The ‘Leo and Mac’ Reader Roundup #3: CleanMyMac 3 Met with Fire & Fury

Welcome to this third edition of Reader Roundup for the “Leo and Mac” column here on Low End Mac, where we take a look at a sampling of reactions shared by readers on articles I’ve written.

All individuals personally identified in this Reader Roundup have agreed to such and have their comments published verbatim (with minor edits for publication) from either emails sent in or posted in the Low End Mac (“LEM” for short), Facebook group. Any individuals not specifically identified either declined to be and/or could not be reached to secure permission to do so.

CleanMyMac 3

The article in reference is from earlier this year back in June, Make Your Old Mac New Again With CleanMyMac 3 (since updated to CleanMyMac X), which was, in essence, my review of the app from MacPaw, creators of desktop software applications for the Mac and mobile apps for iOS (and also one Windows application). I say in essence because I did not actually try out the software myself in order to write the article. I used the available information on the company’s website as well as contacted a representative of MacPaw, Eugene Kalnyk, their PR and communications specialist who answered all of my questions for the story.

CleanMyMac 3

CleanMyMac 3 (Photo: MacPaw)

My story was literally hot off the press in two ways, first in terms of only having been shared in a post to the LEM Facebook group (which took place six days after it was initially posted on the actual website) and before it had a chance to cool off and settle down — which some group members certainly could have used as a suggestion for themselves — the article was “met with fire and fury” to quote the current commander-in-chief in office, and the heated comments started to roll in, the second reason for being hot off the press. It was an unexpected reaction to my article, and I have never written a story before that garnered such instant disdain!

Fire and Fury

One member thought the post was spam, while the other demanded that the group admins take my post down. Another member claimed the software was fraudulent and what the app purports to do was misleading.

One particular member of the group that declined to be identified claimed that CleanMyMac 3 was malware, even adding that it was as bad as MacKeeper, (a similar, albeit notorious, piece of software that many Mac users loathe and have classified as malware due to the developer’s deceptive practices) said, “I could be wrong but I used to manage a help desk at a university and this looks like one of the apps we would dig deep into Mac file systems to remove and upon removing it, the Macs would speed back up to normal.”

Later they seemingly would retract their statement — not saying whether the app they removed from computers was indeed CleanMyMac 3 and still doubting the purpose of the product — and said:

However, after conferring with some former coworkers, they indeed confirmed my suspicion. The original creator of the app may have created something useful but third parties may be the cause of us seeing this as malware. Unfortunately, far too many people download apps from unreliable sources and hose their computers. Besides, even if the original app is legit, it looks like it does things that can be achieved by rebooting either normally or into safe mode or simply running some basic Terminal commands.

Unsubstantiated Claims

Our own Dan Knight, the publisher of Low End Mac, asked that member to provide evidence of their claim — and if validated the article would be removed. He also said, “It takes more than a ‘looks like’ to label something malware.”

Knight responded to the member who claimed the software was fraudulent, and said, “It is also useless to call something fraudulent without evidence.”

For the record, none of the members who made accusatory comments against my article could provide any proof to back up their claims that the product was malware nor was it evident that they had even tried out the software at all, making it a bit puzzling to warrant their baseless claims in the first place.

Knight, who stood by my article 100%, also told the group, “This is a link to a product review on Low End Mac. It is not spam. You may or may not like the program but that is another matter entirely.”

Another point of contention by the members of the group was that my story was just an advertisement for the product, while another asked if Low End Mac had been paid by the software developer for me writing the article. One member even joked with their comment, “And now! A word about our sponsor, LOL!”

I replied to the members’ comments and explicitly said that Low End Mac was not paid for the article being written, adding my two cents that if one does not like the software or the story I wrote, then you don’t have to use it or read it, and I didn’t understand where the hate was coming from.

I chose to do a feature story on this app by MacPaw after seeing the tagline for the software in the subject line of an email from a company called StackCommerce that regularly sells merchandise at discounts for group purchases and is partnered with publishing sites like Macworld and Cult of Mac magazines. I have purchased deals from them in the past from their “Pay What You Want” app bundles, individual software titles, to online courses and certifications. The email promoting CleanMyMac 3 had the subject line “make your old Mac new again” and this caught my attention, and while you now know that I did not buy or install the software, it led to me writing my feature piece on the app for Low End Mac, since we specialize in older Macs and this software’s forte is optimizing an older Mac full of junk, which I learned after doing research on the product.

