Whenever you are having problems with your website, your developer or your web hosting company’s support staff may ask you to clear your browser cache or visit your website through an incognito window.
But why do you need to clear browser cache? What happens when you clear browser cache? How do you clear cache for all major browsers in this world? In this blurb, we are going to find out the answers to all those question – one at a time!
So, let’s find out the answers, shall we?
What is Browser Cache & Why Should You Clear It?
Whenever you visit a website using any web browser of your choice, it will save certain information from the website on the hard drive of your computer. The information that the web browser saves is known as browser cache.
Majority of the times, browser cache is a good thing, because the next time you visit the same website, your web browser need not download the same information from the server where the website sits. This saves some time and the website loads faster.
For instance, you will never expect that the logo of a website will change every day. In fact, the logo is something that is not going to change for years (most likely). So, downloading the same logo again and again doesn’t make any sense. The browser will thus save it and load it locally, the next time you visit the same website.
So, the browser cache is often a very helpful thing. Unfortunately, it can also lead to problems. For instance, you may visit a website exactly at the time when it is malfunctioning or certain elements of the website are not what they are supposed to be.
Suppose, the website’s CSS files are not working properly, and because of it, the entire design of the website is in a mess. If you visit the website that moment, the browser will save the cache, which will include the broken CSS files.
The next time you visit the same website, the browser will, as a slave of its functionality, load the broken CSS files from the local hard drive even though the webmaster has already taken care of the issue. This is when the browser cache will interfere with your web browsing experience.
The best way to get around this problem is to clear the existing browser cache. If you clear it up and then visit the website, you will see the fresh copy of the website (provided the webmaster has also cleared up all server-side or CDN caches.
That’s one of the many scenarios I have told you! There can be other scenarios where you need to clear the browser cache to view the most updated version of the website that you are trying to visit.
To be honest, most of the times, website visitors think that there is a massive problem with the website, while, it is only the browser cache issue from their end. Clearing the browser cache can resolve the issue instantaneously.
How to Clear Browser Cache?
You can take two approaches for this. You can decide to clear the entire browser cache, or you can clear the browser cache specific to a single page of a website. Sometimes, clearing the cache of the single page will be more than sufficient to eliminate the errors. You don’t need to clear the entire cache.
So, before you try to clear up the entire cache, try clearing the cache for that single page that is causing problem. Here is how you do it…
Clearing the Cache of a Single Page
Clearing the browser cache for a specific page is quite simple. Here is what you need to do:
- For browsers on your Windows on Linux desktop: Press CTRL+F5 at once.
- For Firefox and Google Chrome on your Mac desktop: Press CMD+SHIFT+R.
- If you are using Safari on your Mac desktop: Press SHIFT+Reload toolbar button.
By performing one of these actions, you will bypass the cache of a single page and force your web browser to reload every element of the web page you are trying to visit. This action will ensure that the remainder of the browser cache is left untouched.
Clearing the Cache of the Entire Browser
Your web browser saves a lot of things as cache. Sometimes, you need to clear everything to ensure that the websites that you are trying to visit are performing the way they should.
The method of clearing entire browser cache is different from clearing the cache for a single page. There is no shortcut here. You must follow the specific steps for each browser. Yes, the method is different for different browsers. Let’s check out the methods for each of the most famous web browsers of today.
Google Chrome is undeniably one of the most famous web browsers of all time. It doesn’t matter whether Chrome is a memory hog or not. Many people prefer it over other browsers. Here is how you clear up the entire browser cache for Google Chrome:
Click on the vertical ellipsis menu on the far-right top corner of your Google Chrome browser and then click on the ‘Settings’ option you see in the menu that opens.
A new tab will open and the URL will show as chrome://settings. On that new tab, scroll down a bit and you will notice the option of clearing browsing data and clearing cookies and other site data. These options will be under the ‘Privacy and security’ header.
Click on the option which says Clear browsing data and you will see a new popup where you will get various options. You can choose to clear browsing history only, or you can select all the options you see there. You can also select the time frame for which you want to clear the browsing data.
Once you are happy with your selection, you can click on the Clear data button, and the cache will be cleared. If you want to clear only the cache, select the last option.
