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Last Updated on November 7, 2021 by Tom Buford
A browser cache is a hidden feature in every Internet browser. It can be helpful, or at times, it can cause problems. I’ll show you how to clear the browser cache in Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari – all using keyboard shortcuts. Then I’ll show you how to empty the cache using navigation menus.
What a browser cache is and how you can easily empty it using keyboard shortcuts.
You may have encountered the term “browser cache”. Perhaps you weren’t seeing an updated page on a website. Maybe your browser seemed to be running slower than normal. You may have made changes on a website, but the site seemed not to respond. To fix it you may have been advised to clear your cache.
If talk of clearing caches sounds like some foreign language to you, don’t worry. I’ll give you the basics of what a cache is and why you might want to empty it.
In the online world, the subject of caches is a broad one since they can appear in your browser, in the servers where websites are hosted, in software applications, and many more places. In this article, we’ll stick to browser caches.
What are browser caches?
In the most basic terms, browser caches contain copies of website pages you’ve visited. Their primary purpose is to help your browser display those pages more quickly when you visit that page again.
Your browser may temporarily store the text and images from a website you visit. When you visit the same web page again, it should load at least slightly faster because, unless instructed differently by the underlying code on the web page, your browser will use the stored text and images so that you will see the page faster the second time.
It is faster to display a copy of a web page, its images, and any background code that drives the page that is already stored on your computer than it is to request it over the Internet every time it’s needed and wait for it to show up in your browser window from a server halfway around the world.
Websites can give your browser instructions how long to keep copies of web pages but sometimes they don’t.
If you are learning to create websites you may have come across the situation where changes you’ve made to the website in the back-end appear not to have been saved when you view the site on the front-end. The problem is often just that your browser is not keeping up with you. It is showing versions of your website that don’t include your most recent changes.
How to clear the browser cache
You may be told to empty, clear, or delete your cache. Whichever term is used, it means the same thing. You’re being told to delete the previously stored website content so that it won’t interfere with loading the newest version of the page.
I’ll show you how to clear the cache in the four most popular browsers – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge – all using keyboard shortcuts. You should always be using the most up to date version of your browser. These instructions apply to the version that was current on the date this article was written.
Clear the cache in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox using keyboard shortcuts
On Mac computers, the keyboard shortcut to open the window where you can delete your browser cache in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox is Shift + Command + Delete.
On Windows computers using Chrome, Edge, and Firefox the shortcut to clear your browser’s cache is Shift + Control + Delete.
Clear the cache in Safari using a keyboard shortcut
To use a keyboard shortcut to empty the browser cache in Safari, you’ll first need to activate the Develop menu. Do that by going in the top menus to Safari > Preferences > Advanced. Then at the bottom of the Advanced settings page, tick the box next to Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar.
Once you’ve ticked that box, you can use the following shortcut to empty the cache in Safari. Option + Command + E.
Note that you won’t see another settings box appear. The cache will simply be emptied behind the scenes.
Clear your browser cache using menus
If you are a person who prefers to use menus instead of trying to remember a list of keyboard shortcuts, you’re in luck. You can clear the browser cache using your mouse or trackpad if you’d prefer.
Clear Chrome and Edge browser caches using menus
To clear the browser cache in Chrome and Edge browsers without keyboard shortcuts, you’ll use the menu all the way to the far right side of the screen, beyond the address bar and extensions buttons. You’ll recognize it by a button with three dots. It may be vertical [icon name=”ellipsis-v” style=”solid” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] or horizontal [icon name=”ellipsis-h” style=”solid” class=”” unprefixed_class=””].
- Click the three dot [icon name=”ellipsis-v” style=”solid” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] button to open an extended menu.
- Near the bottom, choose Settings.
- In the window that opens, find the menu on the left side of the screen and choose Privacy and Security (Chrome) or Privacy, Search, and Services (Edge).
- Look for Clear Browsing Data. It will be in the first section of settings in Chrome and the second section of settings in Edge.
- You’ll open Clear Browsing Data in Chrome or click the button labeled Choose What to Clear in Edge.
- If you just want to clear the browser cache of old files and images, select Cached Images and Files in Chrome or Edge.
You’re finished. Close the settings and go back to browsing.
Clear the Firefox browser cache using menus
In Firefox for Mac or Windows, look for the “More” button all the way on the right side of the address bar and extensions buttons. It is called a hamburger menu button and will have three horizontal lines stacked one on top of another like this [icon name=”bars” style=”solid” class=”” unprefixed_class=””].
- Click the hamburger menu button, then look for Privacy and Security in the left side menu.
- Scroll down until you see Cookies and Site Data.
- Click the Clear Data Button.
- Tick the checkbox next to Cached Web Content. Leave the top checkbox unchecked if you only want to clear your browser cache. The top one will clear cookies and more.
Clear the Safari browser cache using menus
To clear the cache in Safari using menus, you’ll need to use the Develop menu. If you don’t see the Develop menu, read the section earlier in this article titled Clear the Cache in Safari for instructions on how to make the Develop menu available.
Once it is available, you can clear your cache by opening the Develop menu, then half-way down, click Empty Caches.
Clearing your browser’s cache is a skill you’re eventually going to need if you spend enough time browsing online.
The following tips for getting more out of your browser may come in handy, too.
Find out more about the browsers discussed in this article here: