Utilities • Updated on Apr.8, 2020
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Mac devices are normally great, you know. It has a smooth User Interface, a smoother integration and most importantly the smoothest workflow.
However, there is a slight problem: running low on space. People are always worried about losing storage space on their macOS devices if they store too much data.
So, do we need a cleaner of macOS?
Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple offered an elegant space-clearing solution feature, Optimized Storage.
Optimized Storage in macOS Sierra and later can save space by storing your content in the cloud and making it available on demand. To make room for more storage, it automatically saves files, photos, movies, and email attachments to the cloud.
Each file stays right where you last saved it, and downloads when you open it. Files that you’ve used recently remain on your Mac, along with optimized versions of your photos.
This feature helps you deal with junk like duplicates, old email attachments and downloads — and automatically examines them to delete the files or move them to the cloud.
The result of the optimization is more free space on your hard drive, but several gigabytes of cloud storage taken up, which you could’ve used for other things.
Mac cleaner and productivity
While Optimized Storage is an amazing built-in feature, it doesn’t help many users who use their Mac for data intensive tasks.
It’s not possible to keep paying Apple according to the storage space taken up. As we mentioned above, Optimized Storage would only be moving your junk files to iCloud, and the iCloud space is limited. When you cross the 5GB free limit, you will have to start paying for the extra space you are getting. When you have GBs of junk data to keep on the cloud, this doesn’t make sense.
Using a dedicated Mac cleaner software – with the right expectations (and a bit of circumspection), you will be able to do this without iCloud. The benefits are more…
- you don’t have to spend extra money if you can find free space in your Mac itself.
- with all junk getting accumulated on your Mac (and if your Mac is so old that it has HDD instead of SSD) over the years, periodic cleaning gives a performance boost.
- save your time and have greater safety to identify safe-to-delete files than non-technical users who remove the important system files.
- do regular surveillance and increase process effectiveness.
What makes a good Mac cleaner app
We used the following criteria to find the most effective tool for cleaning a Mac:
- Is it intuitive and easy to use?
- Is the core feature to clean junk files, trash, unused and copies in different system sections?
- Does it provide smart decisions and work efficiently?
- Does it check your Mac health?
- Is the price fair that striking a good balance between affordability and powerful functionality?
- Is it compatible with the latest macOS version?
- Is the app available in different languages to be used effectively in different countries and by different users?
Disclosure: We sometimes use affiliate links which means that, at zero cost to you, we may earn a commission if you buy something through our links.
Our pick: Macpaw CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac is an all-in-one cleaning software for devices running macOS. It’s developed and distributed by a company named Macpaw, which develops other utility programs as well.
However, CleanMyMac can be by far the biggest success — for all the good reasons. With the 10th anniversary edition, CleanMyMac has completed its transformation into a comprehensive cleanup, optimization, and management tool, it is X times better, so call it CleanMyMac X.
What makes this software great?
CleanMyMac X ticked all of our checkmarks to become that one, much-needed cleaner software for 2020. By bringing up all the features around cleanup, privacy, security, and app management in one place, this app makes sure that you do not have to fall back to the numerous apps that single-out these operations.
Here we will look at the three factors that make this software great — the design, how it works with speeding up and cleaning up your Mac, and its ability to offer protection along with other services.
CleanMyMac X has got a lot of rounded corners, brightly-colored icons, faux transparent backgrounds, and a nice ombre effect throughout. It helps you manage your Mac without feeling like it’s rocket science.
Once you have downloaded and installed CleanMyMac X on your Mac, you will be able to see the welcome window. Here, you can start a Smart Scan to understand the basic issues with your Mac. It will let you find issues and areas of improvement.
Other than Smart Scan, CleanMyMac X is divided into five main sections that can be accessed from the sidebar. Each window in the menu bar tells you what the particular feature would do.
CleanMyMac X Interface consists of a CleanMyMac Assistant as well. You can access the feature by clicking the icon on the top-right portion of the window. If you cannot find a particular section, you can simply ask the Assistant. There is also a Silent Mode where the Assistant does not provide voluntary response.
Altogether, the design aspect of CleanMyMac X is top-notch. We haven’t seen many Mac cleaner UIs that make the cleaning process this easier.
