How to clear the cache on your Mac computer to make it run more efficiently

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  • When you clear your Mac computer’s cached data, you’re deleting the temporary media files, like images and text files, that it gathers from the sites you visit. 
  • Those files help reduce internet data usage and speed software installation on your Mac. But it’s important to clear your cache periodically because it can help protect your identity and make your computer’s applications run more efficiently.
  • Luckily, it’s easy to get those cached files deleted from your Mac (even if your shortcut buttons aren’t working). Here’s how.

You may have heard that it’s important to clear the cache on your various electronic devices every once in a while. But what exactly is caching, and why do our devices use it?

Cached data consists of the various temporary files that exist on a reserved area of your computer. According to Apple, cached data on your Mac computer speeds up the downloading of Apple software as well as the data users store in iCloud by “saving content that local Mac computers, iOS devices, and Apple TV devices have already downloaded,” and cached data is “available for other devices to retrieve without going out over the Internet.”

Caching is especially important if your Mac is set up with wired ethernet, rather than relying on Wifi. And you’ll get the best performance out of it when it’s connected to your network using Gigabit Ethernet, according to Apple.

But as long as your Mac is set up to cache, that data needs to be cleared periodically to make your computer run more efficiently. That’s because clearing your cache can help protect your identity, make apps run better on your computer, and prevent you from using outdated forms that your Mac collected when you first visited a site.

Here’s what you need to know to get your Mac’s cache cleared:

How to clear the cache on your Mac using shortcuts

Shortcuts make the process of clearing your Mac’s cache extremely fast and easy. Here’s how to do it:

1. Press shift-command-G with your Finder window open. 

2. Enter the following command into the search box: ~/Library/Caches

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3. Click “Go.” This will bring you to the folder which contains all of your Mac’s cached files.

4. Press command-A to select all folders. 

5. Click command-delete.

6. You’ll get a pop-up asking to confirm that you want to delete all of those files, and you’ll need to enter your Mac’s password to complete the action.

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Please note: If you have open windows, you will likely still see a folder in there. Otherwise, it should be completely empty.

How to clear the cache on your Mac without shortcuts

If your keyboard is having issues or the command keys just aren’t reliable anymore, you can still clear the cache on your Mac. It just takes a little extra time. Here’s how to get it done:

1. Close or minimize all windows so that the toolbar at the top of your screen says “Finder.”

2. Select “Go,” and under that click on “Go to Folder.”

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3. Enter the following command into the search box: ~/Library/Caches

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4. Click “Go” to view the folder which contains all of your Mac’s cached files.

5. Go back up to the toolbar at the top of the screen and click “Edit” then “Select All.”

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6. Under “File,” located in the toolbar at the top of the screen, select “Move to Trash.”

7. Enter your Mac’s password in the action confirmation pop-up to clear your computer’s cache.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to clear the cache on your iPhone and make it run faster

  • How to download music and other audio files to your iPhone

  • How to stop robocalls and other spam calls from reaching your iPhone

  • How to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer

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