CleanMyMac Users Respond

Coming to the rescue in defense of my article and the product were these three group members who are all owners of either the current or past version of CleanMyMac, and in addition to their comments from the LEM Facebook group, two of them were asked a round of questions with the knowledge that their responses would be published here.

A User Responds

Esa Ruoho, 40, of Helsinki, Finland who is a manual tester, one-on-one Mac OS/iOS tutor, and musician (check out his web page), said, “CleanMyMac 3 is not malware like MacKeeper. I actually like it and use it! It’s a good app.”

He added, “Randall Paulin, MacKeeper is still trash. MacPaw and CleanMyMac 3 have never been trash.” (Paulin, whose comment Ruoho was directly responding to, is a member you will hear from a bit later in this Reader Roundup.).

I asked Ruoho what he had to say to those people who think or claim that CleanMyMac 3 is malware and why he thought they compare it to MacKeeper. He responded:

Maybe it’s the name? Nobody ever accuses OnyX of being a malware app. Maybe it is easy to put these types of apps in a pile and call them all bad. I think a lot of people mistake MacKeeper and CleanMyMac to be the same app or similar apps. I’ve seen this on Finnish Mac Facebook groups, too, where people will start asking for admins to ban whoever mentions an app (like CleanMyMac 3) they believe to be as fraudulent and as malware-ish as MacKeeper.

Onyx is an app with numerous system utilities from Titanium Software which was discussed by members of the group and will be talked about shortly.

For CleanMyMac 3, I wanted to know how Ruoho learned about the product and how long he’s been using it to maintain his Mac. He said:

I think I came across CleanMyMac and Gemini by reading the regular Mac blogs/sites that some of you read, too. It could’ve been anything from OSXDaily to AppleInsider, to MacRumors, to Cult of Mac or 9to5Mac, Daring Fireball or LoopInsight, or MacObserver. Can’t remember anymore. I mostly use it for daily log/cache cleans and sometimes for uninstalling apps that I need to get rid of. Sometimes I check up on huge file sizes just to see if there might be something there that I could remove. I tend to also use it for getting rid of iTunes and iOS clutter. Oh, and getting rid of languages I’ll never use. I deal with the English language Mac OS and removing Finnish and Russian is not an option, so the rest can go.

Just to be clear, Ruoho divulged his relation to the company that created CleanMyMac 3.

I am not an employee of MacPaw, I have just been buying their products and using them at home, at work, and with clients. I did, however, beta-test the Setapp, their app subscription service, for a while but did not end up becoming a paying customer.

Setapp, another app from MacPaw, was discussed briefly in my original article as mentioned by their PR and communications specialist in relation to CleanMyMac 3.

Ruoho told us that while he is a member of the LEM Facebook group, he is not a regular reader of the website. As far as his low-end Macs go? “I recently upgraded from a nine-year-old MacBook Pro 15-inch bought around mid-2009 and set it up for my wife, and she’s running on that now,” he said. “I also have an older Mac mini 2009 for running Rosetta apps with.”

Rosetta was an application built into Intel versions of Mac OS X beginning with Tiger version 10.4 that ran seamlessly and unseen in the background. (Rosetta is not an emulator, Apple says that “Rosetta dynamically translates most of your PowerPC-based applications to work with your Intel-based Mac. There’s no emulation.”) It allows almost all PowerPC software to run on versions of Mac OS X for Intel-based Macs prior to Lion. Rosetta was discontinued with the release of Mac OS X Lion version 10.7.

Another User Responds

Jeroen Vrijenhoek, 35, of Ohio. who has been supporting Apple products since 1998, is an Apple Technician, and also a writer here on Low End Mac (as Jay Vrij), said:

CleanMyMac is a good app, no malware, no shady practices, etc. Comparing it with apps like MacKeeper is just plain ignorance. That said, there are features that should be used with caution, just like Onyx for example (another great app). I’ve been using CleanMyMac since day one, it has never caused issues. Can it make existing issues worse? Yes, it can, as would a software update or any other kind of maintenance utility. But that’s why we have backups. Great app, highly recommended!

