Step-by-Step Guide to Clearing Browser Cache


One of the most frequent comments I hear from clients is that they don’t see the changes I just made to their websites.  Or if we are making a big design change, they still see the old website when they visit their site.

This is almost always a browser issue with your caching settings. Let’s break down the basics.

What is your browser?  

It’s what you use to surf the web.  It’s Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, or Opera.  Those are the major ones.

What is caching or cache?

A cache is a place on your hard disk where the browser keeps things that it downloaded once in case they’re needed again. Web browsers usually cache pages by default. When you visit a website, the browser may cache the code and images referenced on the page. When you visit other pages on the site that use the same code and images your browser will not have to re-download the files. The browser can simply load them from the cache, stored on your hard drive. This makes the page load faster.

But if I’ve made changes (or you have) you often need to refresh your cache to see them. This tells the browser to access the pages again and look for changes and new code and/or images.

Think of this like driving in the rain without using your wipers. You have to clear off your windshield to see the road. You have to clear your cache to see changes made!

How to clear browser cache in major browsers

Clearing the browser cache can resolve many issues that users may encounter while browsing websites, such as loading outdated content or experiencing functionality problems. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clear the cache in various major browsers:

1. Google Chrome

  • Open Chrome Browser.
  • Click on the 3 vertical dots in the upper right corner.
  • Hover over “More tools” and select “Clear browsing data.”
  • Choose the time range as “All time” to clear everything.
  • Check the boxes for “Cookies and other site data” and “Cached images and files.”
  • Click “Clear data.”

2. Mozilla Firefox

  • Open Firefox Browser.
  • Click the 3 horizontal lines in the upper right corner.
  • Select “Options.”
  • Click “Privacy & Security” on the left sidebar.
  • Scroll down to the “Cookies and Site Data” section and click “Clear Data…”.
  • Ensure “Cached Web Content” is selected and click “Clear.”

3. Safari

  • Open Safari Browser.
  • Click “Safari” in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Select “Preferences.”
  • Go to the “Advanced” tab.
  • Enable “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
  • From the “Develop” menu, select “Empty Caches.”

4. Microsoft Edge

  • Open Edge Browser.
  • Click the 3 horizontal dots in the upper right corner.
  • Select “Settings.”
  • Under “Clear browsing data,” click “Choose what to clear.”
  • Ensure “Cached images and files” is selected, and then click “Clear.”

5. Opera

  • Open Opera Browser.
  • Click on the “Easy Setup” button in the top right corner.
  • Scroll down and click on “Clear browsing data…”.
  • Select the time range and the types of data you want to delete.
  • Click “Clear data.”

Identifying browser caching issues

When you are experiencing issues with a website, it can be helpful to identify whether browser caching is the culprit. Here’s how:

Check on a different device

  • Check the website on your mobile phone or another device. If the issue persists, the problem may not be related to browser cache.

Use incognito/private mode

  • Browsers’ incognito or private browsing modes do not use the cached data, so opening the website in this mode can help identify if caching is the issue.
  • If the website works correctly in incognito/private mode, it’s likely that the cache or cookies are causing the issue, and clearing them should resolve it.

Since all websites have a different method for refreshing the cache, I recommend this great link that explains how to do it on all major browsers.

Remember, this is true for your phone and tablet as well!

Cami MacNamara

Owner/Designer at WebCami Site Design. Providing web design services in West Seattle since 2002. Facebook / Twitter / Instagram