MacKeeper. it ain’t free, but you can use it anyway.

Posted: September 27, 2011 in computers, Mac OSX, reviews, Security, software
Tags: , , , , , ,

You may have heard of MacKeeper, but have no idea what it does, or how it works, or if it’s right for you.  I’ll try to answer all that and also fill you in on a great way to use portions of it without shelling out the bucks if you are on a tight budget.

Most people have tons of programs on their Macs that are constantly being updated, and while some of them let you know when you start them up if they have updates available, not all do.  This is the reason other apps like MacKeeper have come into being. We all need an easy way to check and see what programs have updates available without having to open every program in our applications folder.

I used to use a dashboard widget but found the results to be more incorrect than anything.  Mostly to do with application names it seems.  It would report back available update for programs where there were none, and it got rather annoying.  So far from my limited usage of MacKeeper this has not been as much of a problem.  But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

3,700% installed? hmmm, that seems a little off.

MacKeeper is a program whose intention is to help keep your Mac clean, up to date and problem free.  For more info check out their website  It’s a small download and simple install, only taking up about 17.3 meg of space.  The scanning however can take a little while longer – full scan on my MBP took about 20 mins.

It’s touted as being a fully functional download, which I suppose is correct as long as you don’t include actually fixing any problems as part of the functionality.  I had the program installed and running and getting test results before any mention of needing to pay for the program to actually do any cleaning or housekeeping.  When I went to fix a couple of errors automatically, thats when I was taken to the website and shown the cost of the program.  I toyed with buying it to see the full results of the automatic cleaning and the full functionality but I’m always looking for cheap or even Free ways to get things done for those people who are on a tight budget, so I decided to see if the info reported back could be used without buying the app.   Short answer: Yes.  Longer answer:  Read on.

(edit: as I was about to post this entry, I checked the MacKeeper webpage and see that they are now stating it is a fully functioning 15 day trial, although my install tells me my trial is up without me ever getting a chance to use any of the features)

scanning in progress

results have easy to see sizes for each problem

programs in need of updating. maybe.

there is a lot of power packed in there

If you are wondering if the app is worth the money, that’s been dealt with numerous times by numerous people (as a matter of fact as I was writing this post i saw MacLife posted a story about the app) and I’m not going to regurgitate their comments, my take on this app is how can someone with a few problems fix it for themselves without shelling out the big bucks because lets face it, sometimes the easiest solution is not financially viable. (students read that as more beer money remaining in your pocket)

One thing to note.  As mentioned earlier, some of what it reports as outdated is incorrect.  I had this same problem with version tracker.  It used to drive me nuts so I stopped using it.  It would appear to be just par for the course with this type of program, for instance, with MacKeeper  I’m told Skype is outdated.  Not so.  Ran Skype, checked for updates, and was told I have the most current.  Same thing happened with a few other apps, so take the results with a grain of salt, sometimes the updates are just available Betas.

Little things like “Cache Cleaning” are easy for you to do yourself with freeware programs you may already have, or even restarting your Mac will clean out a lot of that clutter.

Languages” is one area I’m a little hesitant to start messing with so do so at your own peril.  I used another app a few years back to “localize” my install and it ended up screwing up a few of my programs and had to restore a number of files from my Time Machine backup.

Logs” are another great way to clean up some space fairly easily since the app reports back the locations of all of them for you if you want to hunt and delete on your own.

Duplicate Finder” is another great list that may be helpful to you, but again, use it with a grain of salt.  Not all of the duplicates found are necessarily ones you want to delete.  Email attachments show up as duplicates for instance, and for me blowing them away out of folders would mean I’d have a bugger of a time finding them again buried in those emails if I needed them.  Like most of the components in MacKeeper – this is a very powerful and should be used carefully.  Which is why I’m always hesitant to let apps do any quick cleaning themselves.

I’ve only touched on a couple of the features of this program, as you can see from the screenshot above, there are many parts to this app that allow the average user to control and view all sorts of information.  As always, be prepared before you start tweaking anything and ensure you have a fully functioning backup of everything.

As to whether you should buy the full-blown app, I’d say if you are having any issues beyond the updating of software then it might be a good way to consolidate all your maintenance into one place.  You can do much of the same fixing and tweaking using other freeware programs (search “cache cleaner for mac” in google for instance and see how many free programs there are) or by doing them manually by yourself using the tools already installed on your Mac, but sometimes it is easier to get help and save yourself the headaches.  Especially when it comes to antivirus on a Mac.  If you are one of those people who doesn’t check embedded web links before proceeding to them, or sometimes opens zip files without first checking to see who or where they are from, then you probably need an antivirus program (there are even free antivirus programs out there for Mac OS X if you feel so inclined).

Sometimes just seeing what all the clutter and mess is, is enough and you can deal with it yourself .  Other times you need some help cleaning it out.  If the latter is true, then MacKeeper could be your virtual housekeeper, just be careful not to give it the keys to the house without watching over what it’s doing or you could find your silverware missing.



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