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How to clear the cache on Mac

How to clear the cache on Mac
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Knowing how to clear the cache on Mac is useful if you want your computer to run efficiently. Although the cache contains temporary files which are accessed frequently to speed up apps and other processes, it can become clogged or corrupted. It's a good idea to declutter the cache every now and then, and free up any wasted space.

In this guide, we're going to look at clearing two types of cache: the user cache and system cache. A user cache includes data stored by apps — it will allow you to remove any stored personal data or any outdated files. A system cache comprises files that are being used by the operating system. 

It's easy to remove either one, but it's also important to tread carefully. First of all, make sure you have a back-up of the files you are about to clear. We can't stress this enough. It's a way of ensuring you're not going to be left high and dry if you make a mistake.

Second, it's best not to indiscriminately remove files. If you don't know what effect removing something from the cache will have, either leave it alone or go online and search the file's name to see if it could potentially cause a problem.

How to clear the cache on Mac: User cache

In summary, these are the steps for clearing the user cache on a Mac:

  • Open Finder, click go and click Go to Folder
  • Type ~/Library/Caches
  • Right-click on a file
  • Click move to Trash

Read on to see detailed instructions.


Manually clear the Mac's user cache

1. First, open Finder on your Mac and click Go in the toolbar. Now click Go to Folder from the menu.

(Image credit: Future)

2. In the pop-up box which appears, type ~/Library/Caches and press Enter.

(Image credit: Future)

3. You will see a folder containing your Mac's cached files. You can press Command-A on your keyboard to select all of the files and right-click on the highlighted selection. Alternatively – and more preferable – right-click on an individual file. That way, you are less at risk of clearing something important.

Remember: It's always a good idea to back-up any files and folders that you are looking to change. That way, you can put them back if something goes wrong.

(Image credit: Future)

4. In either case, click Move to Trash or Move to Bin depending on where you live. This will move the cache files to the trash. You can now click the Trash can icon in your Mac's Dock and select Empty.

(Image credit: Future)

How to clear the cache on Mac: System cache

You can also clean up any cached files created by macOS. This is only really recommended if you know what you're doing or if you find you're having problems with a program.

Again, as with the app cache, it's always a good idea to backup any files you are about to change!

1. Open Finder on your Mac, click Go in the toolbar and click Go to Folder from the menu.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Type /Library/Caches and press Enter.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Open a folder and delete the files that are inside it.

(Image credit: Future)

And there you go. That's how you clear the user and system caches of your Mac. You can also learn how to edit PDFs on Mac, how to right click on Mac, how to remote desktop on Mac, how to clear cache on iPhone, discover how to uninstall apps on a Mac, or find out how to free up space on iCloud

David Crookes is a freelance writer, reporter, editor and author. He has written for technology and gaming magazines including Retro Gamer, Web User, Micro Mart, MagPi, Android, iCreate, Total PC Gaming, T3 and Macworld. He has also covered crime, history, politics, education, health, sport, film, music and more, and been a producer for BBC Radio 5 Live.