Vrijenhoek, who prefers to go by Jay, added, “Joe Leo, It’s all ‘I don’t like it because someone I know doesn’t like it’ or ‘because I read somewhere it sucks.’ Those with personal experience that use it properly know better. Good article dude! 👍🏻”

He would elaborate more on his last comment when he answered my round of questions for this Reader Roundup. Vrij wrote:

Cleaner apps have a bad reputation because of apps such as MacKeeper. In general, any kind of cleaner app is seen as unnecessary and a source of crashes and other issues. In the past, there have been cleaner apps that cleaned too much and in doing so stripped vital system components or broke them. There have also been cleaner apps that were nothing more than scareware. CleanMyMac has very strict rules on what it can and can’t touch, they have always done their homework to ensure their features do not cause damage to any files, apps or the system itself.

Most of the people that say cleaner apps are malware, garbage, useless, etc. just read or heard this somewhere and repeat it as fact. Never having done the research or never having done any tests themselves. Sources such as the Apple Support Forums perpetrate this as well. Quite a few high ranking members dismiss any cleaner app as a scam or malware immediately without having any personal experience with the app in question. Because these are respected members of the Apple Community, people take their word for it and start spreading that same nonsense themselves.

On using CleanMyMac 3, Vrijenhoek had this to say.

With hard drives still relatively small and expensive in the early 2000s, apps that offered to strip all of the non-essentials so you could free up a few GB of space were pretty popular. PPC users had no need for Intel code in Universal Binary apps, and Intel users had no need for the PPC code in apps; these utilities would get rid of the code that did not support your platform and make apps faster and free up a bunch of space.

PPC is short for referring to the PowerPC chip that was formerly used by Apple, Inc. in Macs starting with the 601 CPU in 1994 and up through the G5 processors used in iMacs and Power Macs prior to the current era of Intel chips.

“When my, at the time, go to app XSlimmer became less reliable than I liked, the search for an alternative started. This is when I found CleanMyMac, around 2009 or 2010,” said Vrijenhoek. “It did everything I needed it to do and it did so well. I’ve been updating and upgrading versions as they have been released since and the app has never let me down once.”

Uninstalling software is my most used feature, something I used AppZapper for in the past. Managing and disabling system extensions, plug-ins and other system components I don’t need are also features I use frequently. Stripping languages from apps to slim them down is something I still occasionally do as well but this is more for the ‘why not?’ than it serving a useful purpose. With SSD speeds and capacities these days, stripping some language files from an app makes no difference in performance anyway. Scanning for large Mail attachments and moving/deleting them is a feature I appreciate as I use it often on client machines that habitually trigger full mailbox warnings.

Vrijenhoek said that he is not an employee of MacPaw or a software developer with a contract, has not been paid to use and promote CleanMyMac 3, nor does he have any friends or relatives who fit that bill. However, he did tell us, “I did sign up for their affiliate program earlier this year as I linked to their products on but I’ve not received a dime from that to date.”

The website is an online database that not only provides specs for the serial number of the Mac you enter but also gives you other useful information such as available upgrades, links to helpful resources, how much your computer is currently worth, whether there is an Apple recall for your machine, and more.

While Vrijenhoek is one of its writers, he said he is not a regular reader of Low End Mac and only peruses its content on occasion. “I’ll admit I am far more active on the LEM Facebook group than I am on the website,” he said. “It’s in my RSS feed though so if something pops up I’ll at least scroll through to see what a new article is about.”

And what is the most current low-end machine he is running these days?

Vrijenhoek said:

My most current low-end Mac is a 2002 Mirrored Drive Doors (MDD) G4. I managed to fry the dual 1.25 GHz while hosting a pretty intense Unreal Tournament game (shoutout to the PPC Gaming Lounge group!) so by the time your Reader Roundup is posted a Sonnet dual 1.8 GHz upgrade should be fitted and the MDD will be up and running again.

As far as his preferred operating system goes, he said, “There is only one OS worth my time for PPC and that is 10.4.11 Tiger so that’s what the MDD runs. Dual boot SSD with Mac OS 9.2.2 of course, which shares the No. 1 best PPC OS with Tiger. Each has its strengths.”

