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How to Clear the System and Internet Caches on a Mac

by William Linden

Clearing the system and browser caches on your Mac is a beneficial practice that can help you reclaim valuable storage space for other essential files. Understanding what caches are and why you might consider deleting them is crucial to making an informed decision about optimizing your Mac’s performance.


What Are Caches, and Why Delete Them?

Caches are temporary files generated by both the operating system and the applications you utilize, encompassing temporary internet files like images and HTML documents produced by web browsers such as Safari or Chrome. These files contribute to faster navigation on your Mac, saving time as the computer doesn’t need to repeatedly download the same data.

In most cases, you may not need to delete caches, as many applications autonomously manage and clean up these files to prevent them from becoming excessively large. However, if you’re seeking a quick way to free up storage space, clearing caches becomes a viable option. It’s crucial to exercise caution and back up your Mac before initiating cache clearance to avoid inadvertently deleting essential data.


How to Clear the Browser Cache on a Mac

Each browser has its cache-clearing process. For Safari, the default macOS browser, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Safari and navigate to the Settings menu.
  2. Head to the Advanced tab in the settings window.
  3. Enable the Show features for web developers option at the bottom.
  4. Click on Develop in the menu bar and choose Empty Caches from the dropdown menu.

Other browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge may have cache-clearing options in their Privacy & Security sections. It’s essential to locate these options within the browser’s settings.


How to Clear Your Mac’s System Cache

To clear system cache files specific to your user account, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Finder and click Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.
  2. In the search box, type ~/Library/Caches and select the first result.
  3. Choose the Mac files and folders you wish to delete and move them to the Trash.
  4. Control-click the Trash on your Dock and select Empty Trash.

For caches associated with other user accounts, modify the folder location to /Users/[username]/Library/Caches, replacing [username] with the relevant user account. Shared system cache files can be found at /System/Library/Caches.


Use Apps to Clear Your Mac’s Cache

While manual cache clearing is an option, using dedicated Mac cleaning apps can streamline the process. CleanMyMac X, a paid option at $39.95 per year, offers a user-friendly interface and built-in antivirus. OnyX, a free alternative, allows you to toggle and delete specific caches.

Regardless of the app chosen, grant it full disk access in System Settings > Privacy & Security to ensure proper functionality.

Unless facing severe storage constraints or troubleshooting specific apps, it’s generally advisable to leave your Mac’s cache files untouched. Numerous alternative methods, such as relocating libraries, deleting large unnecessary files, or connecting an external storage drive, provide effective ways to free up space without delving into cache management.

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