Do you really need cleaning tools like Mackeeper?
Macs are great machines, and require relatively low ‘maintenance’ than PCs, but if you own a Mac, it is a good idea to have some kind of junk cleaning and performance optimization tool on your Mac. The two most popular tools are Mackeeper and Clean My Mac (reviewed here).
There has been much talk about Mackeeper on the internet lately. Some say it’s a scam. Some say it’s a legit cleaning tool for Mac. The controversy ignited the curiosity in me, and I figured I’d get a license and try it out myself.
Here’s my honest, in-depth review of Mackeeper.
What is Mackeeper?
Mackeeper is a suite of cleaning and optimization tools for Mac. Here’s what their Wikipedia page says:
MacKeeper is a utility software suite for Mac OS X that has tools for cleaning, security, and optimization. It is heavily promoted and has been the subject of a class-action lawsuit for false advertising.
Notice the underlined part. Kromtech Alliance is the company behind Mackeeper and PCKeeper and, let’s just say, they’re not afraid of putting Mackeeper in front of their potential customers.
Needless to say, there has been a lot of controversial reports about Mackeeper slowing down Macs, users not being able to uninstall it from their computers and so on.
Is Mackeeper a Scam?
Let’s define “scam” first. Here’s the Oxford Definition:
A dishonest scheme; a fraud:
Now, Mackeeper is not a fraud. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s cleaning utility and it does clean junk from your Mac.
Yes, Kromtech and their affiliates do some aggressive advertising to promote Mackeeper but in my opinion, that does not make the product a “scam”. I didn’t notice any performance issues after installing Mackeeper on my Macbook Air 2013 (old, I know).
One of the reasons Mackeeper is hated so much in the Mac community is its shady marketing tactics. They advertise everywhere, even on the sites they shouldn’t. Here’s one such example:
If you search for CleanMyMac, which is their rival Mac cleaning product, you’ll see Mackeeper’s ad there too.
If that’s not aggressive advertising, I don’t know what is.
They company talks about its ad policy here: https://mackeeper.com/remove-ads
Shady tactics like this give Mackeeper a bad name.
On to the hands-on review of Mackeeper v3.11.3 on macOS Sierra v10.12:
Download and Installation:
After getting the license key, I downloaded Mackeeper from their download page. For some reason, even Google Chrome gave me a warning when downloading the Mackeeper .pkg file. Oops.
I ignored the warning and installed the tool. Here is how the main window looks:
There are a bunch of tools to select from the left sidebar. Let’s try them one by one.
My Macbook Air has 4 GB of RAM, and I do give it a run for its money with all the apps I have open at the same time. I managed to free up some memory using the Memory Cleaner tool as can be seen in the screenshots below.
If you download a lot of stuff from the internet and move it around a lot, chances are you might have a few duplicate files sitting on your hard drive. It doesn’t make much difference if the files are of small size (like in my case) but de-duping can free up some storage if the dupe files are bigger in size e.g. video files, ISOs, etc.
In case you’re not already aware, just deleting the app file does not uninstall that app from your Mac. There are leftover files that need to be removed too. This is where the Smart Uninstaller tool comes in handy.
I didn’t uninstall any application from my Mac using it, but it is a pretty simple tool that will remove the leftover files when you choose to uninstall an application through it.
This module can recover the files you’ve removed from your hard drive. Well, some of them.
When you press the scan button, it will take a bit of time to perform a full scan. I stopped it after a few minutes, and it told me it could recover a few files. I didn’t need the files, though, so I didn’t give recovering those files a try.
I don’t feel the need for this tool as I think a much better approach is to always back up your data and be careful when deleting files. In case you lose your data, you can recover all of it from the backup. Much better option.
Not all users need to hide data on their hard drive, but for those who do, this tool is pretty handy. Here’s how it works:
- You set up a password at first use.
- You can then ‘log in’ to the Data Encryptor tool and view your hidden files and unhide them.
Personally, I’m the only user of my Macbook Air, so I don’t need to hide any files. In case you share your Mac with someone else and need to hide personal files, you could use this.
Again, I’m not a huge fan of the idea of relying on third-party tools to secure your files. You can achieve the same purpose without having to use any third-party tools.
You can use this tool to add/remove programs to your startup. Pretty simple.
If you have a lot of files on your Mac, there may be some large files that are no longer needed. This module scans your hard drive and tells you which file/folder is taking how much space so you can decide whether or not you want to keep it there.
Again, a pretty simple tool to change the default apps for various file types.
You can also change the default apps using the Finder.
Finally a useful tool. The Fast Cleanup tool scans your Mac for junk files and gives you the choice of deleting them right within the Mackeeper interface. I performed a quick scan, and it found 1.2GB of junk files on my hard drive.
As you can see, these files include binaries, cache files, logs, etc. You can safely delete them to free up some space on your Mac.
If you’ve got some files that you permanently want to delete without leaving the possibility to recover them using some data recovery software, you can use the Mackeeper Shredder to “shred’ them. Just select a file, and it will delete/shred it permanently. Comes in handy sometimes.
How much does Mackeeper cost?
There is a free trial that you can avail by clicking this link. If you like it and decide to buy it, there are 4 plans to choose from. Here’s the price rundown of each plan:
1 months : $14.95/moth billed every month
6 months : $9.94/moth $59.64 billed every 6 months
12 months : $7.95/moth i.e. $95.40 billed every year
24 months : $4.95/moth i.e. $118.80 billed every 2 years
The 24 & 12 months plans also have some added features that the smaller plans don’t such as Security Updates, Personal Tech Advisor, 24/7 Expert Support, Long term saving plan and also provide the best value if you look at the per month amount.
Things I disliked about Mackeeper:
- Their heavy advertising is annoying. I wouldn’t put too much trust in a company that advertises popups on torrent sites. I’m not okay with giving mackeeper access to my personal/sensitive data.
- You can not quit completely quit mackeeper. It always sits there in the menu bar and if you want to quit it, well… there’s no way to do that. This is a major privacy issue. It’s okay if they want to let it sit there and monitor RAM usage, for example. But forcing it down the users’ throat is totally unacceptable.
Where can I buy it?
Click here to donwload it right away (Direct download link):
Should I really buy Mackeeper? Is there any alternative?
I’ve listed my 2 major concerns about Mackeeper. I still think the product itself is not bad. Its their tactics that are giving it a bad name.
But if you’re looking for a more minimalistic, simpler tool with much less controversy and negative reviews, check out CleanMyMac. It has fewer bells and whistles but gets the job done just as well.
Edit: Here’s a complete review of CleanMyMac.