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How to clear cache on Mac

9 min read

Your Mac takes care of routine maintenance behind the scenes eventually, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep things tidy yourself in the meantime. One easy way to keep your Mac running at its best is to regularly clean the cache.

In this guide, we explain how to clear cache on MacBook both manually and using some automation. Let’s start with the definition of cache. 

What is cache? 

“Clean up cache” almost sounds like some universal troubleshooting technique people throw on you whenever you have an issue with your Mac. Although it’s not true, deleting cache can indeed speed up your Mac and improve Mac performance. So what is cache on Mac? 

Cache is data your Mac stores to speed up certain processes. If you’re wondering “which caches can I delete Mac?” here are the three types: 

  • User (or app) cache includes cache files created by all the apps that you use on Mac. It includes apps that came with your macOS (like Mail) as well as 3rd-party apps (like Sketch). Every application creates lots of cache — it wouldn’t be surprising to clear up gigabytes of space when cleaning app caches.
  • System cache is cached data created by the built-in macOS system services. 
  • Browser cache refers to all browsing history and cache data saved from websites you visit. You know how you shop for something online and then for weeks you’re seeing it everywhere? That’s because your browser caches hundreds of files that make up the websites you visit. 

Why delete cache? 

There are three main reasons why you should clear cache on Mac: troubleshooting, privacy, and freeing up storage space. 

If your Mac is running too slowly or there’s some app that’s acting strange, delete the old app and system caches to fix the issue. Old cache files do nothing but cluttering your system and slowing down your Mac through all the wasted space they are taking up.  

As for browser caches, they might include cookies and trackers that save information about your browsing history and report the data back to the site. This works out in your favor when you return to a site without having to log in again, but it can also leave you feeling like your computer is spying on you.

Here's a guide to cleaning all these caches, at the end of which your Mac will be lighter and leaner. 

One-click app to remove all cache at once

The good news is there’s a dedicated app that can clear browser cache in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, as well as your system cache, email cache, user cache files, and even your DNS cache files. Meet CleanMyMac X. 

Here’s how to get rid of user and system cache files using CleanMyMac: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X via Setapp
  2. Select System Junk in the left sidebar
  3. Hit Scan at the bottom of the app's window
  4. Then click Clean. 

clear system cache mac

And you're done! If you’d like to remove only cache files and nothing else, click on Review Details before clicking Clean. Deselect everything but System Cache Files and User Cache Files, then click Clean. 

To remove browser cookies and cache: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X > Privacy 
  2. Run a scan 
  3. Select the browser and the items you want to delete
  4. Hit Remove. 

clear browser cookies mac

How to clear cache on Mac via shortcuts

No CleanMyMac X? Don’t worry, we have a solution. Manually clearing cache files on a Mac is something that anyone can do. It takes some time and patience, but if you follow our instructions, you can get the job done all by yourself. 

Cached app files stored on your computer can be deleted using a few keyboard shortcuts: 

  1. With Finder open, hit Shift+Command+G on the keyboard
  2. In the Go to Folder field, enter ~/Library/Caches and click Enter
  3. Open the folders with cached files
  4. Delete the selected files (you might need to confirm your intention). 

Be careful: not all app cache files can be safely deleted. Some app developers keep important information in cache folders. The great idea is to back up a folder before you erase all files inside. If everything works fine, you can delete this backup.

clear cookies shortcut

Tip: Want to automate your “Mac clear caches” flow? Record the steps you perform to clear up caches using Keysmith, a productivity app that lets you set up your own macros and assign keyboard shortcuts to them. 

cache mac

How to delete system cache manually 

System cache files are generated by macOS and, unlike application cache, have nothing to do with the user. The hidden system caches are mainly created by the apps that run on your Mac. The clearing of system cache is not recommended in manual mode, unless you are very careful or trying to fix a problem. System cache files do not generally take up much space, which is another reason why a clean out isn’t as necessary as with user cache.

Still, you can clean up system cache data manually via Finder: 

  1. Open Finder > Go > Go to Folder
  2. Go to /Library/Caches and hit Enter 
  3. System cache folders are named com.apple and should be backed up for safety
  4. Go into the com.apple folders and delete the files inside of them. Only the files, not the folders! 

As we’ve mentioned, deleting cache manually can be tricky unless you use a professional tool such as CleanMyMac X. We encourage you not to rush into deleting caches every time your Mac slows down, freezes, etc. Instead, use iStat Menus

iStat Menus is a system monitoring utility that gives you insights into your Mac’s performance. Check CPU and RAM consumption, temperature, and other performance indicators that directly influence how your Mac runs. What’s more, you can set up personalized notifications so that iStat Menus works as a warning system, letting you know about all performance issues in real time. 

istat mac

How to empty application cache 

Application cache makes up the majority of junk data on macOS. Your apps accumulate tons of user cache data on a hard disk, the longer they are in use. Some apps and utilities can build up cache sizes that reach into gigabytes. This is often just a waste of space, particularly with apps you don’t use every day. By clearing your user apps cache files, you’ll be amazed at how much hard disk space you can reclaim. 

