How to Clear Mac’s Browser Cache: Chrome, Firefox and Safari

| Quick Tip

Sometimes it’s desirable to make sure one is looking at the very latest web pages, sometimes for casual use, often for news or development work. To do that means emptying the browser’s saved cache and reloading a fresh page. Here’s how to do that for three popular browsers on the Mac.

This article refers to OS X El Capitan, 10.11.5.

Before we start, recall that browser history is a browser’s maintained list of sites that have been visited. Also, any one site may have its data, images, etc. cached by the browser so that it can be reloaded faster. Clearing the entire cache, doesn’t necessarily clear the history of browsing. Chrome and Firefox make this distinction clear; Safari does not.

I. Chrome Cache

– Reference link: “Clear cache and cookies.

– Chrome version used: 51.0.x.x

– Simplest steps.

  1. Chrome > Clear Browsing Data…
  2. In the window that opens, select the popup for the desired time period.
  3. Check just the box “Cached images and files.”
  4. Click on “Clear browsing data.”

Chrome: clear browser cache

II. Firefox Cache

– Reference link: “How to clear the Firefox cache.

– Firefox version used: 47.0.x

– Simplest steps.

  1. Firefox > Preferences.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Advanced.
  3. In the horizontal tabs, select Network.
  4. Under “Cached Web Content,” click on “Clear Now”

Firefox clear browser cache

III. Safari Cache

Safari 9.x, by default, doesn’t make a clear distinction between clearing browsing history and clearing browser cache. Some sites that discuss clearing the Safari browser cache point to Apple’s page: “Clear your browsing history.

This is a kitchen sink approach because, in order to clear the cache, you end up deleting your browser history and cookies as well. It’s not a bad idea for the novice, but it also may not be what you want. However, there is an explicit, somewhat hidden method for dealing with just the Safari browser cache. You can even do it on a page by page basis.

– To Enable

  1. Safari > Preferences.
  2. Select the Advanced tab.
  3. At the bottom, check the box: “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”

Safari prefs

A new Safari menu item will become visible called “Develop.”

– To Clear All Browser Cache

Develop > Empty Caches (CMD + OPTION + E)

Safari Develop Menu, clear browser cache

– Force Clear a Single Page’s Cache

One of the virtues of this method, once enabled, is that one can force the clearing of the browser cache for a single page with SHIFT + reload. That is, hold down the shift key and click the reload button in the address/search bar.

We’re done. Feedback in the comments is welcome.

3 Comments Add a comment

  1. iJack

    Or, you can get a nifty system toolbar app like MainMenu and clear any or all of your browser caches from anywhere you can see the toolbar, and without any drilling down.

  2. Brutno

    Thanks for the tips. My routine in Safari for the last several iterations is quick and simple:
    COMMAND + OPTION + E empties the cache, and is signaled by Safari flashing the “Develop” in the menu bar. COMMAND + OPTION + R brings up a window that enables a host of options, including clearing the browser history, resetting top sites and removing website data. COMMAND + COMMA brings up the Safari Preferences window with further options as necessary. Simple and quick.

    Not sure of the viability of the above in El Capitan as I’m not there yet.

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