When it comes to cleaning, repairing, and optimizing a Mac, there are many choices for Mac users, some free, some not so much. Personally, I don’t do much beyond what OS X does automatically, but I keep four apps on my Mac to help out here and there, two of them I recommend to Mac users (which one depends upon their skill and experience level).
First on the list is Cocktail, which has been around forever and then some; so long ago that I don’t even remember when I bought it or how much it cost. Cocktail is one of those general purpose utilities loaded with maintenance tools for the Mac’s disk, system, files, network, and OS X’s interface.
The Pilot button does the standard maintenance chores for you so using Cocktail couldn’t be easier. This is the one I recommend to Mac users who are new to the Mac, somewhat inexperienced, but who demand the clean, repair, and optimize tools to match their experience after years of suffering on Windows PCs.
The Disk tab gives you option to auto check the S.M.A.R.T status of connected disks, repair permissions, resent home directory permissions, and even toggle the MacBook’s sudden motion sensor. System has an extensive list of options, including maintenance scripts, purging memory, and modifying a number of settings.
Likewise, Files has options to clean various caches, cookies, history files, view log files, delete those pesky DS Store files, and clear other caches and swap files. The Interface tab has options to modify the look and add a few features to the Finder, Dock, Login Window and other services.
Is that list of functions worth the price?
It is if you don’t want to get all geeky about your Mac’s settings and prefer the one-click approach. Otherwise, there are three other Mac utilities (with some overlap) that do all that and more– clean, repair, customize, optimize– and they’re free.
Those are the Mac enhancement utilities I recommend to Mac users with a bit more experience as the variety of settings can be daunting to a Mac newbie. My favorite of the three is Onyx because, like Cocktail, it’s simple and straightforward, easy to setup and use, and not easy to use to muck up your Mac.
Onyx is packed with useful options to uncover a number of hidden parameters and settings that Apple builds into OS X but doesn’t make available to the average Mac user. These include settings for the Finder, the Dock, Spotlight, and a number of Apple’s built-in OS X applications.
Finally, if you don’t want to muck with a variety of what could be confusing settings and configurations, but you still want those caches cleaned and prefer your Mac to take care of itself, simply leave your Mac on and running overnight a few days (or nights) each week. Apple has a built-in scheduler to clean up logs and caches automatically.
Cocktail works great and is an able commercial app. Onyx has more features, does much the same thing, and is free. Or, do nothing more than leave your Mac running overnight from time to time and it will catch up on its own cleaning schedule.