How to Safely Clear Cached Files on Your Mac
Your Mac, like all computers, accumulates cached files over time. Cache files are temporary data stored by apps, browsers, and the system to speed up processes and tasks. While these files can improve performance, they can also clutter up storage space, leading some users to want to clear them out periodically. This guide will walk you through the steps and precautions to safely clear cached files from your Mac.
Why Clear Cached Files?
Free Up Disk Space: Over time, cache files can consume significant amounts of storage.
Resolve Software Issues: Sometimes, cached data can become corrupted, leading to software or system malfunctions. Clearing them can often solve such issues.
Privacy: Clearing browser caches can remove traces of websites you’ve visited.
However, remember that clearing cache may result in some applications taking slightly longer to load the next time they’re launched, as they have to rebuild their cache files.
How to Safely Clear Cached Files:
Backup Your Data: Before making any significant changes to your system, it’s a good idea to backup all essential files. Use Time Machine or another backup system to ensure you have copies of important data.
From the menu bar, choose ‘Safari’ > ‘Preferences.’
Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab.
Check the ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar’ option.
From the menu bar, click ‘Develop’ and then select ‘Empty Caches.’
Click on the three vertical dots (⋮) on the upper right > ‘More Tools’ > ‘Clear browsing data.’
Choose the time range (to clear everything, select ‘All time’) and check ‘Cached images and files.’
Click ‘Clear data.’
Click on the three horizontal lines on the upper right > ‘Options.’
Go to the ‘Privacy & Security’ tab, scroll down to ‘Cookies and Site Data,’ and click ‘Clear Data.’
Check ‘Cached Web Content’ and click ‘Clear.’
Close any open applications.
From the Finder, select ‘Go’ > ‘Go to Folder’ from the menu bar.
Type in ~/Library/Caches and press ‘Go.’
You’ll see a list of folders from different applications. Go into each folder and delete the files inside, but DO NOT delete the folders themselves.
Remember, don’t remove anything you’re unsure about.
Empty the trash to complete the process.
Similar to the system cache, but the path to type in Finder’s ‘Go to Folder’ is /Library/Caches.
As before, delete the files inside the folders, not the folders themselves.
User Logs and System Logs:
In Finder’s ‘Go to Folder,’ type ~/Library/Logs for user logs and /Library/Logs for system logs.
Delete files or folders that you think take up too much space. As always, if you’re unsure, it’s better to leave it.
iTunes and App Store Cache:
These caches include downloaded music, video, and apps that you may no longer need.
Navigate to ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes and /Library/Caches/com.apple.appstore respectively.
Delete the unnecessary files.
Empty the Trash:
After deleting cache files, ensure you empty the trash to actually free up the space on your Mac.
What Not to Do:
Avoid Third-party Cleaning Apps: While many apps promise to “optimize” or “clean” your Mac, not all of them are trustworthy or effective. Some might delete essential files, causing more harm than good.
Don’t Delete Random Files: If you’re not sure what a file or folder is, better leave it untouched. Deleting system files can disrupt your Mac’s functioning.
Avoid Frequent Cache Cleaning: Cache exists for a reason. Regular clearing might slow down app startups as they need to rebuild their cache. Only clear it when necessary.
Clearing cached files on your Mac can be a great way to reclaim storage space and solve certain software issues. However, it’s crucial to approach the task with caution. Always backup essential files before starting, and if you’re ever in doubt about whether to delete something, it’s best to err on the side of caution. By following this guide, you’ll be able to keep your Mac running smoothly and efficiently.