Spring Cleaning v7.0.1 by Allume Systems

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, March 2005, updated October 2006
Published by: Allume Systems
Requires: Mac OS 10.2 or newer, QuickTime 6.0 or newer, 8MB RAM, 42MB free hard disk space
MSRP: US$49.99 (retail box or download)

Apple’s computers have a reputation for being, if nothing else when compared to your average Windows PC, different. One day maybe we at Kickstartnews will explore those differences, but today I'm here to tell you that a computer is a computer, and like all computers Macs are just as susceptible to the accumulation of clutter and junk files as any Windows PC. So for Mac users Allume Systems’ Spring Cleaning is designed to help clear your precious computer of all the flotsam and jetsam that can pile up over an surprisingly short period of time (I'll get into that in a bit).

Once installed, Spring Cleaning can be viewed in one of two modes, Standard and Advanced. I'm a brand new iMac owner so I know Standard mode is going to be where I start. For more experienced Mac users, Advanced mode is a program interface that seems to assume that you are more comfortable with the Mac vernacular. Standard Mode explains things a little more clearly and I'm personally thankful for that because while I have used a PC for many years, until today, if you asked me what an “Alias” is I would tell you that it's a decent television show. I digress.

Spring Cleaning’s interface is fairly simple. A table of contents on the left allows you to choose from the categories Cleanup, Maintenance, Organize, Internet and Restore. The table of contents never goes away and an arrow points to the current category (and sub-category) of choice. To the right are windows that give you a description of what the category does and what, if any, sub-categories are available. Located at the bottom are two buttons, one that will allow you to continue the desired process and the other to allow you to go back so you can reverse your steps at any time if you change your mind.


In Cleanup, you can rid your Mac of duplicate or orphaned files, all those ‘read me’ files you no longer need, aliases that point to nowhere, and completely uninstall applications, much more thorough than just dragging an icon to the trash. Once you have run a search, you will be presented with a list of all the files on your Mac that match the search criteria. As an example, on a search for duplicate documents, Spring Cleaning found no fewer than 3639 files that had a duplicate somewhere on my computer. Once a file is selected, separate windows open to show you a preview of it, as well as its location on your computer. Be forewarned though, just because you have two of the same file doesn't necessarily mean that you can safely delete one. It might be fine to trash one of the duplicate pictures of your dog but a font file in two different program folders may be a necessity and could render one program unusable. Delete judiciously. Spring Cleaning also offers a lot of help in determining which file to delete as not only is the file name listed, but also its properties including size, type and modification date. Once you have your duplicate items highlighted, you can choose to move them to a separate folder, archive them, or trash them altogether. Advanced alternatives are also available like running an AppleScript but like I said before, I'm a new Mac user so the advanced stuff will be left to those with more experience than me. Speaking of being a new user, how in the world did I manage to duplicate almost 3600 files? The picture files I can understand – that would be me playing with iPhoto’s import settings, but 3600? Imagine the disk space I am about to reclaim once I'm finished this clean up task.

As an experienced Windows user I know the value of maintaining my PC. A lot can be accomplished just by identifying a damaged file, or emptying out my Internet caches and the same can be said for Mac OS X. Under the Maintenance category, Spring Cleaning will not only check for files that are damaged in some way and help clean out the Internet caches but will also find empty folders and aliases that no longer point to anything. Here again, how does a new computer end up with 202 empty folders? Goofy third party software for one thing and programs with default folders that just haven't been used. So again, you might want to be careful in choosing to delete a folder. As before, when a folder in highlighted in the list, both a preview of the folder and its location on the drive are shown so you will know exactly where the folder is and whether or not it is a good choice to delete.

The file checker will find any damaged files, but it can't fix them. Once Spring Cleaning shows you which files are damaged, you will have to decide whether or not you can delete them. Deleting damaged files will often fix a problem program; it's almost better to not have the file at all than to have a broken one get in the way. While Spring Cleaning will not fix a broken file, it will tell you where the problem is and that is more than half way to finding a solution.

Organizing options include the aforementioned Duplicate Finder and Alias Fixer but it also includes a program to find orphaned files, items which are no longer associated with a program and a Document Finder. This option can come in very handy if you have a lot of documents on your disk that were created by a piece of software you are no longer running. Once located, you can decide to trash the files or archive them in a separate folder. From there, burning them to CD is a simple click away and you can use those files on another computer that is still running the parent program.

Probably the most necessary things you can do to clean up your Mac is to run the Cache and Cookie finder and MailCleaner. The Internet Cache finder looks for all those superfluous files that web browsers keep. These files make loading web pages faster as they contain pictures and other information that the browser would have to otherwise download every time that particular site is visited. Unfortunately, if your cache size is too large that can make for a lot of useless files and cookies. Every once in a while it’s a good thing to just clear the whole thing out and start it all over again. Spring Cleaning will allow you to trash the selected files, or archive and store them, or perform other advanced options such as excluding them from future searches. There may be files that you want to keep but don't want to see every time you run a search. Spring Cleaning can be configured to ignore them. I ran the Internet Cache finder and was able to reclaim 35MB of disk space. Not bad!

Unfortunately (and it's about the only negative thing I can say about this version of Spring Cleaner) MailCleaner, the part of Spring Cleaning that rids your drive of unwanted or hidden e-mail attachments, only works with Entourage, Eudora and Outlook Express. A few weeks ago I started using Mozilla’s Thunderbird which MailCleaner does not recognize. I'm hoping for an update to Spring Cleaning that will include compatibility with Thunderbird and whatever else comes along in the way of email software.

Clearly, once all this Spring Cleaning is done you will have regained dozens if not hundreds of megabytes of hard drive space. So what if you make a mistake? Do not panic because Spring Cleaning includes a Restore option that will allow you to undo many of the actions taken in the process of cleaning up your hard drive. You're safe, until you're sure.

The only usage caveat worth mentioning is that your Mac contains thousands (if not tens of thousands) of files on it and some of Spring Cleaning’s searches can take a while. This is not something you want to do just before bedtime. Take a couple of hours, brew a cup of tea and go through the cleaning process one category at a time. With a complete online guide giving you step by step instructions and full explanations of each process, running Spring Cleaning on your Mac, new or otherwise, is easy. Regardless of how long it may take, once completed and you see the amount of drive space regained, you won't regret it. Clean systems run faster and more efficiently. Highly recommended.





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