Review: Washing Machine 2

Washing Machine 2 cleans up your automatically generated system mess. (March 30th, 2010)

Washing Machine 2 cleans five types of files collected by various applications. These include Bookmarks, Caches, Cookies, Download Histories, and Browsing Histories.

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Intego

Price: $19.95 US

The Good

  • Keep your file history away from prying eyes.
    Includes uninstaller.
    Can use on two Macs.

The Bad

  • System Preference installed seems unnecessary.
    Priced higher than other similar utilities.

A new utility from Intego serves to help you clean up your automatically generated system mess. Washing Machine deletes the myriad of files that show your Internet trail saved by various programs. Specifically, web browsers that save a history of where you have visited, sites that put cookies on your drive that keep track of your browsing history, and various system utility caches.

While many programs focus on keeping your Mac clean and lean by removing foreign language files you never use, or repair permissions, Washing Machine looks at five types of files: Bookmarks, Caches, Cookies, Download Histories, and Browsing Histories. Removing these files prevents others from seeing your Internet habits, no matter how nefarious are your viewing habits. When Washing Machine first opens, you are presented with a list of its five categories including caches, browser and download histories, bookmarks, and cookies. The bottom of the window shows the programs that create these ancillary files, plus the file sizes of the files they save.

washmachine2-1

Install Screen


Safari is one program that uses much of your precious hard drive space. Now, my test machine does not have a huge number of files; but a recent search on my older PowerBook yielded over 5GB of Safari web browser history files. That's a lot of space used on a small 50GB system partition, but I couldn't use Washing Machine on that machine. Obviously, today's computers have much larger hard drives, so space may not be an issue for you.

If space isn't your issue, maybe hiding where you've visited on the Internet is your desire. This connotes visions of people trying to hide illegal or quasi-legal activities, such as use of torrent, porn, or hacker sites. At work, you may want to hide visits to Twitter, Facebook, or other sites that may not pertain to your job. Washing Machine can erase your histories, caches, and other saved activity so that you can hide your passage.

washmachine2-1

Main Window


You can choose exactly what to delete. Shift-click to choose multiple items or use the search bar at the bottom to search for particular program files. You can also sort any of the types of files by name or size, which I find convenient.

washmachine2-size

Sort by Size


In Washing Machine's preferences you can choose Basic, Medium, or High cleaning. The difference between these three choices is how many times the erase command passes over the data on your hard drive, from one pass to 35 passes. Considering how difficult it is to recover files in Mac OS X, I think these options are overkill, but they're similar to options in other cache cleaning programs and prevent anyone from ever seeing what was tossed, even with a recovery service.

washmachine2 Prefs

Secure Cleaning Preferences


You can also set up a cleaning Schedule, so that the cleaning is done automatically at certain times. You can exempt items also. You drag the type of file you want into the Schedule icon in the left pane, and set the frequency and time.

washmachine2 Prefs

Schedule Pop-up Menu


When activated, the program show confirms your choice and you accept the changes to activate.

Confirmation Dialog

Confirmation Dialog


A progress bar of activity appears, but there's no time estimate included. Now, in most cases the elapsed time to delete files is so short, that's probably not needed. It would be a nice feature to add, especially useful the first time you run the program.

washmachine2 Prefs

Progress Bar


Other features include the ability to create a custom Cleanlist and Smart Cleanlists. When you Command-click to select multiple items, you just save those as a Cleanlist. The lists you create show up in the left sidebar. If you want to add items to the list, you drag the program file category from the bottom window into the Cleanlist. Option-click the item to remove it from the Cleanlist.

Installed with Washing Machine is a system preference called NetUpdate. It appears in your menu bar by default. You can turn off the menu item from the Preference Pane. The purpose of this application is to automatically notify you when an update to Washing Machine is available.

washmachine2 Prefs

NetUpdate Menu


Why Intego feels the need to install a Preference Pane, as opposed to a simple menu item within the program, as most other Mac programs use, is beyond me. In addition, the pane doesn't act like any other, and you cannot switch back to the main System Preferences window, because no Show All button exists. I find this invasion into my Preferences Pane uncomfortable and unnecessary.

NetUpdate Preference Pane

NetUpdate Preference Pane


While Washing Machine seems like a bargain at $19.99, it pales in comparison to the $14.95 shareware, Cocktail. For about the same price you can do so much more with Cocktail, plus it follows a more standard Mac interface, but that's stuff for another review. Another less expensive application, Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, from Northern Softworks, also cleans your caches, but it adds an option to repair permissions, and provide other system maintenance. It also works with Mac OS X 10.3 through 10.6 and offers a variety of pricing options, starting at $9.99.

Intego's new offering works well in Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6, and one license works on two Macs. I found no performance problems or any bugs, but I just am not sure we need another application in this category of maintenance software.

by ilene hoffman, reviews editor


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