Sidebar: PPC Gaming Lounge

PPC Gaming Lounge

PPC Gaming Lounge

The PPC Gaming Lounge is a Facebook group that is dedicated to Mac gaming through the PowerPC platform. According to Knight, it is loosely affiliated with Low End Mac, having its origins among members of the Low End Mac Facebook group, but while an associated group, it is run separately. Vrijenhoek, who recently took over the helm as one of its admins, although is not the creator of the group, said that while it is still young they have daily games and tournaments every few weeks with their different selection of games expanding. Started in April of this year, the gaming lounge has over 220 members so far and continues to grow.

A Third User Responds

The third group member who uses CleanMyMac 3 but did not reply to my request to be identified and interviewed for inclusion in this Reader Roundup, said, “Have been using it for a long time not experiencing anything negative. Any more details?”

Their last remark came from the many naysayers of the product but their worries were unwarranted since no one ever came forward with proof that CleanMyMac 3 was indeed malware.

Onyx, the app that both Ruoho and Vrijenhoek previously mentioned — which like CleanMyMac 3, is a multifunction utility that performs maintenance and cleaning tasks among other things — was another topic of discussion brought into the fold between the LEM Facebook group members. Some even asked why Apple doesn’t have this type of software available, to which another member replied that Apple does but it is done through system scripts, and software like Onyx or CleanMyMac 3 only provide the GUI (graphical user interface). Some even debated whether a fresh install of the OS wouldn’t be a better alternative to using these cleaning apps.

‘Justifiably Wary’

One member who is not a user of the CleanMyMac 3 app is Randall Paulin, 52, of the Dallas, Texas area who is a software/hardware developer. He said, “I think a lot of people are justifiably wary of products like this given the proliferation of trash on windows and the past behavior of MacKeeper (though they have cleaned up their act some).”

Remember Ruoho’s comment about CleanMyMac not being trash in direct response to Paulin?

When asked why he thought the majority of group members feel that the software is like MacKeeper, which is widely considered to be malware by the Mac community, Paulin said, “CleanMyMac 3’s advertised  functions look similar to some shady adware type products which try to get installed and running in the menubar that are a gateway to pushing other unrequested services or products.   Many people have a bad taste from MacKeeper marketing and are wary, as they should be.”

So, is that the reason he doesn’t use the cleaning software app from MacPaw on his Mac? “I don’t use it, because I feel that the machine keeps itself maintained decently and I manually check things,” said Paulin. “I find what it offers to be unnecessary.”

On the company itself, which Paulin obviously has no affiliation with whatsoever, he did have this to say about them.

I heard about MacPaw when researching duplicate file finders, and the Gemini product looks promising even though I went with a different solution. I did evaluate it for my own use a year or so back, but decided to stay old school. They seem like a decent company, and cleaners are an obvious low hanging fruit and introductory product. Thing is, Macs and Linux just don’t suffer from the same ‘cruft’ as Windows. I still think their Gemini duplicate search would be more useful for most folks. (speaking as someone with 12TB of files on my main mac).

Gemini 2 is another app from MacPaw that finds duplicate files on your computer and, similar to CleanMyMac 3, allows you to delete the files in order to recover space on your hard drive.

And the number one question I ask of everyone, which is about being a regular reader of the Low End Mac website, Paulin gets kudos for his response. “Yes. [It’s a] wonderful resource!”

Hopefully, he has found our website to be a wonderful resource for helping maintain and/or upgrade his four low-end Macs — which Paulin said are all in various states of delayed restoration — the oldest a Macintosh Classic running Mac System 6.0.x and the newest a Power Mac G5 running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Though I highly doubt he needs much help from our website due to the fact that he has been working with Apples since the late 1970s and Macs pretty much from its start.

“I acquired used machines randomly since, like most LEM folk, I love the old beasties. Got a lot of work done on them in the 80s and 90s when windows wished it could get some love,” he said.

Sidebar: A Background in Coin-op Gaming

An interesting footnote Paulin wanted to share at the end of the interview was that he used to be in the coin-op game industry for many years, noting that he bought a Macintosh SE/30 new to do color graphics work back when he was building arcade games and pinball machines and still has it among his four working low-end Macs.

He also mentioned that he was part of the team comprised of a group of friends that built a Kickstarter project called the Impulse Controller, which was a Bluetooth device that was an accessory for playing retro video games on phones and tablets. Naturally, as one would expect, his background and work in the coin-op gaming industry influenced him to work on the invention.

