How to clear the cache on an iPhone

The iPhone’s storage isn’t infinite. You may reach a point where apps won’t install, the camera won’t take a selfie, and songs won’t download. On top of that, the device may crawl to a snail’s pace because it has no room to carry out everyday tasks. One way to regain space and performance is by deleting the cache.

In a nutshell, cache is data stored locally by the operating system and apps. It’s where webpages, game saves, in-app downloads, and more reside. It’s also where iOS stores temporary information when writing files or when it needs a scratchpad. All this data takes up space, which in turn can limit your downloads and the phone’s performance.

This guide shows you how to clear the cache on an iPhone starting with Safari. We also list how to clear out the cache in third-party apps like Chrome, and what to do if there are no built-in cache-clearing controls.

Keep in mind, however, that deleting an app’s cache removes the associated data. In many cases, your apps need this data to function properly, or to at least remember your preferences, settings, and any files you’ve saved to them. As such, before you clear the cache for any iPhone app, consider whether or not you may actually need its data.

How to clear your cache on an iPhone: Safari

First, you can free up storage and help improve the iPhone’s performance by clearing Safari’s cache. Here’s how:

Step 1: Tap to open Settings

Step 2: Scroll down and tap Safari. It’s listed with Apple’s other first-party apps.

Step 3: Tap Clear History and Website Data.

Step 4: Tap Clear History and Data.

Step 5: Tap Clear History and Data again on the slide-up prompt.

Step 6: While still on the Safari panel, scroll down and tap Advanced.

Step 7: Tap Website Data.

Look to the top of the list and you’ll see the amount of website data Safari stores on your device. In our example, it’s a hefty 1.8GB!

Step 8: Here you have two choices: Tap Remove All Website Data or tap Edit followed by the red minus button next to each website you want to clear. If you chose the edit route, tap Done when complete.

Remember, this will get rid of website data, browsing history, and website cookies. If you want to preserve any of these, consider deleting your cache for third-party apps instead, as described below.

How to clear your cache on an iPhone: Third-party apps

Along with Safari, you can clear cached data for other native and third-party apps. One method is to open the app and delete its contents from within. For example, if you downloaded files within OneDrive or Dropbox for offline use, you can remove the local files from your iPhone without deleting them from the cloud. Other apps have built-in tools as shown below.

Use the app’s built-in tool

Spree App Clear Cache

In this example, we use Spree:

Step 1: Tap to open Settings.

Step 2: Tap Spree.

Step 3: Tap the toggle next to Clear Cache.

Another example is Chrome. You can delete its cache by following these steps:

Step 1: Tap to open Chrome.

Step 2: Tap the three-dot icon located in the bottom right corner.

Step 3: Tap Settings on the pop-up menu.

Step 4: Tap Privacy.

Step 5: Tap Clear Browsing Data.

Step 6: Tap Clear Browsing Data again located at the bottom.

Delete and reinstall

Another method is to remove the app altogether and reinstall it from the App Store. Here’s how:

Step 1: Tap to open Settings.

Step 2: Tap General.

Step 3: Tap iPhone Storage.

Step 4: Tap on an app you want to clear.

Step 5: Tap Delete App. Do not select Offload App, as this keeps the data you’re trying to delete.

Step 6: Tap Delete App again in the slide-up prompt.

Step 7: Reinstall the app from the App Store.

Step 8: Repeat these steps for all apps that have outrageous sizes.

Temporary files and third-party cleaners apps

Here are additional ways to clear your iPhone’s cache and free up some much-needed storage space.

Restart your iPhone

All operating systems create temporary files on their parent devices. These files are typically made to transfer data to a permanent file. They’re also created when memory can’t be allocated for a task and the OS turns to the local storage to use it as a scratchpad.

To remove these files, restart your iPhone. On the iPhone X and newer, press and hold the Volume Down and Sleep/Wake buttons, then swipe to the right when the Slide to Power Off slider appears. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button to turn the phone back on.

If you’re using a new iPhone SE or an iPhone 8 or older, you can shut off your iPhone by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until the slider appears.

Restarting will clear up system memory so there’s room for the processor and OS to handle tasks. This also deletes all temporary files and other short-term data used by your apps.

Use a third-party app

Another way to clear out your cache is by using a third-party app that is specifically designed to optimize your iPhone. As always, it’s usually wisest to use Apple-based apps for Apple products, so be wary when using a third-party cleaner and remember that you’re putting your phone at risk when doing so. 

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