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 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.
Sounds great, right?
For the most part it is. But over time cache files build up. Even though they are “temporary,” nobody is taking out the trash. These cache files start to take up your storage space and instead of speeding things up, they slow your Mac down.
We’re going to show you the main types of cache files and how much space you could free up by clearing them.
Are your ready to reclaim space on your Mac? Let’s go!
There are roughly three main types of caches you can clean on your Mac: user cache, system cache (including app cache and DNS cache), and browser cache. This article will go over cleaning up all three.
Now, when it comes to clearing cache on Mac, there are two ways you can do it. You can clean them up manually step-by-step, or you can clean them in second with a cleaning utility like CleanMyMac 3. If you want to clear cache on you Mac right now, we suggest doing it the easy way:
- Launch CleanMyMac 3
- Select System Junk
- Click "Scan", and then “Clean”
That’s it, all cache files cleaned! CleanMyMac 3 works on all systems, including the latest macOS Sierra. You can download CleanMyMac 3 for free here and try.
However, if you’d like to clean them all manually, follow the steps below.
Delete user caches on a Mac manually
Potential space reclaimed from junk - Up to 70%
User cache makes up the majority of Mac junk on your system. A good user cache 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 afterward so your Mac can begin to create new, fresh cache files.
If you aren’t comfortable with the risk of deleting user cache manually, a specialist cleaning app CleanMyMac 3 can do it for you. It will only remove files you don’t need and will find up to 7x more temporary cache files to remove from all over your system.
Clear system and app cache on your Mac manually
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 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.
To be on the safe side, use CleanMyMac, it works with a Safety Database and knows how to clear app cache safely. As if that wasn’t enough it will also remove more junk than manual methods.
Flushing your DNS cache on a Mac
Another example of system cache is DNS cache. These are old cache entries that translate internet domain names (example.com) into IP addresses on your Mac. Clear DNS cache regularly to make sure all websites work correctly.
To manually flush DNS cache:
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache;sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder;say cache flushed
Note: if you have OS X 10.10.0-10.10.3, use:
- Open Terminal by typing “terminal” into Spotlight
- Type this into Terminal:
sudo discoveryutil mdnsflushcache;sudo discoveryutil udnsflushcaches;say flushed
- Enter your admin password to execute the command
How to clear internet cache (or browser cache) manually
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.
Chrome clearing cache tutorial
Here’s how to clear browser cache in Chrome manually:
- Click the burger icon in the top right corner of Google Chrome browser.
- Choose Settings.
- In the left menu, choose History.
- “Clear browsing data.”
- Deselect all, but Cached images and files.
- Timewise, choose the beginning of time.
- Hit “Clear browsing data” button.
Firefox clearing cache tutorial
Here’s how to delete cache in Firefox manually:
- In the History menu, select Clear Recent History.
- From the drop-down menu with time range, select the desired range; to clear all the cache, select Everything.
- Next, click the down arrow next to Details and choose only Cache.
- Click Clear Now.
- Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
Safari clearing cache tutorial
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 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 cache. Cache clearing can take awhile, so you can try clearing your local DNS cache to speed it up.
Manual methods remove most of the browser junk but if you want to remove all of it, from all your browsers at once, there’s a safer and faster method to clear your internet cache on any browser.
How to clear cache files on Mac with a single click of a button
Instead of searching all over your Mac to find and remove cache files yourself, you can clear user caches on a Mac using CleanMyMac 3. It makes removing cache files as easy as can be.
Are you ready to get rid of all cache on your Mac in a second? Check out detailed instructions in our video tutorial:
To get rid of cache files with CleanMyMac 3:
- Download CleanMyMac 3 (free) and launch it.
- Select System Junk in the left menu.
- Hit Scan at the bottom of CleanMyMac 3.
- Then click Clean.
And you're done! If you’d like to remove only cache files and nothing else, click on Review Details before clicking Clean. Deselect everything but System Cache Files and User Cache Files, then click Clean.
The easy way to clear all browsing data
Instead of clicking between browsers and being limited to what they let you clean, take full control of all your browser cleaning with this simple method:
- Open CleanMyMac and select the Privacy module
- Click on your browser of choice
- Make your selections from the list of all your cache and privacy tracks
- Click Remove to clean your browser
Cleaning your Mac has never been easier. Download CleanMyMac 3 and try for free to get yourself a faster, cleaner Mac — without worrying about cleaning the wrong thing.