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space on sd cardEven with a capacious 16GB SD card, I sometimes find myself running out of space on my Android phone. That usually happens due to my penchant for backing up – I have lots of Titanium Backup How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+] How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+] I've been using Titanium Backup ever since I got my first Android device. I love backup applications (for PC and otherwise), and Titanium is as good as it gets. In this short introduction I’d like... Read More archives taking up space on my device, not to mention two or three ROM images (also known as “nandroid backups”) at any given time. Throw in the occasional 1080p video taken with the device, and things can get awfully crowded in a hurry.

I’ve previously shown you how to free up space on your Android device How To Free Storage Space On Your Android Device How To Free Storage Space On Your Android Device Here is a common problem: Running out of storage space on your Android device. Next thing you know, you can't install that cool new game, or get weird errors because you don't have enough space.... Read More using several methods. If none of these appealed to you, you may want to stick around and see if Clean Master does the trick. We’ve previously featured it in MakeUseOf Directory, but with over 94,000 Google Play reviews ranking it at a 4.7-star average, I felt it merits a thorough look.

First Impressions

Clean Master looks, for lack of a better word, clean:

space on sd card

The interface is nice and roomy, with a large storage overview on top, and just four massive buttons at the bottom. Note the lack of any advertising. Disappointingly, tapping the circles does nothing – I expected a drill-down showing what’s taking up space (like what you get with the excellent DiskUsage featured in my other space-clearing post How To Free Storage Space On Your Android Device How To Free Storage Space On Your Android Device Here is a common problem: Running out of storage space on your Android device. Next thing you know, you can't install that cool new game, or get weird errors because you don't have enough space.... Read More ).

Analyzing Cache and Files

To get the action going, you need to tap the History button. This is a bit of a perplexing label given what it actually does. It takes you to a breakdown of your cache and files.

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Let’s start with the cache first:

make space on sd card

You get a listing of all of your apps that have files stored in cache, and can see how much cache each app takes. Tapping the Clean button naturally flushes out the cache, but this isn’t all that useful. Those apps are just going to fill your SD card once again. Instead, I would treat this screen as a handy overview, to suss out the cache-hungry apps on my phone. Turns out Gmail loves the cache.

Tapping the Clean button does not mindlessly delete everything:

make space on sd card

You get a clear warning, and even then, Clean Master takes care to preserve some cached files you may likely want:

make space on sd card

I did not manually exclude Google Maps and WhatsApp. Clean Master did this on its own, which is brilliant. Google Maps supports manual caching (you can download maps for offline use), so its cache is likely something you actually wanted. I’m not sure why WhatsApp gets to keep its cache, but it’s not huge so it doesn’t pose much of an issue.

Cleaning Out Large Files

In the next tab over, you’ll find the reason most people install Clean Master. Its built-in file scanner that hunts for files that are taking lots of space, yet can safely be removed. It starts off with a healthy warning:

clear space on sd card

As you can probably see by now, these warnings are a recurring theme for Clean Master. It feels as though its developers really didn’t want you accidentally removing important files in your zeal to clear out space.

It does get borderline annoying when Clean Master insists on asking you about each and every file you opt to remove:

clear space on sd card

What makes this even more annoying is that Clean Master doesn’t offer a way to open the file. Do you remember what’s in 20130311_124235.mp4? No? Well, you’ll just have to switch over to a file manager and play the file from there, if you want to make sure what’s in it before removing it.

Privacy Settings

Moving on to another primary function, far less useful than space cleaning – the Privacy button. I was expecting a listing of app permissions, and was half-right. I got a list of apps, but without permissions.

clear space on sd card

Tap an app, and you’ll be transported to Android’s built-in App Info screen for that app, with a misplaced tooltip overlaid on the screen:


I’m not sure how clearing data helps protect my privacy; I would expect a powerful  way to control an app’s permissions. In short, this part of Clean Master isn’t very impressive, and I suspect most people don’t use it all that often.

Killing Tasks To Boost Performance

If your phone could do with a bit of extra oomph when trying to run a demanding game, the Tasks feature could come in handy:


This is a list of everything running in the background. By default, all entries are checked, and when you tap Clean, they all get terminated. This isn’t always ideal, so you should probably go through these one by one and choose the ones you actually want to terminate. This is something you may want to do on a regular basis (before playing a game, say), so Clean Master lets you create a shortcut for the feature on your homescreen:


It’s actually a widget: It looks like a simple icon, but when you tap it, it “inflates,” showing a progress spinner and finally reporting on how many tasks it killed. Nice, fast, and useful (if you take care to terminate only what you really don’t need).

The final Clean Master feature is an App Manager, mainly used for uninstalling apps:


Don’t let the Backup tab mislead you: It’s just a listing of APKs you have saved on your device.

