How to Clear Cache on Mac
Mac Tips

How to Clear Cache on Mac

In this article we’ll talk about three main cache types, discuss how they differ, and—most importantly—describe how they can be cleared.

What Is Cache on Mac (and Why You Should Clear It)

According to Wired, cache is temporary data used by websites, browsers, and applications. Cache make it easier to access necessary information quickly, without downloading it each time. The use of cache can be compared to a road you’ve already drove down—the second time it’s easier to get to your destination, since you can rely on your previous knowledge.

What does “clear cache” mean?

Caching helps to run web pages and applications faster and more efficiently, but sometimes a large amount of cache may lead to file corruption and application crashes. Also, some applications can leave cache files on your Mac even after you deleted them. So, clearing cache regularly is a good idea if you want to save space on your hard drive, improve your Mac’s performance, and prevent web pages and applications from having problems with downloads.

When you should clear cache on Mac

  • A cluttered cache is one of the reasons your Mac is running slow

  • Web pages are not being downloaded correctly or do not respond at all

  • To make sure your data is secured and websites don’t use your sensitive information

  • To enhance privacy and keep your accounts protected

If you want to clear cache on your Mac, take into account the type of cache you want to delete. Methods vary depending on the particular type.

Types of Cache on Mac

There are three main types of cache that your Mac uses: browser, app/user, and system caches. Below you’ll find a brief description of each type.

Browser cache

Your browser collects data from all the websites you visit. This data includes HTML files, Javascript scripts, CSS sheets, and multimedia content (pictures, videos, GIFs). When you revisit these sites, the browser needs to download only the content that has been updated recently or that hasn’t stored in your cache yet.

Caching browser data reduces bandwidth for both server and the user, and it helps to load pages faster. However, a lot of browser cache can use a great amount of space on your hard drive with a cache of websites you might not visit regularly or may not ever visit again.

App cache

App or user cache makes apps run faster and correctly, even if you are offline. It uses local resources and reduces much of the server load, updating only as needed. When creating an app, developers specify what data should be cached to provide the best user experience.  

System cache

System cache stores temporary system data to access apps more quickly. Sometimes it can also become outdated and cluttered, so periodic cache cleaning is required after installing a system update for your Mac—at the very least. Unlike clearing individual app cache, system clearing won’t lead to any loss of your personal data.

How to Clear Cache on Mac: System Cache

A lot of applications on your Macbook keep caches to make them work efficiently. System components of such programs as Maps, Contacts, and Spotlight are relatively small, but applications such as video and photo editors can leave a lot of additional files that clutter your system and influence your Mac’s performance.

To clear system caches from macOS manually, use the guidelines below:

  1. Launch Finder

  2. At the top of the screen select Go → Go to Folder

  3. In the new field, type ~/Library/Caches and click OK

  4. Drag all the unnecessary files to the Trash

  5. To remove the files completely, choose Empty Trash

Bonus tip: To delete caches of another user account, log in to get access to that user’s cache directory. To clear macOS system caches that are shared among several accounts, type: /System/Library/Caches and click OK.

Safe Mode for clearing cache

As an alternative, you can use Safe Mode, which performs certain checks during your Mac start up. It helps to:

  • Delete system cache files

  • Prevent login and startup items from launching automatically

  • Repair directory issues, if possible

  • Load only required kernel extensions (these extensions help to dynamically load the code)

To start up in Safe Mode:

  • Start/restart your Mac

  • Immediately press and hold shift

  • You will see Apple logo (Here's what to do in case it does not appear)

  • After you see the login window, release shift; you may be asked to log in twice if your startup disk is encrypted

  • To leave Safe Mode, simply restart your Mac without using any additional key

Bonus tip: To check if your Mac started in Safe Mode, go to System Information → Software. In this section, you will find Boot Mode that indicates “safe” (instead of “normal”). Please keep in mind that some functions can be limited during Safe Mode.

How to Clear Cache on Mac: App Cache

App cache (or user cache) lets applications on you Mac run offline. Only the resources that have recently changed need to be loaded, while the rest of data is kept in cache. These files can constitute the major part of junk files on your Mac.

You can delete temporary files from your Mac in the same way as your system cache, by going to ~/Library/Caches in Finder’s Go menu and choosing the files within a particular folder’s name.

