Editor’s note: The following review is part of Macworld’s GemFest 2012 series. Every weekday from mid June through mid August, the Macworld staff will use the Mac Gems blog to briefly cover a favorite free or low-cost program. Visit the Mac Gems homepage for a list of past Mac Gems.
SecureMac’s PrivacyScan (Mac App Store link), which debuted at Macworld|iWorld 2012, offers a one-stop way to mitigate common privacy concerns by identifying and destroying Internet files placed on your computer that track your usage and reveal your online activities to others. You can choose to erase information from a number of programs simultaneously, and then choose the level of destruction you’re most comfortable with. Time is the tradeoff; The more securely the information is destroyed, the longer the process takes.
A nice byproduct of using PrivacyScan is that it has the potential of slimming down your Mac by clearing your hard drive of extraneous, space-hogging files.
Nothing could be easier than running a scan. Launching the app reveals all the supported applications you have on your hard drive. You use the setup assistant to specify which privacy issues you want the app to concentrate on; These issues include browsing history, cache, cookies, download history, form values, last session information, recent searches, webpage icons, Web storage, and DOM storage. When you hit the Scan button, the program displays scan results—a list of all the items it intends to clean. You can still change your mind about any of them before clicking the Trash icon to execute the cleanup.
Even after your first scan, those choices are not set in stone. You can tweak these settings anytime in the program’s preferences. Every time you run the program, you check which apps you want scanned, and then click the arrow button to initiate the scan. According to SecureMac, PrivacyScan’s most secure shredding goes above and beyond United States Department of Defense deletion standards by overwriting files with up to 35 passes. With regular cleaning, files get about seven passes.
Moreover, there’s no way to automatically schedule a hard drive sweep; you have to remember to initiate the process. The one-stop-shop sounds more complex than it actually is for native apps like the Finder. If you want to clear the history from the Finder or Preview, it’s easy enough to do that within the programs. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for the convenience of eliminating telltale information quickly, securely, and with a wide swath, PrivacyScan may be just the ticket.
[Jackie Dove is a Macworld senior editor.]
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