In case you want more fine-tuned options and want to see what you are removing or deleting, you can move to the Advanced tab. On the Advanced tab you can see this:
On the Advanced tab you can see exactly how much data has been saved by Google Chrome. Here is what you see on that tab:
As before, you can select what to clear and what to keep. If you don’t want the saved passwords to be removed, you can uncheck that option and then clear the data. That’s it!
Removing Google Chrome browser cache is not really a difficult thing. It only takes a few clicks to get the job done.
If you don’t want to go this long way and you are able to remember, you can use the hotkey combination of CTRL + SHIFT + Del. This key combination will pull up the same popup box that you see above. You can then select what you want to delete and what you want to keep and then hit the ‘Clear data’ button.
If you are using Mozilla Firefox, the option of clearing browser cache is slightly different. Read carefully to find out the methods you can use:
On your Mozilla browser, click on the hamburger menu you see on the far-right top corner and from there, click on the ‘Options’ that you see in the open menu.
This will open a new tab with the URL bar showing about:preferences. On the new tab, click on the Privacy & Security tab you see on the left to open the contents corresponding to that menu item. Then scroll down a bit to find the segment which reads ‘Cookies and Site Data.’
Click on the ‘Clear Data…’ button to clear all data including the cache. If you want to manage what you want to delete and what you want to keep, click on the button that reads ‘Manage Data…’
This will open a popup which will show a list of all websites you have opened and the amount of data saved from those sites. You can select the sites for which you want to delete the data and leave the rest untouched. When are done selecting, click on the ‘Remove Selected’ button, and that should clear the cache!
If you don’t want to go this long route, you can use the hotkey combination of CTRL + SHIFT + Del to pull up the popup where you quickly delete the browser cache. You will get the option of selecting different options and the period for which you want to delete the cache.
Microsoft Edge has emerged as a popular browser only recently. It is based on Chromium web browser, and its performance is quite impressive. If you are using Microsoft Edge, here is how you clear the entire cache…
On Edge, click on the horizontal ellipsis menu you see in the far-right top corner of the browser window. Clicking on it will reveal menu options. Find the option that reads ‘Settings.’
Clicking on it will open a new tab where you will see various option on the left. The second option called ‘Privacy, search, and services’ is the one that you need to click on to find the option of clearing browsing data or browser cache.
Clicking on ‘Choose what to clear’ button will give you a popup where you can select whatever you want to clear and deselect everything you want to keep. You can even select the time. This is what you will see:
You can also use the hotkey combination to pull up this popup directly and skip the entire process completely. The hotkey combination is CTRL + SHIFT + Del.
Open your Opera browser and on the far-left top, click on the opera logo, which is a small red ‘O.’ This will open a quick menu. Hover your mouse pointer on ‘History,’ which will open a new sub menu. Click on the option which reads ‘Clear browsing data.’
This will open the settings window on a new tab with a popup where you can select what to delete and what to keep. You can also select the time. There is also an advanced tab with more granular controls.
You can also use the hotkey combination of CTRL + SHIFT + Del to pull up the same popup to clear browser cache.
Once you have decided what to delete, click on the ‘Clear data’ button. That’s it!
I don’t know who uses Internet Explorer today. It is a dinosaur. If you are using it, you must have your reasons. Anyway, I will still show you how to clear the cache of Internet Explorer.
On Internet Explorer, click on the small gear icon you see on the far-right top corner of the browser window. It will open a new menu. Click on the Safety option you see on the menu to open a new sub menu where you will see the option called ‘Delete browsing history…’
Clicking on ‘Delete browsing history…’ opens a new popup window where you can select what to delete.
You will not find any clear mention of the word ‘cache.’ The option you need to select here is ‘Temporary Internet files and website files.’ That’s the one that refers to cache. Once you have selected whatever you want to delete, click on the ‘Delete’ button.
You can pull out the same popup using the hotkey combination of CTRL + SHIFT + Del. That’s it!
I know there are many more browsers that people use. Maybe you are one of them. For instance, I once use Vivaldi and Midori. It is not possible to include every browser in this guide. I included only the major ones as promised by the title. If you think I have missed any important one, feel free to drop a comment.
Also, do not forget that clearing browser cache might not help at times. Such problems popup because of server-side caching or third-party applications used for caching. If clearing browser cache isn’t working for you, try contacting the webmaster of the website you want to access, and let him or her know that you are staring at a broken website.