Clean up your dirty Mac with Washing Machine

Like your house, your Mac gets dirty and untidy. After a while, it becomes littered with unnecessary files, downloads, even apps. One easy way to clean up your Mac is with Washing Machine.

Washing Machine is a breeze to set up and begin using. Its onscreen prompts leads you through the steps by displaying screens for the software's three functions — reclaim, duplicates, and organize — and displays help overlaps on each new screen.

Once installed, it seeks out and removes large, unnecessary or redundant files, including downloads, caches, logs, language files, and trash. You can choose what types of files you want to reclaim by flipping a switch in the Washing Machine interface.

It also tracks down duplicate files, shows them to you, and lets you decide which ones to ditch. This is a handy feature as most of us have duplicates we don't even know are cluttering up our drives. The duplicates are conveniently grouped into folders by category. What's more, you have the choice to keep all detected files, files on the boot drive, the latest files or earliest files. You can also manually select duplicates, but this can be time consuming.

All of the above features free up valuable hard disk space and help speed up your Mac. One cool feature of Washing Machine is its interactive graph, which shows you where you can reclaim disk space. The circle graph breaks down selected locations (like cache or downloads) into segments, which you can click to inspect their contents.

Additionally, the software shows you which apps you use the most — and least — and lets you move them to or from the Dock. This info is useful for finding software you no longer use; I recommend the $12.95 AppZapper uninstaller app ( for removing such apps.

Washing Machine also sports tools for organizing the Dock and Mac OS X desktop, though I find these tools less useful than the reclaim and duplicate features. However, if, like my wife, you find your desktop a disorganized mess, the organize tool of Washing Machine may be its best feature although, with a little work, you can get the same results with OS X's own features.

For example, you can create Smart Folders that provide quick access to files you use a lot (PDFs, movies, etc.) by bundling them all in one place. They can be added to Finder favorites. Smart Folders are dynamic, staying up to date automatically. Washing Machine also lets you implement a Smart Dock that you can drag apps to and from. 

The apps Smart Desktop automatically sorts your desktop items into folders. You can choose to put 'em all in a single folder, or let Washing Machine sort 'em by type (music, documents, etc.). 

All these features make Washing Machine a fine go-to app for scrubbing down your Mac. And every Mac needs a bit of overall system clean-up now and then.

Washing Machine is available here and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or higher. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the software starts at US$29.99. A limited trial version available on the Intego site lets you scan your Mac to see how much space can be reclaimed and how many duplicate files are on your computer. However, you'll have to buy the full version to clean items off your Mac.