How to clean Cache files on your Mac
You’ve probably heard and seen the term “cache” used on your Mac but do you know what it is?
Cache files are basically temporary data stored on your hard drive and used to speed up processes. For instance, Safari will download images on a webpage into cache so that next time you visit the site you don’t have to download the images again.
How are cache files different from cookies?
Cookie files are tiny members of the big cache family. This form of cache is collected by your browser to remember previously visited websites. Cookies collect the details of your visit, its duration, actions on a page, etc. Advertisers also use these to follow you around the internet. However annoying they are, cookies are a part of internet reality that we cannot help but “Accept”
There are many reasons to remove old cache from your MacBook and disk space issue is only one of them. So what are the other benefits?
- Fixing issues with laggy web pages that load outdated content
- Removing personal data stored by websites and applications.
- You need to force-delete outdated cache from an app.
Are you ready to reclaim space on your Mac? Let’s go!
What are the main cache types?
There are roughly three main types of caches you can clean on your Mac:
- System cache
- User cache (including app cache and DNS cache)
- Browser cache
This article will go over cleaning up all three.
Potential space reclaimed from junk — Up to 70%
As you can see, a single user cache folder on my computer takes up enormous 1.6 GB of space. And that’s just one folder out of hundreds. That means a good cleaning could free up gigabytes of free space and speed up your Mac in the process.
To clear your user cache, do the following:
- Open a Finder window and select “Go to Folder” in the Go menu.
- Type in ~/Library/Caches and hit enter to proceed to this folder.
- Optional step: You can highlight and copy everything to a different folder just in case something goes wrong.
- Go into each of the folders and clean out everything.
Note: We recommend that you remove the insides of these folders, but not the folders themselves.
Now, repeat the same steps above, but substitute…
~/Library/Caches with… /Library/Caches
Make sure that once you have finished clearing out these caches for additional hard drive space, you empty out your Trash. To do this, Control-click on the Trash icon in the dock and select “Empty Trash.” Restart your Mac afterwards so your Mac can begin to create new, fresh cache files.
To help you make sense of your Library folder here’s a brief explanation of what each subfolder stands for.
4 main types of the cache within the Library folder
Temporary data created by apps and websites. Your apps keep generating cache files for as long as they are active. Relying on such pre-loaded content reduces memory load and speeds up data exchange.
Preferences folder is where you’ll find customized settings for your apps. Sometimes, there is a need to reset an app and delete its corrupted Preferences file. Preference files always end with .plist — so they are easy to spot and delete.
App support folder contains large pieces of app data, like game saves. App support files may remain on your Mac long after you’ve deleted the app itself. That’s why “cleaners” for system junk were invented.
Containers folder is an exchange buffer that apps use to communicate with one another. This is often referred to as “sandboxing.” Containers folder is automatically emptied after you restart your Mac.
So, how to delete system and app cache on Mac
Potential space reclaimed from junk — Up to 10% (manual methods) or 15% (using cleaner)
Next up we’re looking at your system cache files. These hidden cache files are mainly created by the apps that run on your Mac.
What is app cache? In short, it’s any media downloaded by the apps you use in order to work faster and not load it every time you open the app. Do you need it? It’s debatable, but app cache takes up disk space and can be cleaned.
You can delete app cache on Mac in the same way as user cache, by going to ~/Library/Caches and removing the insides of the folders with the app name.
Proceed with caution! Not all app cache can be safely cleared. Some app developers keep important user info on cache folders. Backing up a folder before you delete is always a good idea. If everything works fine then you can delete the backup later.
How cache is created? An example from Photos
Every time you do image manipulations, like rotating a picture, its additional copy is created on your drive. In this manner, just 4 rotations are enough for image size to grow from 2.5 MB to 10 MB of disk space taken. If you edit photos and videos on a regular basis, you may notice that your editor application also keeps temporary data — like an intermediate version of your files.
#1. How to clear browser cache on Mac
Potential space reclaimed from junk — Up to 15%
We all love to surf the web but every site we visit adds to the growing browser cache. Clearing your browser cache doesn’t just free up space, it will can also clear your browsing history to secure your privacy.
Browser cache temporarily stores website data such as images, scripts, and other stuff, in order to make your browsing faster when you revisit the same site. If you’re worried about your privacy or want to hide pages you’ve visited, you can clear your Internet cache (or browser history). Also, resetting your browser cache will potentially help to get rid of 404, 502, and other errors caused by corrupted cache.
Each browser has its own cache location, so the process of clearing is different in each case. For instance, Chrome cache location is in Settings, Safari stores its cache in Privacy, and Firefox cache location is History tab.
Here’s a quick introduction into how to delete browser cache on Mac.
#2. How to clear cache in Chrome
Here’s how to clear browser cache in Chrome manually:
- Click the 3-dot icon in the top right corner of Google Chrome browser.
- Choose Settings.
- At the bottom of the menu, choose Advanced.
- Click “Clear browsing data.”
- Deselect all, but Cached images and files.
- Timewise, choose All time.
- Hit “Clear data” button.
#3. How to clear cache in Firefox
Here’s how to delete cache in Firefox manually:
- Click the hamburger icon in the top right corner.
- Choose Privacy & Security on the left sidebar.
- Scroll to the section “Cached web content” menu item.
- Now, click Clear Now to delete Firefox cache.
- Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
In the same menu, checkmark Override automatic cache management and limit the cache size in MB. Go with the default amount of 350 MB, which is enough for most users’ needs.
If for some reason you cannot open a web page, try putting cache: in front of the URL address. This redirects you to the site’s cached copy.
For example: cache:macpaw.com
It works most of the time and can magically open even the otherwise blocked sites.
#4. How to clear cache in Safari
Safari is a little trickier than the rest of the browsers. You could remove caches together with all the other website history through History — Clear History in the menu bar.
But if you need more precision, here’s how to empty cache on Safari browser:
- In the top menu, choose Safari.
- Click Preferences.
- Choose the Advanced tab.
- Enable Show Develop menu in menu bar.
- Now go to Develop in menu bar.
- Choose Empty caches.
Make sure you close/quit the browser and restart it after clearing the cache. Note, that all your auto logins and predicted websites in the address bar will be cleared.
I hope that you found this advice helpful, good luck! ;)