums.

1CleanMyMac X
Includes tools for optimizing your Mac, securely deleting files, and scanning for malware.Link
2AVGQuick scan and deep cleaning of all kinds of junkLink
3OnyxAllows you to adjust parameters that would normally need to be set in TerminalLink

All three are aimed at basic Mac housekeeping. And now, let's dive into these options, and then we'll analyze a few more relevant alternatives. 

Best Mac Optimizer software reviewed

Made by an independent macOS developer, MacPaw, this app tops our chart.

1. CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X - Login items

This app, which is notarized by Apple, is absolutely gorgeous visually. But it also sports 49 tools to optimize a Mac in one app. It has a free version you can download and play around with.

Inside, you’ll find a full range of tools that will declutter your Mac, make it run faster, and even scan it for malware and remove whatever it finds. One of the great things about CleanMyMac X is that you choose how much control you take over what it removes.

In terms of Mac optimization, you can:

  • Free up RAM
  • Disable heavy memory consumers
  • Run Maintenance scripts

It’s worth checking if you want to improve your Mac’s performance.

2. AVG Cleaner

AVG Cleaner has two functions — finding and removing “junk”’ files on your Mac and identifying duplicate files and making it easy to remove them. The files AVG Cleaner tracks down include cache files from web browsers, apps, photos, and videos; log files; download history; broken downloads; and Trash contents.

When you launch the app, you’ll see it has a clean, modern interface that allows you to scan your Mac for files to clean or scan for duplicates. Once you’ve chosen the Disc Cleaner and the scan is complete, you can press a button to clean up the files or view them in more detail and decide which to delete and which to keep. If you choose to scan for duplicates, AVG Cleaner will ask which folders you want to scan and then show you what it found.

AVG Cleaner is free, l looks great, and works well. However, compared with CleanMyMac X, it lacks many features. These include a malware removal tool, secure file deletion, optimization tools, and an app uninstaller.

3. OnyX

Like most of the apps listed here, OnyX is more than just optimization software for your Mac. It also has several tools for cleaning your Mac. However, OnyX also does something that no other tool listed here does: it allows you to adjust settings on your Mac that are otherwise only available through the Terminal app. It’s more of a customizer for your macOS.

Whether you want to rebuild a database or index or just change the default location or file format for screenshots, you can do it in OnyX. In terms of optimization tools, OnyX can clean up system files and browser data, rebuild Spotlight and Launch Services databases, run maintenance scripts and clean up recent items lists.

However, it doesn’t have a secure file deletion tool or malware scanner. And it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as the tools we’ve described above. If you like playing around with settings and getting under the hood of your Mac, though, it’s a good choice.

4. Drive Genius

Drive Genius started many years ago as a tool for monitoring the performance of your drive, warning you of any potential problems and allowing you to fix them. It has evolved into a tool for optimizing performance and cleaning up drives and keeping them safe.

Some of its features, such as re-partition, rebuild, and de-fragment, don’t work on APFS drives, but the others do. Those other tools include a malware scanner and removal tool, a secure erase utility and tools for finding and removing duplicate and large files. In addition to those, Drive Genius still has tools for identifying potential problems that could lead to drive failure and allows you to fix them.

It’s not as user-friendly as similar apps and doesn’t include an application uninstaller and tools for removing login items and launch agents.

5. macOS Manage Storage

Manage Storage is a feature that’s built into recent versions of macOS. To access it, click on the Apple menu, then About this Mac > Storage > Manage Storage.

When you do that, you’ll see a list of categories on the left-hand side of the window that opens. At the top are Recommendations. This is where macOS helps you easily free up storage space by recommending what to get rid of. For example, it might suggest that you store files in iCloud and only keep recent ones on your Mac or that you allow the OS to delete Apple TV downloads you’ve already watched.

The other categories cover things like Mail attachments, Garageband sound libraries, podcasts, and iOS backups. You just click on each section in turn and follow the advice in the window.

Manage Storage is a very useful tool and can certainly help free up storage space. However, it is not a replacement for a tool like CleanMyMac X because there is no app uninstaller, and there are no tools to remove junk files or optimize performance.

6. CCleaner

CCleaner is one of the oldest cleaner tools around, having been available on the Mac for nearly a decade and on Windows before that. It offers tools to get rid of junk files cluttering up your Mac, remove cookies, history files, and other web browser data, and disable login items and launch agents. It also has an app uninstaller, and the professional version offers real-time protection against potentially harmful files you may download.

Like most tools here, you can follow its recommendations and remove files with just a few clicks, or review the files it finds and choose which to remove yourself.

CCleaner has many of the tools available in CleanMyMac X. However, it’s not as easy to use, in our opinion, thanks to its less friendly user interface. It also doesn’t have a tool to allow you to quickly see what files are occupying space on your Mac, like CleanMyMac X’s Space Lens or a way of securely shredding sensitive files.

7. Disk Clean Pro

Disk Clean Pro offers many of the same tools as the other cleaners here. You can use its automated utilities to quickly get rid of junk files, logs, crash reports, and partial downloads. And you can also use it to identify and remove duplicate files, old files, large files, and downloads. There are also tools to remove browser files, outdated backups, and mail downloads. 

Like CCleaner, however, its interface isn’t the friendliest. Also, there are no tools for scanning for malware, securely deleting files, or uninstalling apps. 

Does Mac optimization involve cleaning? 

Many of the tools above belong to the category of cleaners, so why place them here? To answer that, we should define “optimization” more clearly. If optimization means improving the performance, it entails a bit of cleaning that improves something by elimination. To optimize any computer, one should start with removing blockages, massive unwanted objects, and apps that eat up a lot of memory.

There are lots of applications that can optimize your Mac’s performance and make it run more smoothly. Most of these apps are paid, but you can get away with a free version in some cases.

Instead, we would pick CleanMyMac X for the sheer number of features and its looks, but the choice is yours.