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I’ve never been too paranoid about privacy. I use a club card in the grocery store, fully aware that my purchase habits are being tracked--but I don’t care if I can save a dollar on cereal. My car flies through the tollbooths at the Bay Area bridges thanks to my FasTrak device, which I guess could be used to track my movements if I ever murdered someone. Don’t worry; I’m not planning to--it’s just that I remember that happening on Law & Order once.
And while I know that my browsing history could be read by anyone who can access my computer, and third-party cookies can be used to target online advertising toward me, it’s hard for me to get excited about that. Most online ads are easy to ignore, I can install AdBlock on my browsers to hide them, and every browser I’ve used lets you manually clear that data anyhow.
PrivacyScan’s handy tooltips make it incredibly easy to use.
SecureMac’s PrivacyScan probably isn’t for me, then. At $4.99 in the Mac App Store, it’s more likely for people who want to be extra, super, ultra sure that every scrap of privacy-leaking info is scrubbed from their Mac: browsing history, cookies, caches, Flash cookies, temporary files, even the Recent Items lists in QuickTime, Preview, and the Finder.
The app is dead-simple to use. On your first run, the setup wizard walks you through every option, including what applications it’ll attempt to clean. Supported browsers include major players Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, as well as more niche browsers like Camino, Flock, iCab, OmniWeb, SeaMonkey, and Shiira. Tip bubbles clearly explain all of it. If you want to change the app’s behavior later on, the cleanly designed Preferences window lets you tweak the settings for each application.
Click the trash can to clean the threats.
Then you just hit a Play button to start the scan, which doesn’t take long, and a list of “threats” pops up with checkboxes that let you exclude things from being “cleaned,” which means deleted. If you want the deleted files overwritten, PrivacyScan can “shred” them, overwriting each file with one, seven, or even 35 passes, but that takes longer.
Our first scan found web browsing history, caches, download history, last session information and tabs, recent searches, and so on. Little animations show those things being “shredded,” but feel free to skip those (and the sound effects) in the setup wizard. The effect adds nothing.
The setup wizard explains everything.
PrivacyScan will warn you when you’re about to clean cookie files, as doing so will log you out of websites. Weirdly, we got this dialog even when we hadn’t asked PrivacyScan to look for cookies.
The bottom line. PrivacyScan is a handy way to clean all of your browsers at once, and overwrite the deleted files. But if you don’t care about overwriting, you probably don’t care enough to spend $5 on something you could do yourself with a few more clicks.
64-bit processor, Mac OS 10.6.6 or later
Inexpensive. Easy to use.
History cleaning wasn’t always complete. Most people probably don’t need to use this. Must quit browsers to run.