Have you seen the word cache on your Mac but aren’t sure what it means? Let’s find out how caches work as well as how to clear them.
At some point, while working on your Mac computer or while troubleshooting a problem, you have probably seen the word cache. You may have also seen it regarding your browsing history. Despite the common use of the word in the computer world, many people are unsure what a cache is or even how to pronounce it. It is pronounced “cash,” by the way.
If you are trying to clear your browsing history or fix something, your Mac may ask you to clear the caches. You may be hesitant to do this if you’re unsure what a cache is or how it may affect the computer. Let’s review what it is and how clearing it can help the functionality of your computer.
What exactly is a cache?
A cache is part of the storage system on your Mac. It takes data and then simplifies it and uses it to help your websites and browsers work faster. They are found on various technology devices such as computers, phones, desktops, and apps. They are instrumental in helping apps on your Mac load quicker.
A cache will keep all the data it has downloaded locally to re-download it every time you use an app or browser. By retrieving data and storing it for later, it can greatly decrease the loading time of websites and apps.
How do caches benefit me?
Caches can increase the quality of your Mac’s speed and your ability to work and stream from your Mac devices. The main way this is done is by storing previous data for later use. This can increase battery life and decrease downloading time. Apps may still need to download new files, but this is much faster with the basic files already stored.
A cache can also allow you to use certain apps or features of apps when you are offline. An app can use data that has already been cached to help you when you do not have a reliable internet connection. This is evident when you are using Google Maps.
Google Maps can download maps of certain cities or parts of town and then be used when you are offline. This is a perfect example of an app using caches.
By only needing to download certain files once, caches save you time and data. Each time you subsequently visit a website, your Mac will only have to retrieve the new information.
Are there any downsides to caches?
Yes, there are a few, but only when a problem arises. While caches usually allow an app to download the newest version of a file automatically, sometimes the old caches can interfere with this process. If your app needs a new update or version, old caches may need to be cleared or deleted first.
Apps can crash or be displayed oddly if an old cache gets corrupted or messed up somehow. Certain files can start to go bad and therefore, a complete clearing will be needed. Clearing the caches on your Mac can help your apps update and be used more efficiently.
Caches can also take up a good portion of memory space on your Mac. Clearing them when you are experiencing problems could help your Mac’s software work faster and better. Over time, caches can grow too large. Clearing caches will also get rid of any caches you no longer use and need.
What does clearing my cache do?
After reading the few downsides of caches, you may be wanting to clear them to see if they improve the responsiveness of your Mac. This should be done periodically as regular maintenance or when you see your Mac is slower than normal.
Clearing the cache will delete all the files. For instructions on how to clear your Safari browser on your Mac, check out this original post. This should help you clear all the caches from your Mac and get started new.
Sometimes you may only want to clear certain caches instead of all the ones your computer may have stored. This could benefit you if you know where the corrupted cache is and only want to remove that specific one. You can also remove saved passwords from caches that you may not want to be stored on the computer anymore.
Remember that removing the caches will mean you will have to log in to websites again because there will be no saved information on them. You have to reset passwords if you forgot them or add items to your shopping basket again since this information will be gone.
All in all, clearing the cache is worth the few inconveniences it may cause. It will help your Mac run much faster and take away the headache of waiting on a slow website or app.