Have you ever encountered browser issues on your device but don’t know where the real problem lies? Even if you haven’t changed network settings, your Safari or any other browser may suddenly stop working as expected on your Mac.
Most browser-related problems on Mac are a result of cache accumulation. By default, the browser you’re using on Mac creates a cached version of the content you view on the web.
While it does make your life easier most of the time, it can become pretty troublesome when cache piles up.
So, what’s the solution? If you’re tired of bad browsing experiences, we’ll show you how to turn off the cache in Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on your Mac. But first, let’s explore all you need to know about browser cache.
What is browser cache?
Cache in computing refers to a temporary high-speed storage layer that stores a subset of data to ensure you efficiently reuse it. Its main purpose is to increase data retrieval speeds and performance by reducing the need to access the underlying slower storage layer.
For Mac users, part of your ‘Other’ storage consists of files in your system, browser, and application cache. And in most cases, this cache—both the system and application cache—makes your Mac run faster.
This cache memory is a buffer between your Mac’s CPU and the primary memory. But if it grows too large, performance will suffer, and you may occasionally experience errors and application crashes.
Advantages of cache memory on your Mac
Stored cache files generally enhance your Mac’s performance. Usually, deleting such cached files and data while an open application is in use may likely slow things down. Some of the key advantages of cache memory include:
- Cache data is crucial for your browsing experience as it’s much faster than primary and secondary memory
- Cache stores the data and instructions for a limited time. This data and instructions are frequently used on your Mac’s CPU, likely increasing performance.
Disadvantages of cache memory
Cache is good for your device performance, but your Mac browser, system, and app caches should be kept from accumulating over time. Your Mac gets clogged with junk files that take up valuable storage space and slow you down.
Disabling Mac cache
There are many reasons you may want to disable cache on your Mac. The most probable one is because you’re running out of space and assume disabling or clearing the cache can recover a few gigabytes.
While this won’t guarantee enormous storage space, it’ll save you time from refreshing to see the latest changes on a web page. Let’s look at how to disable cache in your Mac’s Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers.
How to disable cache in the Safari browser
Safari used to have a ‘Disable Caches’ option on the Developer menu, but it’s no longer available. It was useful when developing not to cache the response from web servers. The disable cache option is now available in the Web Inspector tool.
So, next time you don’t have a third-party tool, turn to the browser’s web inspection tool to keep the cache disabled. Here are the simple steps you should follow:
- Launch Safari and go to the Develop Menu
- Select the Connect Web Inspector option
- Go to the Network tab and disable the Use the resource cache when loading the resources button.
- This button is in the right corner and looks like a block. It will turn blue upon disabling.
- Once done, ensure the Web Inspector remains open to stop Safari from using the cache.
How to disable cache in Chrome
Permanently disabling the Mac’s Chrome browser cache is similar to how you do it in Safari. If you don’t want your cache to fill up again after you’ve cleared it out, follow the same process as shared below to turn it off.
- Launch Chrome on Mac and click on the three dots next to the URL bar
- Select More Tools
- Click on Developer tools
- Once on the Developer Tools window, click on Network
- Go ahead and disable the cache by checking the Disable cache box.
A notice will appear in the window reminding you that you must keep the Developer Tools window open to keep the cache disabled. Remember that disabling the Chrome cache will affect every web page you browse.
Another option is to use a dedicated classic cache killer Chrome extension to disable cache on Mac. When you enable this extension, all the accumulated cache will be automatically deleted before loading a new page.
Just click the extension button in the Chrome web store to enable the Classic cache killer. You can easily enable/disable it with a single click. However, keep it disabled when unnecessary because removing the cache before loading every page can slow browsing.
How to disable cache in Firefox
Unlike Safari and Chrome, disabling cache in Firefox on Mac doesn’t require you to keep the Developer Tools window open. There are two ways to do it:
- Turn off the cache using the preferences option
- Take advantage of the Firefox addon.
Turn off the cache using preferences
With the preferences route, there are two entries one should focus on disabling first. This helps stop local storage of cache.
- You’ll begin by entering about config in the Firefox address bar
- Wait until you get a warning message, which you’ll accept, and move on to the next step
- In the search bar, copy/paste browser.cache.disk.enable, and browser.cache.memory.enable
- Wait and turn the value to False.
Restart Firefox after this process to stop it from using cache. Each of the preferences copied in the search bar has its specific function. The first one prevents Firefox from storing cache on the hard disk.
The second preference stops the browser from storing cache on the device memory, effectively disabling the cache on your Mac.
Why disable cache on Mac?
The cache can significantly speed up your browsing, but there are valid reasons to disable it on your device completely:
- Development and testing: As a web developer, you need to see the most recent changes you’ve made to a website. Disabling the cache ensures you see the latest version and avoid associated caching problems.
- Troubleshooting: Sometimes, cached content can cause issues with website functionality. By turning off the cache, you can rule out this possibility.
- Security Concerns: Outdated cached content might contain vulnerabilities that have been fixed in newer versions. Disabling the cache helps ensure a safer browsing experience.
The pros and cons
Now that you know how to turn off cache on your Mac across different browsers, what are the key advantages and disadvantages of doing so? First, weighing each benefit against potential drawbacks is always advisable before deciding.
- Real-time content reflection
One of the primary benefits of disabling cache is that you’ll always see the most current version of a website. This helps web developers and designers who need to verify changes they’ve implemented without the interference of cached elements.
- Accurate troubleshooting
Disabling the cache can assist in diagnosing website issues. When troubleshooting, you won’t need to second-guess whether the problem stems from cached data causing conflicts. This streamlines the debugging process and ensures accurate problem identification.
- Enhanced security
Cached content, especially on outdated websites, might pose security risks due to unpatched vulnerabilities. Disabling the cache reduces the chances of encountering such threats, providing a safer browsing environment.
- Slower page loading
The most apparent downside of disabling cache is the potential for slower page loading times. Cached elements contribute significantly to the swiftness of a site’s appearance—without them, you may experience slightly longer load times.
- Reduced user experience
Caching enhances the user experience by delivering faster load times for frequently visited sites. Turning off the cache might compromise this swift experience and potentially deter users from returning to your favorite sites.
- Limited offline access
Cached content enables limited offline access to websites you’ve previously visited. Disabling the cache might make it more challenging to revisit sites when you’re not connected to the internet.
Finding the right balance
The decision to disable the cache on your Mac depends on your needs and priorities. If you’re a developer or tester aiming for accuracy, turning off the cache during your work sessions can be invaluable.
On the other hand, if you’re a casual internet user concerned about security, you might disable cache selectively for specific browsing sessions.
Disabling your Mac’s cache has pros and cons; the choice ultimately depends on your specific requirements. To be safe, find the perfect balance between cache and freshness and tailor your browsing experience to your needs.