The problem of how to dispose of extraneous files without also deleting desirable data has long plagued Mac users. Aladdin Systems’ Spring Cleaning 5.0 tries to make this task easier; it locates and lets you deal with unnecessary files, such as unused preference files, old e-mail attachments, and duplicate items. The latest iteration of the program adds new capabilities and works natively in OS X, but Spring Cleaning is still an uneven amalgam.
You can operate Spring Cleaning 5.0 in either Standard Mode or Advanced Mode. The first presents you with categories of cleaning tasks such as Clean Up, for finding duplicates and orphaned preference files; and Maintenance, which checks for damaged files, seeks out unattached aliases, and cleans out browser cache files. Advanced Mode allows you to access each of Spring Cleaning’s 16 tools individually. Once you find the offending files, you have multiple ways to deal with them — including moving them to another location or duplicating them for use elsewhere (a boon for asset management); moving them into a StuffIt archive; or tossing them into the Trash.
Among the best tools is the new Custom Search tool — a Sherlock-like file finder that lets you search for files by name, size, creation date, and creator and file type, for example, and then move or remove the found files. For example, we quickly deleted more than a gigabyte of old QuickTime movies by searching for files larger than 50MB. Access Monitor — a tool that displays files you haven’t opened in a user-determined period of time — is also useful. And the included iClean utility, for removing Web effluvia (cookies, caches, and history files, to name some) remains a highlight.
Not all the program’s tools are as worthwhile. The Orphaned Pref Finder tool, for example, displayed necessary files such as iTunes’ com.apple.iTunes.plist preference file. And on our test Macs, the Mail Cleaner tool couldn’t delete attachments from an Entourage database containing several hundred of them. In addition, the program’s OS X installer locks up on a small percentage of Macs — if you’re one of the afflicted, Aladdin can provide an alternative installer.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Spring Cleaning contains some immediately helpful tools, but if you get a little reckless while using it, you’ll lose files that your Mac needs. Although the program can be useful, we recommend using it with caution.