Have you noticed your Mac acting a bit sluggish lately? Programs launching slowly, webpages taking too long to load? Your device’s caches could be to blame.
Caches are an essential part of how Macs and programs’ function. They store recent data for quick access later on. However, over extended periods, these temporary storage files can accumulate and start to negatively impact performance if not cleaned out periodically.
In this guide, you’ll find out what Mac caches are, why it’s important to delete them and learn a simple step-by-step process to purge these temporary files from your system. By taking just a few minutes to clear out outdated cached data clogging things up, you can help boost your Mac’s speed and get that snappy feeling back.
What Are Mac Caches?
Mac caches are temporary files that your operating system stores to help commonly used information load faster. Every time you visit a website, launch an application, or access files on your Mac, some amount of data gets cached so it’s readily available the next time it’s needed without having to reload from scratch.
There are different types of caches on Macs:
A browser cache stores pages you visit along with images, scripts, and other site assets so web pages load quicker upon return visits.
An application cache holds plugins, settings preferences, and temporary files generated while programs are running. This allows apps to start up faster later on.
A system cache is a temporary file stored by macOS that helps to optimize OS performance over time. As you browse the web, edit documents, or switch between apps, certain components and assets tend to be used frequently. Rather than re-loading these each time, macOS stores cached copies in the~/Library/Caches folder for quicker access.
See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache_(computing) for more information on types of cache.
Why Delete Mac Caches?
While caches help to improve the speed of common operations, failing to clear them out periodically can slow your Mac down. As they accumulate over weeks and months, they begin to outweigh the performance benefits. Here are a few key reasons it’s important to purge your Mac’s caches:
Free Up Valuable Storage Space
Cache files, especially in your browser storage, consume storage space at a rapid rate. A typical cache could balloon to over a gigabyte in size within a year if never cleared out. Since SSD and HDD storage capacities are finite, it’s important to delete unnecessary temporarily stored data to avoid filling up your drive. Clearing them periodically reclaims dozens or even hundreds of gigabytes of space over time.
Improve Application and Website Load Times
The more files a cache contains, the longer it takes for your Mac to locate the specific ones needed. Sorting through tens of thousands of cached items creates lag. Once you let your Mac delete cache, necessary information can be found and accessed much quicker. This results in faster load times for commonly used apps and sites.
Boost Overall System Responsiveness
Extra unused cached data adds unnecessary process handling overhead. It takes processing power to maintain long lists of files that aren’t actively being used. By removing filler files, you lighten the load on your CPU and RAM so they can focus on optimizing performance where it matters most to your workflow.
Remove Outdated Browser Plugins and Settings
Web caches hold onto old browser extensions and preferences even after you’ve uninstalled or updated plugins. Deleting these forces your browser to fetch the latest recommended versions. This ensures you have the most up-to-date and secure setup each time you open your browser.
How to Delete a Mac Cache
Clearing out your Mac’s unused temporary files is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. Here are the basic steps in more detail:
1. Locate the Caches Folder
The first step is navigating to your Mac’s temporary files’ location. Open Finder, go to Go > Go to Folder, and type “~/Library/Caches”—this will open the hidden Caches folder located in your user Library folder.
2. Select and Delete Cache Files
Once the Caches folder is open, you’ll see a list of numbered subfolders, one for each app and component on your device. Click on the top bar to select everything inside. Then press Command + Delete on your keyboard to empty the trash and remove all cached files at once.
3. Clear Your Browser’s Cache
After deleting your system’s unused temporary files, log in to each browser you use—such as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox—and go to the preferences or settings to locate an option to clear the browser cache. This is usually under “Privacy and Security” or “Advanced.” Emptying the cache here ensures your browser is also cleared of outdated files.
As an optional extra step for thorough deletion, you can restart your Mac after clearing caches. This forces freshly loaded data rather than any lingering cached content. A restart also cleans up background processes to wrap up the cache purge cleanly.
Be sure to regularly delete unused temporary files once a month or so using this method to optimize your Mac’s speed and have plenty of free storage space available over time.
Click here to see how often you should reboot your Mac computer and the safest ways to do so.
Deleting unused temporary files in your system’s repository is an easy way to do some periodic maintenance on your Mac and avoid slowdowns. As explained, unused extras on your storage can impact performance over time when not cleaned regularly.
It takes just a few minutes each month to follow these steps and clear your caches. But taking those few minutes can yield big improvements in speed, responsiveness, and storage space. Don’t let your caches drag your Mac down—keep your system bug-free by deleting them periodically as part of your routine device care.