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What Exactly Is Cache?

Your browser’s cache, pronounced cash, is a collection of web pages stored on your hard drive or in your phone/tablet storage. The cache includes the text, images, and most other media contained on web pages that you’ve visited.

Animation of a magic wand clearing files off of a sad computer screen
Lifewire / Tim Liedtke

Why Do You Have to Clear Cache?

You don’t have to clear the cache as a regular part of computer or smartphone maintenance. However, there are some good reasons to clear cache:

  • Clearing your cache forces your browser to retrieve the newest copy available from the website, something that should happen automatically but sometimes does not.
  • You’re experiencing issues such as 404 errors or 502 errors (among others) that may indicate your browser’s cache is corrupted.
  • Malware is another reason to delete the browser cache. It can be dropped in the cache without you knowing or alongside program installations, so clearing the entire cache can delete malicious files. (It also helps to have antivirus software.)
  • Another reason to delete browser cache data is to free up space on your hard drive. Over time, the cache can grow to a huge size; clearing it can recover some of that previously used space.

Regardless of why you want to do it, clearing your browser’s cache is easy to do in all the popular browsers in use today.

As mentioned above, the quickest way to pull up the “cache clearing” or “browsing data” section in your browser is via Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac) but see one of the sections below for the exact steps involved in clearing your specific browser’s cache.

Chrome: Clear Browsing Data

Assuming you use a keyboard, the quickest way to the Clear browsing data window in Google Chrome is by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac).

If you aren’t into keyboard shortcuts, here’s how to clear the Chrome browser cache on your computer:

  1. Select the three-dotted menu button in the upper-right corner of Chrome and select Settings in the drop-down menu.

    A screenshot of Chrome with the Settings command highlighted
  2. Choose Advanced at the bottom of the page.

    A screenshot of Chrome settings with the Advanced heading highlighted
  3. Select Clear browsing data.

    A screenshot of Chrome Advanced settings with the Clear Browsing Data command highlighted
  4. Check the box next to Cached images and files.

    Also choose All time from the Time range option at the top to make sure you get everything.

    A screenshot of Chrome's Clear Browsing Data window with the removal options highlighted
  5. Choose Clear data.

    A screenshot of Chrome's Clear Browsing Data window with the Clear Data button highlighted


In Chrome’s mobile app:

  1. On Android, open the Chrome app and tap the three-dotted menu icon at the top of the screen. iOS users can find this button at the bottom.

  2. Tap Settings in the menu.

  3. Tap Privacy.

    Screenshots of the Chrome app for Android with the More, Settings, and Privacy options highlighted
  4. Choose Clear browsing data.

  5. Tap Cached images and files to place a check mark next to it.

  6. Select Clear data on Android or Clear Browsing Data on iOS, and then confirm with Clear (Android) or Clear Browsing Data (iOS) in the pop-up window.

    Screenshots of Chrome for Android showing how to delete browsing data

Internet Explorer: Delete Browsing History

In Microsoft Internet Explorer, the browser that comes installed on most Windows computers, you clear the cache in the Delete Browsing History screen.

As with other popular browsers, the fastest way to the Delete Browsing History screen is via the Ctrl+Shift+Del keyboard shortcut.

Another option is:

  1. Open the Tools icon, which sits at the top-right corner of the browser and resembles a gear.

    A screenshot of Internet Explorer with the Settings gear highlighted
  2. Select Delete browsing history under Safety.

    A screenshot of Internet Explorer with the Delete browsing history command highlighted
  3. Place a check next to Temporary Internet files and website files.

  4. Select Delete.

    A screenshot of Internet Explorer's "Delete Browsing History" window with the Delete button highlighted

Internet Explorer often refers to the browser cache as temporary internet files, but they’re one and the same.

Firefox: Clear Recent History

In Mozilla’s Firefox browser, you clear the cache from the Clear Recent History or Clear Data area.

The Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac) keyboard shortcut is the fastest way to open the Clear Recent History screen, which looks like this:

Don’t forget to choose Everything from the Time range to clear options, assuming that’s your intent.

Firefox clear recent history screen

To get to the Clear Data screen through the menus, do this:

  1. In Firefox’s menu button (the three-lined hamburger icon), select Options.

    A screenshot of the More menu in Firefox with Options highlighted
  2. Choose Privacy & Security from the left.

    A screenshot of Firefox preferences with the Privacy & Security heading highlighted
  3. Select Clear Data in the Cookies and Site Data area.

    If you scroll down a bit and choose Clear History, you’ll get to the same screen that the shortcut above takes you to.

    A screenshot of Firefox Privacy & Security settings with the Clear Data button highlighted
  4. In the Clear Data screen that opens, select Cached Web Content.

    A screenshot of Firefox's Clear Data screen with the "Cached Web Content" option highlighted
  5. Choose Clear.

