When it comes to browser history and privacy, most people would rather peruse the Web incognito than use a platform that tracks their every move. However, your browser cache can be helpful as well as harmful, temporarily storing website components such as images, scripts, and other page snapshots for quicker viewing whenever you revisit the same site down the line.
It’s a convenient way of reducing bandwidth and perceived lag, along with load times, but it’s also a computing mechanism that can leave you in the stone age in terms of up-to-date viewing. Therefore, nearly every browser features quick-hit tools for clearing the cache — if you can find them, that is.
Doing so may not be completely necessary, nor need to be done often. However, there are several reasons clearing your browser’s cache can prove fruitful. First off, purging the stored data in your cache automatically forces your browser to seek and retrieve the most recent webpage elements instead of recycling the same old components, whether they’re up-to-date with the developer’s standards or not.
Furthermore, resetting your cache will potentially help in the event of 404, 502, and other errors that may potentially result from a corrupt cache, and clear any private data you have stored in the form of login IDs, passwords, and other sensitive information you’d rather not store on your machine. It’s also a simple trick you can employ to shed any unnecessary data, which could slow down your browser. That said, below is our guide to doing so, no matter which browser you use.
Step 1: Open the settings — Launch Google Chrome, click the Chrome menu icon represented by three horizontal bars in the upper-right corner of the browser window, and click Settings near the bottom of the resulting drop-down menu.
Afterward, click the blue Show advanced settings option at the bottom of the page.
This should allow you to see Privacy settings. Click the button that says Clear browsing data…
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Check the box directly left of the Empty the cache option near the middle of the new pop-up window, along with any other browser data you wish to clear, and select the beginning of time option from the drop-down menu indicating how far back you wish to clear your cache. Afterward, click the gray Clear browsing data button in the bottom-right corner and allow the cache to clear.
Step 1: Open settings — Open Mozilla Firefox, click the button with three bars in the upper-right corner of the browser window, and select Options from the resulting drop-down menu.
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Click the Advanced tab located on the right side of the navigation bar and select the Network sub-tab underneath. Afterward, click the button labeled Clear Now under the section labeled Cached Web Content, and click the OK button in the bottom-right corner of the window to proceed.
Step 1: Open settings — Launch Internet Explorer, then click the gear-shaped Tools icon in the upper-right corner of the browser window, and select Internet options from the resulting drop-down menu. This should bring up the General options tab, but if not, click the leftmost tab in the options window to access it.
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Click the gray Delete … button within the Browsing history section near the bottom of the pop-up window, then check the box labeled Temporary Internet files and website files — along with any other browser data you wish to clear — and click the gray Delete button in the bottom-right corner.
Step 1: Open settings — Launch Safari, click Safari in the upper-left corner of the main menu bar, and select the Preferences option near the top of the drop-down menu. Afterward, click the Advanced tab located in the top navigation bar and check the box directly to the left of the Show Develop menu in menu bar option to add the menu to Safari by default.
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Click the Develop menu near the middle of the main Safari menu bar and select the Empty Caches option.
Step 1: Open settings — Launch Opera, click the Menu button in the upper-left corner of the browser window and select the Settings option from the drop-down menu.
Afterward, click the Privacy & security panel located on the left side of the resulting window and click the gray Clear browsing data… button near the top of the Privacy section.
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Check the box labeled Cached images and files, along with any other browser data you wish to clear. Then, select the time frame you want to erase — to completely clear the cache, select the beginning of time — from the drop-down menu. Afterward, click the gray Clear browsing data button in the bottom-right corner.
Step 1: Open settings — Click the button showcasing three dots in the upper-right corner and select Settings from the resulting drop-down menu.
Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Under the heading Clear browser data, click the button labeled Choose what to clear. Doing so will bring up a checklist of things you can clear, including browser history and cookies. To clear your browser cookies, check the box labeled Cached data and files and click the Clear button.
This article was originally published on November 30, 2013, and updated on April 5, 20-16, by Will Nicol to include instructions for Microsoft Edge.