Cleanup and Speedup
Cleanup and speedup are the highlighting features of CleanMyMac X. They form the core functionalities of the app and a large part of how it works revolves around them.
Unwanted files on your Mac tend to clog up the disk space and slow down your device. CleanMyMac X, with a single click, performs a thorough scan of your disk. It searches for a variety of files, including duplicates, and helps you clear them one by one — all with the click of a button.
It also helps you clean those unneeded files such as the outdated caches, broken downloads, logs, and useless localizations. You can also use it to remove tons of clutter that lurks in apps such as iTunes, Mail, Photos, and save gigabytes of those large hidden files that are generally unnoticeable.
Depending on the various needs, you can choose from the five available options to remove tons of clutter that lurks in apps such as System, Photos, Mail, iTunes, Trash and save gigabytes of those large hidden files that are generally unnoticeable. All this information is smart-selected and you can remove them without any fear about system crashes.
From our test, CleanMyMac X removing the massive amounts of unused junk. One of the best examples of this is when it scrubs the junk out of Photos. Before reviewing CleanMyMac X, we had no idea that Photos left so much junk scattered all over our computer. Before this turns into a rant about Photos, the reason that made an impression on us is that it optimizes the photograph library and removes local iCloud cache files as well. CleanMyMac X demonstrates the level of thought put into this software.
Experts suggest that you should use both CleanMyMac X and Optimized Storage from Apple. This way, you will find enough space to store files on Mac, while moving junk stuff to available iCloud space.
Coming to the Speedup bit, the optimization part of this section helps you recognize and quit apps that take up a lot of resources. If you did not know, hung applications can keep consuming a lot of resources. CleanMyMac X will recognize such apps and quit them. This section also shows you the Login Items and Launch Agents. In short, CleanMyMac X lets you optimize how your Mac behaves when it’s booted up.
Maintenance part of CleanMyMac X section is even better. In a single click, you can improve the performance of drives, eliminate application errors and improve search performance. Indeed, CleanMyMac X does a lot of things in the background. The tool will show you a bunch of options like Cleaning RAM, Flush DNS Cache and Reindex Spotlight. Select the ones you need and hit the ‘Run’ button. You’re all good to go.
We really loved these features, mainly because we had a snappier Mac experience after using them.
Protection and More
Of course, your Mac needs protection. Understanding this, Macpaw has added some security and privacy-oriented features in the latest CleanMyMac X.
Malware Removal is the biggest feature in this sector. With this, you will be able to scan your Mac device to find possible threats like viruses, adware, spyware etc. CleanMyMac X is using trusted malware databases to recognize the threats.
Privacy is yet another useful section in the CleanMyMac X Protection section. You will be able to deal with many aspects of digital privacy here. For instance, CleanMyMac X will remove browsing traces, such as your browsing history, saved WiFi networks, and autofill data.
CleanMyMac X also offers you the option to uninstall and update apps, lets you find large and old files on your Mac. The app even scans your system for vulnerabilities and hazards like adware, viruses, spyware, and cryptocurrency miners. These can mine your data and send out sensitive information. With CleanMyMac X at work, you can be assured that none of these hazards hinder the performance of your machine along with your privacy.
Long story short, CleanMyMac X lets you stop worrying about data security and files taking up space.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
CleanMyMac X is a great app — quite an all rounder when it comes to cleaning up your Mac. However, it does stand under the radar. We’ll explain how:
If you do not use the app with precaution, you might end up losing some precious data. Yes, safety checks can prevent that, but you must keep an eye out for it. It would’ve been great if the app could make these distinctions stand out — could clearly highlight what you are going to delete, and whatnot. Something like an added layered warning for those who have a habit of clicking on options without reading around them.
Another thing that you might think of before buying the app is that there are numerous free alternatives available on the web that do what this app does — only not in such a comprehension, all-in-one unit. Besides, the alternatives that perform these individual tasks are also cheaper.
However, we don’t think these problems are deal breakers. You can make sure that you do not lose your important data by following each and every step of disk cleanup and making sure that you have your eyes on the checkmarks.
And yes! It does make sense to go for a cheaper alternative, but isn’t it nice to have all the alternatives bundled into one, offered at one price — no hassle of app conflicts, multiple scans, and more.
Availability and pricing
CleanMyMac X works on macOS 10.10 and later, including the newly released macOS 10.15 Catalina. A free trial version is available for download.