Settings & Preferences

There are none:

space on sd card

That’s actually a plus. I like how Clean Master keeps everything tidy and simple.

Final Thoughts

Clean Master is a mixed bag, with two useful features (History and Tasks), and two that are less so (Privacy and App Manager). The thing I like most about it is how responsible it is about deleting your data. The developers seem to understand that deleting an important file by accident is an incredibly frustrating experience, especially when it’s an irreplaceable family video (like the ones that may be taking up space on your device).

To me, its ratings show that Android users value simplicity and looks above everything else, which is understandable.

Will you be trying it out yourself? Are you already using it? I’d be particularly curious to hear if you’re using the Privacy and App Manager features on a regular basis.

  1. Keith
    January 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Wow, just cleaned up my 16Gb SD card on Xperia Z5 Premium, reduced stored files from 14.5GB to 8GB in a few seconds. Excellent program.

  2. Natalia Martín
    August 28, 2015 at 11:15 am
  3. Bogdan Nikolov
    March 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    This app is awesome! Thank you for the helpful review :-)

  4. ksmobileinc
    March 28, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Hi Erez

    I'm Logan from KS Mobile, thanks for bringing this comprehensive review :D
    Basically from our feedback we have the same conclusion as in your final thought :D

    Also, we have got the "view in explorer " feature in latest version, and you can check file detail within any file explorer installed after scanning in History mobule.

    And we have some plans for your mentioned "circles" part, it's on our to-do list :D

    Again thanks for bringing news and review of Clean Master, I'm adding this to our press page .


    • Erez Zukerman
      March 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Sure thing Login! :)

  5. Aleksandra H
    March 28, 2013 at 1:29 am

    I'm using it for the last couple months, and really like its History part.

  6. Arben Myrtaj
    March 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks for the article, installed this app, was very good, If I had any money, I would donate to the authors, totally deserve it.

  7. André K
    March 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I've been using this app for a few months now, but as you wrote in the title, it only takes care of the SD card. Is there any way to clean the phone memory?

  8. Bishal Mahat
    March 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you very much !!! Truly I needed that app, thanks for sharing.

  9. Daniel Joshua
    March 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  10. nicknowsky
    March 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    AOKP and KILL EM ALL button....but thats is different I dunno 16GB isnt a lot. Its not hard to keep track of what u have on your SD or if you're a power user and own NEXUS devices,,,youre internal storage

  11. Anthony Baptiste
    March 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    This is great. I've been looking for an app like this for a while. Thanks

  12. claudine ratelle
    March 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    It looks interesting for sure. I might try it!

  13. vcm prasad
    March 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I do use clean master regularly. I am not much of an expert as my son i. He said to install it and run regularly to save on memory, which I follow . He gave me Micromax Canvas 2. I love it.

  14. Scott M
    March 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I am very careful of how many apps and videos etc. that I put on my phone.I have a tablet or a laptop for larger files that I am able to take along.Its a smartphone but it can't replace a laptop.

  15. Nevzat A
    March 27, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Thanks a lot. That's what I want.

  16. Chris Marcoe
    March 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    So, to clean up the apps, I need to get another app? Not sure this is what I want to do. I know I can go, at anytime, and delete the ones I don't use/need/want.
    Usually, I give an app 2 weeks or so. If I'm using them, then great, I'll keep it, unless its a processor hog. If its not a hog, then its kept. If I haven't been using it, there's really no reason to keep. Its just clutter. And so it will get the axe.

  17. Richard Borkovec
    March 26, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks for this. I use History Cleaner and iObit MobileCare right now, but will try this out for sure!

  18. dragonmouth
    March 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    The easiest way to preserve space on one's phone is to not install apps, take videos, store music and pictures, etc. willy-nilly. After all, it is only a phone, not a PC.

    • Rudi Pittman
      March 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Or as an alternative purchase a phone that has a microsd card slot, drop in a 64GB card for less than $50 and use your device however the heck you want to vs having someone else tell you how to use it.

      • dragonmouth
        March 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        The way some people collect apps, music and images, they need at least a 1 TB card.

    • LlyrMD
      March 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Well, no, it's not *only* a phone.

      • dragonmouth
        March 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

        It's certainly not a PC, either. And unless one adds a few PC-type peripherals, it will never be.

        Just because people (and manufacturers) insist on making it into a surrogate PC, does not change the fact that the principal purpose is as a phone. I can use a screw driver as a pry bar, as a chisel and as a stirrer but that does not change the fact that its primary purpose is as a screw driver.

  19. Rigoberto Garcia
    March 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Great article Erez. Sharing with my partners. Thanks.

  20. Max
    March 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    This looks great! Thanks for sharing!

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