How to safely clear cache on a Mac

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 21st December 2021

Cache is when your Mac collects temporary data to help things load faster. Instead of closing down your app or website fully, so the next time it has to load from scratch, cache helps bridge this gap and speed up processes.

The issue is that you’re not going to return to every website you ever go on, and you may not be bothered by the extra half a second that a certain app takes to load. The trade-off of cache is that it can fill up your Mac’s storage and counter-productively slow down the system. 

Read more about cache and how to safely clear it below:

Manually clear app cache

To delete the cache that’s being used for apps specifically, head to Finder and select Go, and then Go to Folder. The next step is to type in  ~/Library/Caches and press enter. Before you delete the cache here, it’s worth backing up the folders that are extra important, just in case something was to go wrong. After pressing enter, go into each folder and delete the files inside (but leave the folders themselves).

Manually delete the system cache

Next up is to delete the cache stored for system processes – usually generated by OS. Of course, you need to be very careful here, because some of the most important files on your Mac are the system files.

To delete the system cache, follow the original steps above. However, instead of typing in ~/Library/Caches, type in /Library/Caches (it’s the same but without the ~). Again, don’t delete the folders themselves, but delete the files within them.

To finalise, empty the Trash.

Automating this task for safety

In case you’re worried about deleting a vital system file, or simply don’t have the time to regularly delete the system cache, then download a 3rd party cache cleaning software. This app can delete the cache (called System Junk within the app) in one hit of the button. This can ensure no mistakes are made, though you may still want to back up important folders. Plus, the cache cleaning apps will state how many MBs/GBs of storage each space contains, so you know the impact of your cache cleaning endeavours.

Clearing internet cache

Another culprit of taking up storage space on your Mac is Browser cache. To empty cache in Safari, head to Safari and then Preferences. After selecting the Advanced Tab, enable the Show Develop Menu. After it appears, head to the Develop section in the menu and click on Empty Caches (around halfway down the menu). 

To do the same on Chrome, head to Chrome settings by clicking the button on the far right of the URL space (three lines). From here, go to Settings, History, and click Clear Browsing Data. However, make sure to only check Cached images and files and not passwords or plug-in data, for example, as this may cause issues if not prepared for. Choosing the “Beginning of Time” option will clear every ounce of the browser cache.

Categories: Tech