Macpaw is charging $39.95 per year for a subscription to CleanMyMac, or $89.95 for a one-time purchase. You can purchase it from official website store, or get it from Setapp subscription.
The paid competitions
For now, CleanMyMac X isn’t a solid contender. In fact, we’d come across other extremely promising competitors too. So, if you are not ready to spend on CleanMyMac X, you can try one of the following tools.
For years, the standard in PC cleaner software has been CCleaner, and now Mac users can benefit from the experience that the Piriform developers bring to the table. CCleaner Professional is quick and easy to use program, which speeds up your Mac and secures it. Although CCleaner has a free version, there are only two basic features described on the website as “faster computer” and “privacy protection”. At the premium level with price $24.95 you have Automatic Browser Cleaning, Real-time Monitoring, Automatic Updating and what they call “Priority Support”.
There are 3 tabs – “Cleaner”, “tools” and “option”. These 3 ways CCleaner helps you remove junk files, trash files, unused data, unwanted files and software and many more such things which decrease mac’s performance, enabling it to run faster and smoother. It also removes cookies, browsing history and saved passwords, making your online browsing more secure, so no one can misuse your online. CCleaner cleared almost 3000 files in one go from my system. So, it is effective.
Though CCleaner Professional has many helpful features, it lacks in some things. CCleaner for Mac is beta version, it is not fully featured. Some features are missing from it which are available in the original version. CCleaner is limited to some browsers such as Safari, Firefox and chrome to delete cookies and trash files from them. Windows version of CCleaner has more features.
MacBooster from IObit is a powerful Mac maintenance tool for cleaning up Mac computers, and offers good functionality for its class. MacBooster and CleanMyMac X have quite similar functionality, offering users a number of cleaning options and tools: system cleanup, finding duplicates, deleting large files, uninstalling applications, protecting your Mac from virus and malware, etc.
Start by clicking Clean and Boost for example and four sections – Internet Security, System Cleanup, System Optimization and Disk Clean – are scanned for errors, threats and redundant files. You’re shown how much space will be removed or how many issues require fixing, then find yourself invited to the click the Fix button.
We really like Macbooster’s performance boost tool, which basically lets you shutdown low-level services to speed up your Mac further. If you’re a power user looking to deep-clean your Mac, give the 14-day trial a whirl, after that, it requires a $2.49/month subscription.
Intego Mac Washing Machine is a Mac cleaner that makes it easy to get rid of junk files that slow down your Mac.
This app completes three separate but complementary functions. It scans for unused or obsolete files that can be deleted, it identifies duplicate files, and it lets you manage your desktop. Through the app’s intuitive interface, you can quickly access all features and have your computer running more smoothly in no time.
Overall, the app is fine. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are looking for an app that helps you organize your storage drives and removes unnecessary files.
But here is no quick-look support for files preview and the trial version of this app can only complete the preliminary steps of each function. You get to see what each phase of the scanning process looks like, but to get any real functionality you’ll have to pay $29.99 for an unrestricted license.
The Sensei app is a relatively new app on the market, but it can be another useful tool for your Mac. The app offers a gorgeous UI with lots of great functionality for monitoring nearly all the hardware activity taking place inside your Mac and provides a set of utilities to optimize its performance.
Also included is a generous toolbox of disk cleaning skills. The Optimize section makes short work of login items and launch agents, while the Uninstaller section purges installed apps in tandem with their related system files. The Clean section scans your Mac for large files, Downloads, Disk Images, Old System Cruft, and other categories of files you may be able to delete. Each category is sorted by size, making it a fast way to find big files that will free up space.
While there are no scheduling options, but it is still an effective way to track down the biggest files that are taking up significant amounts of storage.
Sensei runs on macOS Catalina 10.15 or higher. After 14-day free trial, it requires a one-time purchase of $59 or annual subscription ($29 per year) to use.
DaisyDisk is a beautiful yet different disk space analyzer that scans the drives on your Mac and gives you a visual overview of what’s eating up space on your Mac. It displays files in a pinwheel-shaped disk map, letting you quickly locate and clean up large files. You can use the built-in QuickLook preview to see what you might want to get rid of (you can also reveal in Finder to take a closer look).
