Speed up Safari by emptying the cache

Speed up Safari by emptying the cache
Mac Tip #426, 03 March 2010

As you surf the web your browser makes copies of the pages you visit, in case you need them again. This can cause things to slow down though. Here’s how to do a clean up.



Safari saves web pages in a cache

The software you use to look at web pages is a web browser. You probably use Apple’s browser called Safari, though you may also or instead use Firefox, Google Chrome, Omniweb, Opera, Camino, or any one of several others.

As you surf around the web browser secretly saves copies of web pages you visit in the cache.

The reasoning behind this is that you may want to visit that same page again. It can quicker to call up the page from the cache on your hard drive than it is to go all the way out onto the Internet to get a fresh copy. And after all, many web pages don’t change much from one minute, day, hour or week to the next.

My cache is 180Mb!

My cache is 180Mb!

If your web browser notices you visiting a page you’ve already seen before it first checks the cache. This can be a quick check if the cache is small, but over time the cache can grow big enough that checking it takes longer than getting a fresh copy of a page from over the Internet.

To see how big Safari’s cache is, look on your hard drive in your Home folder under: Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari/Cache.db.

When I checked mine, as the top part of the screenshot shows, it was 180Mb. That’s big.

After emptying the cache (see the lower part of the screenshot) it was 25Kb — tiny.

Empty the Safari cache

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

To empty Safari’s cache:

  1. Open Safari. I’m using Version 4.0.4 (6531.21.10), but the following should be the same for other versions.
  2. Choose Empty Cache… from the Safari menu. An alert appears, asking you to confirm your choice.
  3. Click the Empty button on the alert window. The cache is emptied.

You may like to Quit and restart Safari, but just emptying the cache should have done the trick.

You should now find that Safari works quicker again.

Tip for web developers

If you’re a web developer, take a look at the images in the Webpage Previews folder — it’s also in Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari/.

In Snow Leopard Safari has a Top Sites feature that displays thumbnails of websites. This folder seems to be where it keeps them. It’s a very handy source of (partial) screenshots.

Did you try this Tip? Tell us in the Comments what happened for you.

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  1. Charlotte said:

    Have just discovered Mactips – GREAT!!!

  2. Tim at IMM said:

    Good tips. If emptying the cache doesn’t work you might also want to choose Reset Safari from the Safari menu…but watch out! It will cause Safari to forget almost everything, depending on what options you have checked. Also make sure there aren’t any windows open in Safari that you still want to check out, as it will close everything!

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