How to clear cache on Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, iMac, and other models

You've probably encountered the word cache or CACHE files a million times while browsing the web. You might even have the idea engraved in your brain that it is better to clear the cache on Mac. But is that really what you should do? 

In this article, we're going to uncover the hidden truth about cache. But before we get into that, let's define it first so we can all be on the same page.

Cache defined

Cache is storage (or memory bank) that helps to quickly retrieve and collect temporary data to help your device, websites, browsers, and apps load faster. Whether it's a computer, laptop or phone, web browser, or app, you'll find some variety of a cache.

What are the main cache types?

There are roughly three main types of caches on your Mac:

  • System cache

Mac's system cache is a memory bank that connects the main memory and the processor. This allows CPU, or central processing unit, to retrieve data that your device uses to execute instructions quickly and without the need to load it bit by bit.

  • Browser cache

      Doesn't matter what web browser you use, they all have their own cache. Those caches store files and their elements like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, cookies, or images that your browser uses to display websites. For instance, product page images, login information, shopping cart content, etc.

      • User cache (including app cache)

          Just like a web browser, the app maintains cache of its own. It helps quickly reload images, search history, videos, and other needed information to speed up and improve the performance and efficiency of the apps.

          Bottom line: your Mac creates different types of Mac's system cache whenever you use an app or browse a website. So if you don't clear cache on Mac, those files start to pile up, causing system errors and app crashes. While it's not entirely safe to delete all cache files at once to prevent erasing your last activities, you should still remove the outdated files that often lie unused. It will help with: 

          • Fixing laggy web pages that load outdated content
          • Removing personal data stored on websites or apps
          • Deleting outdated cache from an app 

          So should you hold on tight to cache files or let go of them? 

          The correct answer is to let them go. But how? How to clear cache on MacBook based on the main cache types? You'll find out in the next section, so stay with me! 

          4 Insanely easy formulas to clear cache on Mac

          1. How to delete system cache on Mac

          Potential space reclaimed: Up to 10% (manual methods) or 15% (using a Mac cleaner)

          Let's dive into your Mac's system cache files generated by the built-in macOS system services. To see where your Mac stores system cache, type /Library/Caches in Finder's Go menu.

          To check how much space your system cache takes, right-click the Cache folder and click Get Info.

          You'll see the size of the folder in the info window:

          The system cache files are essential for correct system functioning. They also don't take lots of space, just a couple of megabytes — so it's wise not to touch them. But there is a safe way to remove system cache: CleanMyMac X

          This utility app effortlessly removes temporary files, outdated cache, app leftovers, and more. Already after your first Scan, you'll be able to enjoy better performance, higher speed, and a good amount of free disk space. Not bad, ha? Here's how it works:

          1. Launch CleanMyMac X (download for free here).
          2. Select System Junk.
          3. Click Scan, and then Clean.
          CleanMyMac X - System junk scan complete

          That's it. All cache files cleaned! CleanMyMac X is compatible with all systems, including the latest macOS version.

          2. How to delete browser cache on Mac?

          Potential space reclaimed: up to 15%

          We all love to surf the web, but every site we visit adds to the growing browser cache. Let's clear the browser cache on Mac to free up space and remove browsing history to secure your privacy.

          How to clear cache in Safari

          Safari is a little trickier than the rest of the browsers. You could remove caches and 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 in the Safari browser:

          1. In the top menu, choose Safari.
          2. Click Preferences.
          3. Choose the Advanced tab. Check the box next to the "Show Develop menu in the menu bar" option.
          4. Now go to Develop in the menu bar.
          5. 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. Let's move on to the next browser. 

          How to clear cache in Chrome

          Here's how to clear browser cache in Chrome manually:

          1. Enter chrome://settings in the search bar and press Return.
          2. In the "Privacy and security" section, click "Clear browsing data."
          3. Deselect all but "Cached images and files."
          4. Timewise, choose "All time" and hit the "Clear data" button.

          Let's move on to our last browser.

          How to clear cache in Firefox

          Here's how to delete cache in Firefox manually:

          1. Enter this command about:preferences into the search bar.
          2. Select the Privacy & Security panel.
          3. In the Cookies and Site Data, click Clear Data.
          4. Check Cached Web Content and click Clear to confirm.

          Alright, it seems like we've cleared all browser cache. Now, let's try to do the same for the user cache on Mac.

          3. How to empty user cache on Mac?

          Potential space reclaimed: up to 70%

          Fun fact, the single-user cache folder on my computer takes up an enormous 2.7 GB of space. And that's just one folder out of hundreds. That means a good Mac cleaning could free up gigabytes of space and speed up our devices. 

          To clear your user cache manually, do the following:
          1. Open Finder and select "Go to Folder" in the Go menu.
          2. Type in ~/Library/Caches and hit Go to proceed to this folder.
          3. Optional step: You can highlight and copy everything to a different folder if something goes wrong.
          4. 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.

          Make sure to empty the Trash once you have finished. To do this, Control-click on the Trash icon in the dock and select "Empty Trash." Restart your Mac afterward so your Mac can begin to create new, fresh cache files.

          4. How to remove application cache on Mac?

          As we've learned today, an app cache is any data downloaded by the apps to make it work faster. Do you need it? It's debatable, but there is no harm in deleting the app cache to free up disk space and improve app performance. 

          Some apps may generate more cache than others, for instance, Spotify, Xcode, and Steam. But removing it is still a piece of cake. 

          1. You can delete the app cache on Mac by going to ~/Library/Caches.
          2. Each folder contains a different app cache; for example, com.spotify.client stores Spotify cache. 

          To delete the app cache, clear up those folders: press Command-A to highlight all files, then right-click them and move to Trash.

          And again, use CleanMyMac X, which works with Safety Database to clear cache on Mac safely. What's more, it removes more junk than manual methods. Download CleanMyMac X for free and get a faster, cleaner Mac — without worrying about removing the wrong things.

          Frequently asked questions

          What are cache files?

          Cache files are scripts, images, temporary files, and other data left on your Mac after you visit a website or use an app for the first time.

          Is it safe to remove cached data?

          There's no danger in deleting cache files. And if your system needs to access the information you deleted, it will automatically recreate the same cache files.

          Where are the cache files stored on Mac?

          The app and user cache files are usually located in ~/Library/Caches where you can find a folder for each app you have on your Mac.

          Laptop with CleanMyMac
          CleanMyMac X

          Your Mac. As good as new.