There’s a collection drawer where you can stage files (or entire segments) for trashing. Once you’ve browsed through and collected things you don’t need, one click clears them out. DaisyDisk is available for just $9.99 from the Mac App Store as well as from their own website (standalone edition). The standalone edition from their own website offers some additional features since it is not bound by Apple’s sandboxing rules.
We really like DaisyDisk’s design with its circular visualizations! But it’s important to note that DaisyDisk does not warn you if you delete something that is needed for your system or even for any application. So please use DaisyDisk carefully.
Disk Doctor is developed in the UK and was awarded the ‘Mac Gem’ award by MacWorld in 2013. The app focuses on disk cleanup only. It scans and removes application caches, browser logs , iTunes temp caches and other unnecessary files from your hard drive. The interface is very simple and professional as well as easy to use.
The limitation of Disk Doctor is that the utility is designed to work only with your Mac’s boot volume. You can’t scan an external volume and free up disk space on it.
It could use a few improvements and additional features, but at its current price of just $9.99, it’s worth having around.
The free alternatives
Why do you let your pretty Mac get cluttered with apps? AppCleaner is a small and simple utility we’ll include it anyway, because it comes in handy when it comes time to uninstall an application and it is FREE. Sure, the Mac makes it a lot easier to get rid of unwanted software than Windows, but don’t be thoroughly cleaned — even if you’ve dragged a Mac application icon into the Trash, that doesn’t delete the Mac app’s entire footprint. Often times the app will leave behind configuration files, cache folders and other remnants that occupy disk space.
AppCleaner does a serviceable job of locating all the files associated with the app, and provides an index so you know just how much space they’re taking up. Once you’ve got them all accounted for, click the Delete button and banish them forever.
OnyX is another free multifunctional utility that can verify your Mac’s startup disk, run a variety of system scripts for cleaning tasks manually and rebuilding Mac.
The developer offers individually specific OnyX versions for every major version of OS system. When a new version of macOS comes out, just revisit the OnyX site and grab the latest release. Every version is free, and very small, so you aren’t wasting storage space downloading whichever one you need.
It’s handy for deleting caches, removing redundant and excessive files and folders, rebuilding databases and indexes, and making your machine run more smoothly and with added disk space.
Just be careful playing with these settings. They’re helpful and can really improve your Mac’s performance, but if you don’t know what a given setting is supposed to do, you’re probably best off not changing it.
As a free Mac cleaner, Onyx comes with an extremely high learning curve. We think it’s great for tech savvy and experienced Mac users to take significantly more time to get around and find what you need, then learn how to use it, but the result pays.
Additional things you can try to clean your Mac further
Keep the macOS desktop clean
Many people use Desktop as their primary destination for files. But this could be tricky because your OS treats every file on a desktop as an active window. When items on your desktop are too many, you’ll have the turtle-like speed. Try to keep the desktop clean and minimal with fewer icons and applications.
Grab an external storage
It is no mystery what is filling up your storage – files. To prevent your files from clogging up the system, you might consider saving your less-used files to a location away from your computer. An external drive will be ideal.
Stay current with macOS
Apple releases new versions of OS X as free upgrades, so there is no reason not to keep current. New versions of macOS contain performance improvements that often use more system resources.
So now you have a handful list of Mac cleaning software with different customization that can help you accomplish your goals.
After carefully evaluating all the popular Mac cleaner solutions, we believe that CleanMyMac X beats them all in overall performance, ease of use and flexibility.
It should also be noted that CleanMyMac X is used by more than 5 Million Mac users across the globe. Just in case you didn’t know, it’s recommended by popular websites like TheNextWeb and MacWorld, which also show the trustworthiness.
The apps that we reviewed are quite good with managing your disk space, and when used with Mac’s default built-in Optimized Storage, they are sure to yield fruitful results. Happy cleaning!
We clean our rooms and clothes so why not our Macs? But who can waste the entire day digging through folders and files? There are so many places like music, videos, apps and email downloads, and countless more locations on your Mac where junk and clutter accumulates. In 2020 cleaning your Mac is easier than ever. Which is why millions of people download free and low-cost Mac cleaning software.