Bonus tip: Before proceeding with clearing app cache, backup your Mac with a help of Time Machine. You can delete cache files selectively, paying special attention to the largest ones.

How to Clear Browser Cache on Mac

Every time you surf the web, you increase your browser cache. Clearing browser cache not only gives you free space for your data but also secures your privacy by deleting browsing history. However, clearing cache can also remove saved web pages data, logins, and autofills, so proceed with caution.

Leverage browser caching has slight differences depending on the browser you use. We’re going to provide a step-by-step guide for each of five most popular browsers.

Clear Browser Cache in Chrome

Here’s how to clear browser cache in Chrome:

  1. In Google Chrome, click on Menu (three dots in the window’s right upper corner)

  2. Choose Settings menu, and select Advanced

  3. Hit “Clear browsing data”

  4. Choose Cached images and files for All time

  5. Click Clear button

You can also clear Chrome cache and all other browsing data by following the next short guide:

  1. When in Google Chrome, open Chrome menu on the upper panel

  2. Choose “Clear browsing data”

  3. Select the type of data you want to delete (you can deselect Autofill form data and Passwords, if you’re sure they are used for secured websites only)

  4. Hit “Clear browsing data”

  5. Exit all browser windows and re-open Chrome

Clear Browser Cache in Firefox

Here’s a guideline how to clear browser cache for Firefox manually:

  1. Open your Mozilla Firefox browser, and click History on the upper panel

  2. Press Clear recent history

  3. Select the time range to clear (Everything will cover the entire period you have used the browser)

  4. Select the type of data you want to clear, and hit Clear Now

  5. Exit all browser windows, and re-open Firefox

Clear Browser Cache in Opera

A step-by-step guide on how to clear browser cache in Opera:

  1. When in Opera, open the Opera menu on the upper panel

  2. Choose Clear browsing data from the list

  3. Choose the time range (the beginning of the time will cover the entire period you’ve used the browser)

  4. Select the type of data you want to clear from your browser

  5. Press Clear Browsing Data

Bonus Tip: You can also use the combination ⇧⌘⌫ (shift+command+delete) directly from Opera to open browser’s Preferences quickly and clear browser cache.

Clear Browser Cache in Internet Explorer

If you use Internet Explorer, there’s a way to clear cache and cookies:

  1. Open your Internet Explorer browser, and click on the small gear icon located on the upper-right corner

  2. Choose Internet options from the list

  3. In the Internet options dialog, make sure you’re in the General tab

  4. Click Delete in the Browsing history section

  5. Select the type of data you want to delete

  6. Click the Delete button

  7. To finalize the procedure, do not forget to click OK in the dialog.

Bonus tip: To save your chat sessions in progress, reselect Cookies when deleting cache for all browsers.

Clear Browser Cache in Safari

Safari offers a wider range of actions than other browsers when it deals with clearing cache. You can delete cache on individual websites as well as clear cache for saved login items and browser history. You can also remove autocomplete data separately or delete just site logins/logins and passwords.

To clear cache files on Safari, leaving cookies and browser history, proceed with the following:

  1. Open Safari and click Safari menu on the top

  2. Choose Preferences from the list

  3. In the opened window, select the Advanced icon and put a tick for Show Develop Menu (it is located at the very bottom of the window)

  4. Close all active Safari windows before clearing browser cache

  5. Click on the newly activated Develop menu, and select Empty Caches (as an alternative, use a combination ⌥⌘E (alt+command+E)

  6. To start Safari with a clean cache, simply open a new window in the browser

You can also manage content caching service on your Mac. It reduces web data usage and speeds up software installations. A detailed user guide is available for macOS High Sierra and Mojave 10.14.

How to Clear Cache on Mac in One Click? Mackeeper

Now you know all types of cache your Mac has and ways how it can be removed manually. However, all these options require you to address a step-by-step guideline as well as to spend a certain amount of time.

Using third-party software can do all this for you without the need to follow detailed instructions. A cache cleaning app not only deals with unnecessary files cluttered in your computer, but also protects your system and saves hard drive space—all this with just one click.

If you’re an active Mac user and work in several browsers, you’ll need time to clear system, app and browser cache manually. In this case, using special software could be a good idea. Try an automatic cache cleaner, like MacKeeper to save time and effort removing all the unnecessary files that clutter hard drive memory and prevent your Mac from working to its full capacity.

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