Based upon how many Mac apps are available to clean caches, delete browser history, and open up hidden OS X settings, you’d think such utilities were the cat’s meow of apps.
These apps are useful, but they’re not all that. Especially the ones with a price tag to match Mac user fears about performance, tracking, audit trails, and the dangers of hoarding a browser history of system cache files.
At the top of the list are two Mac apps that have been around for years. Mountain Lion Cache Cleaner, and Cocktail. Both are somewhat similar in that they clean, repair, optimize your Mac, and open up a few functions that Apple deems should stay hidden.
Mountain Lion Cache Cleaner: This handy app does more than most. MLCC automates cleaning chores to delete cache files, recover wasted disk space, and tweak a few of OS X’s hidden settings.
Also included is an option to create a bootable installer DVD from your Mountain Lion download file so you have a way to start up your Mac following a catastrophic failure. There’s also the popular ClamXAV anti-virus app if you worry about Mac malware.
Cocktail: I’ve had this app for many years and each update seems to bring something new and useful. This one checks the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk drive, resets permissions, runs maintenance scripts on a schedule, and can even optimize your Mac’s network connection for increased performance.
Clearing cache files is just one of the common features. Cocktail has functions to manage your Mac’s Disk, the System, Mac Files, the Network, OS X’s User Interface, and a useful autoPilot function so you don’t have to bother doing the pointing and clicking yourself.
Of the two, the Cocktail interface is easier to setup and use, and even newbies to the Mac won’t get lost figuring out what the options do. Both open up hidden settings in Finder, Safari, Mail, and other Mac apps.
Onyx, Maintenance, Deeper: To get most of the same functions for free, there’s Onyx, Maintenance, and Deeper— a trio of Mac apps which clean caches, rebuild this or that, check the Mac’s disk drive, and open hidden functions in OS X and a few apps.
Do you need these utilities? Not necessarily. OS X’s latest incarnation may be the best Mac OS ever, and it has built-in maintenance routines to take care of cleaning and optimizing automatically. However, if you like to tinker a bit, and you’re more paranoid about leaving tracks and history on your Mac, system utilities can be a good way to spend a rainy afternoon and not spend too much money.