To start off, we've made a quick comparison chart about best Mac cleaners for Mac.
|1||CleanMyMac X||Best cleaning and antimalware functionality in one tool||Link|
|2||Disk Doctor||Quick scan and deep cleaning of all kinds of junk||Link|
|3||MacBooster||Finds duplicate files and has system optimization functionality||Link|
A handy cleaner may prove that your Mac is still alive and can actually perform at its best. In this article we’ve brought together some of the best Mac cleaning solutions around to clean, optimize, and maintain Macs that are available in 2020.
Top 10 best cleaners for Mac: Free and premium versions
1. CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac X takes the first place with good reason — this cleaner combines features of both cleaning software and antimalware tool. Its Smart Scan promises a “nice and thorough scan of your Mac.” It does what it says, detecting junk like user cache files and system logs, checking your Mac for malicious software, and speeding up your MacBook. Looks like, there is a threat in my system, that I need to get rid of:
Frankly speaking, CleanMyMac X is Tesla Roadster among other Mac cleaners. And it does a great job revealing your junk and other clutter, uninstalling unneeded apps and their leftovers, and keeping your Mac’s system clean and optimized. Another pro is that CleanMyMac X is Apple-notarized, which means it’s safe for your Mac. You can download its free version right here.
Free version: Available here
2. Disk Doctor
Disk Doctor is developed in the UK and was awarded the 'Mac Gem’ award by MacWorld in 2013. CNET and other tech journalists also praise functionality. As of 2020, it still looks like a useful tool for Mac cleaning that removes junk slowing down and reducing the computing power of your Mac.
Free version: N/A
MacBooster is a popular app that is developed at IObit. It cramps so many features under one interface it hardly fits into a “cleaner” niche. What makes it different is the duplicate file remover — an extra option to free up space on Mac. According to the developer, you can altogether delete 20 types of junk files with MacBooster.
MacBooster, in its version 8 rendition, offers real-time Mac protection, which makes it also an antivirus, although, quite a basic one. For example, you can remove malicious browser cookies to evade intrusive advertisements on your Mac. It doesn’t belong to free Mac cleaner apps per se, although a free trial is available. Unlike CleanMyMac, it doesn’t allow you to remove any junk for free in its trial version. To get the taste of MacBooster, you only have to rely on a free scan.
You should know that even when you uninstall MacBooster, some parts of the app may remain on your drive.
Price: $59.95 for Premium version
Free version: Available
OnyX is a french Mac cleaning solution developed by Titanium software. It weighs only 5 MB but that doesn’t mean its capabilities are limited. OnyX is a tool that programmers will have a lot of fun with. With it, you can peek under the hood of your macOS and automate a whole list of jobs, like disk cleanup and cache removal. You can even tweak the color of folders on your Mac, and even make them invisible. Deservedly, it's among best free Mac cleaners.
OnyX is one of the best Mac cleaners because it cleans many specific under-the-surface files, like inner databases and logs. If you know what is XPC cache is, you’ll probably like this app. But for us, ordinary Mac users who came here for the design and glossy buttons, OnyX will require some learning time.
Those who use OnyX say it is stable and reliable. There is no dedicated customer service (because OnyX is free software), but you shouldn’t be worried. The only likely damage is you accidentally deleting files by yourself.
Price: Free cleaner
DaisyDisk gives you a visual representation of your Mac folders, making it easy to see what is taking up space and delete the folders you don't need. All you need to do is select a drive, DaisyDisk will scan it, then you can delete everything that is wasting valuable space. It comes with a free and premium version.
Free version: Trial version available
6. AppCleaner & Uninstaller
If you only need to uninstall apps on Mac, AppCleaner is a good pick. AppCleaner only removes applications, plugins, and widgets, which are again, small apps. AppCleaner works in a familiar drag & drop mode. Its interface is also clean and easy to understand for a newbie.
After feeding the apps to AppCleaner, you should visit the Leftovers section of the app to erase their remains. Why we place AppCleaner & Uninstaller among free Mac cleaner tools? Because it is 100% free. Whether you will fully clean your Mac using it, is a different question.
AppCleaner & Uninstaller is created by FreeMacSoft, also the makers of LiteIcon, an icon customizer for Mac.
Price: Voluntary donation
7. Smart Mac Care
If you launch Smart Mac Care, it will look hauntingly familiar to other free Mac cleaner apps. Not only features will be called the same, everything up to the fonts, will be identical to some other app you’ve just used. That’s not a minus, though. You can still free up a lot of space with Smart Mac Care.
