Intego Washing Machine 2014 Mac App Review
Washing machine claims to perform housekeeping on your startup drive and so improve your Mac’s performance. It groups its tools into three ‘cycles’, reclaiming space by removing files that you neither use nor need, identifying duplicates so that you can strip out those not required, and helping you organise your Desktop, Dock and Finder.
Its Reclaim features can delete app caches, empty your Downloads folder, strip unwanted localisations from installed apps, trash logs and empty the Trash itself. For these actions, you can adjust a slider control from Safe to Aggressive, which already confirms that more aggressive settings are consequently less safe, and more likely to result in problems. Some benefits, such as removal of app caches, may prove transient, in that when you next run that app, it may create fresh caches to swallow more space again. Although removing localisations can sometimes cause problems with pernickety apps, it’s generally benign.
Intego provides an informative front end to this: double-click on the type of material that it’s offering to remove to inspect the list of items scheduled for removal. In practice, though, most users won’t wade into such detail, nor wish for such fine control. You can’t do a trial run to see whether the reclamation would cause problems, nor is there any Undo command.
Washing Machine searches for duplicates not only by matching file names, but also by looking inside files. Although this increases the number of hits and the disk space it can recover, it also increases the risk of removing important files. To use this feature in safety, you’d need to check each and every duplicate to see whether its removal could cause problems – a tedious and error-prone process. Most users will just hope for the best, again without the cover of a trial run or Undo.
Your mileage will vary, but using the Reclaim and Duplicates cycles will likely return several gigabytes of disk space. If you have less than 50GB of free space, this is likely to let OS X run noticeably more briskly, but it won’t turn an ageing iMac into a mighty Pro overnight. If you already have more than 100GB available, freeing up more space will have at best only marginal benefit.
Washing Machine’s final cycle is to organise your Desktop and Dock and create Smart Folders added to the sidebar of Finder windows. As these are functions that are already standard in OS X, the latter falling short of Mavericks’ own Tags, they’re no more than timely prompts for your housekeeping session. Intego does provide a neat floating help facility with ‘blueprints’, overlays that explain the function of clickable items in each window.
Washing Machine is one of the better housekeeping tools available, but its claim to make your Mac faster is contentious and there’s some risk of causing problems. You may prefer to stick to your own skills and make your own mistakes.
Using the Reclaim and Duplicates cycles will likely return several gigabytes of disk space
- Broad range of housekeeping tools
- Good floating help
- Frees disk space
- No trial run or Undo
- May not boost performance