“I met a couple of creative guys in L.A.  in mid-2012 that had the rough idea to do a retro game controller and needed tech help,” said Paulin.

It took us longer than we hoped to get the whole thing designed and efficient and made in the U.S.A. It was quite a fun project and a labor of love. I helped the team refine it and designed the circuit/PCB etc. I engineered it and oversaw the firmware (in retrospect I should have written it, but we had a partner who slowly produced that). The team developed the original idea into the portable final concept and designed and produced everything. A wonderful experience. Some loved it, some hated it. I consider it a success…

However, despite that success, he said, “Apple introduced the MFI gamepad spec as we were building it and really messed with the game controller market.” (MFI, for the uninitiated, stands for “made for iPod/iPhone/iPad” and is a developer licensing program from Apple for accessories certified to be compatible with those three iOS devices.)

Most of our users ended up using classic emulators on Android. We had an app to help orient people, but it basically extended the iCade keyboard protocol for iOS and was a gamepad/keyboard on other platforms. We had little luck getting developer attention more than the iCade did.

Unfortunately, the iCade controller, which originally was designed for the iPad and later came in a mobile version for the iPhone and iPod touch, was what brought forth the demise of his team’s Kickstarter project. The Impulse Controller shipped in mid-2013 and sold close to 20,000 devices. The product is no longer available for sale but can be found used on the aftermarket in places like eBay. Any that are purported to be brand new are most likely to, according to Paulin, be cheap knock-offs missing key features like multi-function firmware.

MacPaw Responds

Back to the main topic at hand for this Reader Roundup, I would be remiss if I didn’t give MacPaw a chance to respond to the group members’ claims (accusations?) that their CleanMyMac 3 was malware and responding to my round of questions via email on the matter was company representative Julia Petryk, PR and media manager.

“Thank you for your interest and contribution into spreading the word about CleanMyMac,” said Petryk. “That’s a pity, but unfortunately, I should admit that a lot of users confuse CleanMyMac with the apps of disputable reputation.”

When asked why CleanMyMac 3 is not like MacKeeper and how or what sets it apart, Petryk said that they never compare their product to it.

On the app itself and alleviating the doubts of the majority of the members of the LEM Facebook group as well as assuring readers of my original article and current users that their software is safe and legit, she had this to say:

CleanMyMac is widely used by businesses and companies whose requirements for security are high. We offer them to try out CleanMyMac to see how much trash and other unneeded items on the Macs could be cleaned. CleanMyMac does what it exactly promises and never spams users with any ads. [It has a] clear and user-friendly interface, a lot of functionality the app does to keep Mac OS system clean, and 24/7 support who are always glad to assist users with any of their questions.

Upon request, Petryk could not provide statistics on how many copies of CleanMyMac 3 have been sold to date or CleanMyMac in its entire lifetime so far due to an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). However, on the percentage of satisfied customers who would recommend the app, that information was readily available with about 95% of the product’s 10+ million users who report “… overall happiness according to the support surveys,” she said.

In regard specifically to the validity of the claim by the member who said what makes their software malware is that in its original form, it is fine but after third parties add to or modify it, it becomes unsafe, Petryk said:

Actually, no. The CleanMyMac app is available on several download aggregators but they’re still okay as we check what exactly is uploaded there. Our app is signed by the developer, so in case if someone will try adding malware, its signature will be lost and Mac OS System won’t allow launching that app.

So what is the best and safest way to ensure that the app downloaded is the original product? “Just download the app from the developer’s official website,” she said.


Well? There you have it. I hope that the response provided by Petryk eases any uncertainty by any readers of my original article that this Reader Roundup revolves around and addressed any of the misinformed claims made by the members of the LEM Facebook group.

I’d also like to thank the persons identified herein for sharing their comments from the Facebook group and replying to my questions so that we could get to know a little more about who they are beyond their rants and raves on the subject matter of my articles. One of the things I enjoy about being a journalist is getting to meet new people and share their stories with my readers and the rest of the world.

That just about wraps it up once again for another edition of the “Leo and Mac” Reader Roundup. Join me next time for more comments, feedback, reaction, and personal stories of readers of my column here on Low End Mac. Thanks for reading!

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