Smart Mac Care operates by a logic of “scans.” There is a Junk Scan, Malware Scan, Privacy Scan, etc. Just like Mac Booster, Smart Mac Care removes duplicates scattered in various locations on your Mac. There’s also a Memory Optimizer feature that promises to free up RAM on your Mac. In a word, Smart Mac Care resembles every other generic product whose only difference is in packaging. This is supported by the fact that we couldn’t find any credible third-party reviews for this app.
On another skeptical note: to uninstall Smart Mac Care you have to enter your admin password. This is not the case with other Mac cleaners we’ve used.
Price: $56.62 per year
Free version: Demo available
8. Drive Genius
Drive Genius is labeled a “Mac monitoring software.” It’s a whole suite of tools that provide powerful disk diagnostics. It’s hard to list a thing that this software doesn’t do. You can scan for malware, secure-erase files, customize icons — it’s dozens of apps in one body. What makes Drive Genius unique is, probably, its search for corrupted files and inconsistencies on your drive. If your Mac is an old one, keeping it in good health will be easier with Drive Genius.
In a free version, you can use just a fraction of tools, notably a DiskPulse utility. This is an automatic Mac health checker that notifies you before your hard drive fails. Unlike Mac cleaners that merely scan, it is able to repair damage on your disks, which makes it a real deal. Be prepared that hard drive scan may take some time, but the results are worth it. Also note that Drive Genius is not available for macOS Catalina (as of the beginning of 2020).
Price: $299 for Professional edition
Free version: Limited Lite edition is available
Originally created in 2004 by Piriform, CCleaner comes with a free and professional version, focusing on businesses and business customers. CCleaner is a cross-platform tool, for PCs, Macs, Android, and it has a Cloud, Network and Technician tool, depending on what you need and the platform/software you use.
The premium version comes with a lot more features, including real-time alerts, free updates, and dedicated support. Although created for PCs in the early days, CCleaner does well to identify unwanted files on a Mac, so that users can select and delete the files and folders they don't need to free up space. As a cleaner for Mac, customers are pretty happy with the results of CCleaner.
Free version: Available
The Sensei app is a relatively new app on the market, but it can be another useful tool for your Mac. The Sensei software developers call the app “Pro Mac Cleaner” on their website. I would call it a performance controlling tool.
Sensei presents a detailed picture of how your Mac performs. In the Dashboard, you can find out information about your MacBook, check your CPU’s current temperature, and see how much of your RAM is used. Cooling gives you exact information on your Mac’s fans' speed.
Its Clean option helps to get rid of user cache, logs, large files, etc. The Uninstaller feature allows you to delete apps from your Mac and remove their traces. It doesn’t list pre-installed apps from Apple, such as Safari or Calendar, but it shows every app you have installed on your Mac.
Surely, you can clean up your Mac manually, but using dedicated software will save you tons of time.
Price: $29 per year
Free version: Available
Frequently Asked Questions
Can’t my Mac clean itself?
Your macOS also has a built-in Mac cleaner, which Apple called Optimized Storage. Though its capabilities are limited, it gives you basic directions on where to start the cleanup. But for a thorough system cleanup and removing malware, you’ll need a dedicated Mac cleaner app.
Can Mac cleaner apps delete my important files?
Typically, best Mac cleaner apps have a protection built-in. They will usually select only those files that are safe for deletion.
Will Mac cleaners slow down my Mac?
Some cleaners try to get into your Login items, thus creating an extra burden on processor. On a flip side, the reliable Mac cleaner apps might even speed up your Mac. They remove all the outdated junk files giving your Mac an extra boost.
Mac cleaning apps you should avoid
Above we've touched the trusted Mac cleanup solutions but there are many that work on the dark side. Malwarebytes lists Advanced Mac Cleaner Pro and similar tools as unwanted applications. Here are some signs that should warn you against using scam Mac cleaners.
Signs of Mac cleaner scam:
- 'Your Mac is infected' intrusive message
- An app is installed as part of different app
- An app finds 2323 (the number is an example) threats on your Mac
- Mac cleaner redirects your search page
Mac Software Cleaner
Be safe and happy cleaning.