    A screenshot of Firefox's Clear Data screen with the Clear button highlighted


To delete the cache in the Firefox mobile app:

  1. Tap the three-line menu icon at the top (Android) or bottom (iOS) of the app and choose Settings in the menu.

  2. Select Clear private data on Android, or Data Management on iOS.

  3. Enable the Cache option.

  4. Choose CLEAR DATA on Android. If you’re on an iOS device, select Clear Private Data and then confirm with OK.

    Screenshots of Firefox on an Android phone showing how to clear browsing data

Safari: Empty Caches

In Apple’s Safari browser on a Mac, clearing the cache is done via the Develop menu. Just select Develop in the Safari menu bar and then choose Empty Caches.

Safari window showing Develop > Empty Caches

You can also clear the cache in Safari on a Mac using the Option+Command+E keyboard shortcut.

If you don’t see Develop on your Safari menu bar, enable it via Safari > Preferences > Advanced, followed by selecting Show Develop menu in menu bar.


Clearing the browser cache from mobile Safari on your iPhone or iPad is accomplished in a different app.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Safari.

  2. Scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data.

  3. Tap Clear History and Data to confirm.

    Screenshots of an iPhone showing how to delete Safari's data

Opera: Clear Browsing Data

In Opera, clearing the cache is done via the Clear browsing data section that’s part of Settings.

The fastest way to bring up the Clear browsing data window is via the Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac) keyboard shortcut.


  1. Select the Settings icon, which looks like three sliders in the upper-right corner of the browser.

    A screenshot of Opera with the Settings icon highlighted
  2. Scroll down and choose Clear browsing data.

    A screenshot of Opera settings with the Clear Browsing Data option highlighted
  3. Opera automatically selects all items you can delete, including Cached Images and Files. Click Clear Data to remove the information.

    A screenshot of Opera's Clear Browsing Data window with the Clear Data button highlighted

Opera’s website has detailed instructions on how to clear the cache.

Be sure to choose All time at the top to erase everything.


You can clear the cache from the Opera Touch mobile app, too.

  1. Use the Opera button at the bottom of the app to select Settings.

  2. Choose Clear browsing data on Android, or Clear Browser Data on iOS.

  3. Tap Cached images and files to place a check next to it.

  4. Choose CLEAR DATA on Android, or Clear on iOS.

    Screenshots of Opera on an Android phone showing how to delete the browsing data

If you’re using the Opera app, tap Settings from the Opera menu, go to Clear browsing data, choose Advanced at the bottom followed by Cached images and files, and then tap CLEAR DATA.

Edge: Clear Browsing Data

Clearing the cache in Microsoft Edge is done via the Clear browsing data menu.

Microsoft Edge Clear browsing data screen

The fastest way to the Clear browsing data menu is via the Ctrl+Shift+Del keyboard shortcut.

Here’s another option:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and select the three-dotted menu button at the top of the screen.

    A screenshot of Microsoft Edge with the More icon highlighted
  2. Select Settings.

    A screenshot of Microsoft Edge with the Settings option highlighted
  3. Go to Privacy and services.

    If you don’t see these options, open the menu from the button at the top left of this screen.

    A screenshot of Edge settings with the Privacy and Services heading highlighted
  4. Select Choose What to Clear.

    A screenshot of Edge's Privacy and Services settings with the Choose What to Clear button highlighted
  5. Select the items you want to delete and then choose Clear now.

    A screenshot of the Clear Browsing Data window in Edge with the deletion options highlighted

See how to clear the cache in Microsoft Edge for more help.


To delete cache files from the Edge mobile app:

  1. Open the Edge app and tap the three-dotted menu button at the bottom.

  2. Choose Settings.

  3. Select Privacy and Security.

    Screenshots of Edge on Android showing the path to Privacy and Security settings
  4. Tap Clear browsing data.

  5. Make sure Cached images and files is selected on Android, or Cache on iOS. This screen is also how you can delete other items like saved passwords and cookies.

  6. On Android, tap Clear and then confirm with CLEAR. For iOS, choose Clear browsing data and then Clear.

    Screenshots of Opera settings on Android showing how to clear browsing data

Vivaldi: Delete Browsing Data

Clear the cache in Vivaldi via the Delete Browsing Data area.

  1. From the menu bar (select the V logo at the top left if you don’t see it), go to Tools > Delete Browsing Data.

    A screenshot of Vivaldi with the Delete Browsing Data command highlighted
  2. Select Cache as well as any other categories you want to clear.

    You can also use this screen change the Delete Data for time to something else like All Time to clear the whole cache.

  3. Choose Delete.

    A screenshot of Vivaldi with the Delete button highlighted

As with most browsers, the Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac) keyboard shortcut brings up this menu, too.


The Vivaldi app for Android lets you clear the cache as well:

  1. Tap the V icon at the top right of the app and then tap Settings.

  2. Scroll down and select Privacy.

  3. Tap Clear browsing data.

  4. Make sure Cached images and files is selected, and optionally adjust the Time range setting to clear more or less of the cache.

  5. Tap Clear data to erase the cache.

    A screenshot of Opera with the Settings icon highlighted