To find and clear your user cache manually, do the following:

  1. Open Finder > Go > Go to Folder
  2. Go to ~/Library/Caches and hit Enter 
  3. Remove the insides of ~/Library/Caches, but not the folders themselves.
  4. Want to make sure your junk user cache data is gone forever? Empty out your Bin.

If you are unsure and want a safer option, use CleanMyMac X to handle caches properly. It will find up to 5x more junk cache data to remove from all over your system.

Another useful tip is to use App Tamer to fix app misbehavior before you delete caches. Often, some of your apps hang or use an excessive amount of resources, and App Tamer can help “calm them down:”

  1. Open App Tamer via Setapp 
  2. Activate CPU tracking and check the list of the biggest CPU hogs
  3. Click on the app and define the rules for when it should be tamed — you can choose to completely quit it or slow it down once it starts eating up certain amount of CPU. 

app tamer

How to delete browser cache 

We love our browsers but we don’t love it when they start to use up disk space with cache files. Whether you’re wanting to free up space, get your browser performing better or trying to remove your history for the sake of privacy, removing your Mac browser cache will help. 

Flush DNS caches

Your Mac’s DNS cache is a list of all the DNS queries that were resolved for every site. When you type in "setapp.com," the DNS server resolves that to a numerical IP address. But if you notice a site not loading, or your browser acting up or working too slowly, resetting the DNS cache might be the cure.

To flush DNS cache manually, use this clear cache Mac Terminal flow:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Type this into Terminal: sudo dscacheutil -flushcache;sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder;say cache flushed
  3. Press Enter to run and fill your admin password to execute the command.

To clean your Mac’s DNS cache in one click: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X and select Maintenance in the left sidebar
  2. Check the box for Flush DNS Cache
  3. Click the Run button at the bottom of the window. 

dns cache mac via cmm

Clear Safari caches step by step

To delete Safari's website caches and cookies manually:

  1. Go to Safari Settings
  2. In the window that appears, click the Advanced tab, and enable “Show Develop menu in menu bar”
  3. In the menu bar, go to Develop and choose Empty Caches.

clear safari caches mac

Chrome clearing cache tutorial

The simplest way to clear Chrome browser cache manually is the following:

  1. In the top right corner of the Google Chrome browser, click the 3-dot icon to choose Settings
  2. At the bottom of the menu, choose Advanced 
  3. Click Clear browsing data and deselect all, but Cached images and files. Choose the time range and hit the Clear data button.

clear cache chrome mac

One more way to delete Chrome browser cache is to clear some folders where this data is located. 

  1. Open Finder > Go > Go to the Folder
  2. Enter ~/Library/Caches/Google/Chrome/
  3. Select files within these folders and delete them.

How to delete cache in Firefox manually

Lastly, a Mac empty cache guide for Firefox users: 

  1. Open Firefox and go to History > Clear Recent History 
  2. Specify the time range and select Cache 
  3. Click Clear Now. 

Сlean cache data from all browsers at once

Once again, a timesaver we love immensely: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X > Privacy 
  2. Click Scan at the bottom of the app's window
  3. Check the list of all the data you can remove by browser
  4. Deselect everything you want to keep
  5. Click the Remove button at the bottom of the window. 

clean cache all browsers

How to clear cache on MacBook: Setapp advice 

Clearing cache on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or any Mac you use is easier if your flow is sprinkled with some automation. CleanMyMac X is certainly the tool to delete all types of caches easily and securely. But also, don’t rush into things. Maybe instead of clearing cache what you really need is to track down the underlying system issues such as overheating or excessive RAM usage. Or, you might need to tame the apps that affect your Mac performance. That’s where iStat Menus and App Tamer step in. 

CleanMyMac X, iStat Menus, and App Tamer are part of Setapp, a comprehensive subscription for macOS and iOS, so you can try them all for 7 days free. 


How do I find cache on Mac?

You can access the caches your Mac stores via Finder > Go > Go to Folder > ~/Library/Caches. If you’re interested in tracking real-time cache activity on your Mac, open Activity Monitor and go to the Cache tab (you’ll see it if Content Caching is enabled: System Settings > General > Sharing > Content Caching). 

Should you clear cache on Mac?

Yes, you should clear cache on Mac to free up space on your drive and tune up your Mac for better performance. Deleting browser cache will help you avoid unnecessary tracking online, so if you’re worried about your browsing privacy, that’s the way to go. However, make sure you can answer the question “which caches can I delete Mac?” before you go into it. Deleting some system cache can be harmful unless you use a professional tool such as CleanMyMac X. 

Will clearing cache affect anything?

It’s not recommended to delete cache folders via Finder or use macOS clear cache Terminal commands unless you’re a power user and know what you’re doing. Generally, you should clear cache only when you run low on disk space or notice some serious performance issues.

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