I say this phase a lot, usually when I’ve made a change to a customer’s website but they’re not seeing it on their computer. What I hear a lot in return is “What is my browser cache?”, followed closely by “How do I do that?”. Here’s my guide to your browser cache.

What is a Browser Cache?

Whenever you visit a webpage, all the files that make up that webpage are downloaded to your computer by your browser. That includes the basic HTML file of the page, scripts, images, any other multimedia content, and CSS style sheets. The directory those files are downloaded to is your browser’s cache. When you re-visit a webpage, your browser first checks the cache to see if the files are there and if they are, it will pull files from the cache first.

Why Does my Browser Have a Cache?

Internet connection speeds used to be a lot slower. I mean, a LOT slower. The folks who programmed browsers wanted browsing to be more efficient, so figured that a cache would be a good idea. Caching makes the browser more efficient and your browsing more enjoyable.

Why Would I Need to Clear my Browser Cache?

Sometimes the files in the cache are not the same as the files on the webpage you want to view. Perhaps the webpage has been updated but you’re not seeing the latest version your browser is showing the cached version instead. Some sites have caching-control settings that tell your browser how long to keep files, but not all do.

BTW, there are more caches than what your browser uses. Sometimes your ISP will cache pages. The webpage you’re trying to visit might be served over a CDN (Content Delivery Network) that delivers cached pages. And, the website itself might use a caching system that hasn’t been updated. However, because the only one of those caches you can control is your browser cache, if you’re working with a website developer or doing your own updates and you’re not seeing changes in the webpages you’re visiting, the first step is usually to clear your browser cache. Let’s look at how to do that.

How to Clear Your Browser Cache

Clearing your browser’s cache depends on which browser you’re using. I’ll cover Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Mac’s Safari. Let’s get to it!

How to Clear the Cache in Google Chrome

  1. Open the Google Chrome browser.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the browser window, click the icon that looks like three vertical dots.
  3. From the “More tools” menu option, choose “Clear browsing data”. (NOTE: Using the Keyboard Shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + DEL combines steps 2 & 3. 
  4. You’ll be presented with a popup window that gives you options, such as choosing the time range, and what items you want to delete. Choosing “All time” and checking all the boxes will effectively clear out your browser’s cache, history, and all other saved information. It’s kind of like blanking your browser’s memory.
  5. Once you’ve selected the time range and items you’d like deleted, click the “Clear data” button.

How to Clear the Cache in Microsoft Edge

  1. Open the Microsoft Edge browser.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the browser window, click the icon that looks like three horizontal dots.
  3. From the “Settings” menu option, you’ll be presented with a popout window with settings. On the left side of that window there are icons in a vertical bar that look like a gear, a padlock, a key, and some slider knobs. Click on the padlock icon to open the “Privacy & security” settings.
  4. Near the top of the Privacy & security menu are the options for Browsing data. Click on the “Choose what to clear” button. (NOTE: Clicking the CTRL + SHIFT + DEL keys will bring you to the “Clear browsing data” menu directly, skipping steps 2, 3, & 4.)
  5. From there, you’ll be given options on what information you’d like to clear. Check the appropriate boxes and click the “Clear” button.
  6. You’ll also note on this menu screen there is an option to “Always clear this when I close the browser”. If you want to clear your cache, delete your history etc. every time you close the browser, make sure that option is selected.

How to Clear the Cache in Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the browser window, click the icon that looks like three horizontal bars (a.k.a. the “Hamburger” menu).
  3. Choose “Options” from this menu, then select “Privacy & Security” from the menu on the left.
  4. Scroll down to “Cookies and Site Data”, then click the “Clear Data” button. You will be presented with options on what to clear. Choose, then click the “Clear” button.

 How to Clear the Cache in the Mac Safari Browser

  1. Open the Safari browser.
  2. In the upper menu bar, click on the “History” menu option.
  3. Click the “Clear History” option at the bottom of the History menu.
  4. You will be presented with a drop-down menu to pick the timeframe. From there, click “Clear History”. This will also delete storied cookies and the browser cache.

 So there you have it. How to clear the cache in the four major browsers. For those of you who are wondering about your mobile phones or tablets, the process should be similar for those devices.

I hope you find this article helpful! If you did, I’d appreciate if you could leave a comment. If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comment section and I’ll be happy to address them. Thank you for visiting!