updated 08:55 pm EDT, Wed October 27, 2010
"Swiss Army Knife" of mac tools?
Zeobit has brought their do-it-all OS X utility package, MacKeeper, out of beta -- featuring options for anti-theft, anti-malware, shredding and uninstalling unwanted files, encryption and backup of valuable files, and optimization, it positions itself as the one tool a Mac user needs. It even offers a "talk to a geek" tech support line maintained 24/7 that will even answer tech questions unrelated to MacKeeper -- for a price.
MacKeeper is priced on a yearly basis, with most features remaining permanently useful but a few (support, anti-theft, anti-malware and automatic application updates) requiring renewing your "subscription" to keep running. A basic one-Mac, one-year license will run $40, or $55 for two years. Licenses or three, five or more Macs are also available, each with a substantial discount for the second year. The toll-free phone or online support, the anti-theft and anti-malware functions and the "auto-update your apps" feature all require the subscription.
Some of MacKeeper's features are things a user can do for "free" -- either built into the OS or with the aid of free utilities: Controlling login items, setting the "default" applications for various file types, anti-phishing alerts, securely deleting or encrypting files and folders as examples -- but it is nice to have these disparate functions all "under one roof."
The program's value really lies in its premium services-- though at this early stage, the jury is still out on the quality -- which include a theft tracking system that will transmit the IP address and take iSight camera pictures of the thief; warning of Windows viruses and Mac malware, fraudulent websites and other security risks; non-bootable but version-able backup of user data (a cloud service is promised to be "coming soon," but the program can back up to connected drives as well); full de-installation of programs; visual reports on disk usage; recovering deleted files and optimizing the Mac by removing unneeded binaries, languages and old cache files.
Most Mac users end up with a half-dozen or so utilities to do these jobs (or to do them better than the system itself can). MacKeeper covers a wide range of these services in an effort to be the only (or at least main) tool a typical user would need to keep their Mac maintained. For less than the price of a typical Windows anti-virus subscription (or the cost of any two top-quality utilities apps), MacKeeper could easily become a top value, particularly with an easy-to-use UI and the comforting security of a 24/7 email and on-call support center. Time -- and a full review -- will tell if MacKeeper can really replace all those other tools and utilities, or prove a one-stop shop for typical Mac owners.
The program offers a 15-day fully-functional trial version.