Tony’s Tech Tips – Browser Caches

by Tony Gamble

Tony's Tech Tips LogoYou know Jester for being the go-to people when it comes to creating great content and presenting it in ways that deliver maximum impact. But what happens when that pricey piece of technology that you’re using to build that content actually stands in your way. Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux… no matter what operating system you’re using, there will always come a time when something just doesn’t work the way you expect. Or it doesn’t work at all. What do you do then? Well that’s where I come in.

For many years, I’ve been the guy that friends, family and associates have turned to in desperation when their PC, Mac or other whizzy gizmo doesn’t work the way they expect it to. As lead digital media developer and general, all-around tech guy here at Jester Creative Inc., it behooves me to pass along tips, tricks and fixes to our readers.

Today’s lesson seeks to answer a question I get a lot from frustrated users who sometimes find that a change they’ve made to their content doesn’t appear to update in their browser. It almost always comes down to caching. You see, in order to deliver content faster, your Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, saves the bits and pieces of a webpage in a temporary file on your computer’s hard drive. This is called the cache. In the days of dialup Internet access (which is still a reality for 3% of Canadians), this technology was imperative. With the double-digit megabit-per-second speeds of most broadband services, the cache may seem unnecessary, but as bandwidth speeds go up, so do the number of content-rich websites delivering more and more regularly changing photos and videos. When you’re changing the content on your own site, how do you know you’re seeing the latest version?

The Browser Wars of the 90’s are far from over, and for every browser out there you’ll find a completely different path to emptying that cache file so that it loads the most recent version of a page. Here, then, are the instructions for four of the current most popular desktop browsers on Windows 7/8 and Mac OS X.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer MenusClick on the cog wheel icon near the top right corner of the browser window, right next to the Favorites star icon, and select Internet Options. In the window that pops up, under the General tab look for the section labeled Browsing History and click the Delete button. Again, a new window will pop up giving you access to a series of check boxes. In this case, the cache is labeled as Temporary Internet files and website files. You can also opt to delete other data, such as browsing history, form data and passwords. When you’ve selected all that you wish to purge, click the Delete button at the bottom of the window.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome ScreenshotOn Windows, click the 3-line sandwich icon near the top right corner of the browsers window (call it what you will; that’s my name for it). Select History from the menu, then click the Clear browsing data… button at the top of the new window. You will given the opportunity to Obliterate the following items from a date range, from the past hour to the beginning of time. A list of checkboxes permit you to limit what you clear, including Empty the cache.

On the Mac, the process is the same, except that you can go directly to the Clear browsing data popup from the Chrome menu in the Finder bar at the top of your screen.

Firefox

Firefox Mac ScreenshotOn Windows, click the Firefox button in the top left corner of the browser window, move your mouse to Options and then select the additional Options menu to the right of that. Click the “mask on a stick” Privacy icon. Within the History section, click the phrase clear your recent history. The resulting popup window gives you the option of erasing only a specified time range, from the Last Hour to Everything. Click the arrow button beside Details to extend the window with a shortlist of additional checkboxes, one of which is Cache. When you’ve selected all that you want to clear, click the Clear Now button.

On the Mac, click on the Tools menu and select Clear Recent History. The rest is the same as before, just fewer steps to get there than on Windows.

Safari

Safari ScreenshotThese instructions are for the Mac only, because Apple ceased building a version for Windows quite some time ago. Simply click on Safari in the Finder Bar at the top of your screen, then select Reset Safari. The popup window gives you much the same list of checkboxes offered by the other browsers. When you’ve selected what you want to clear (for only the cache, check the box for Remove all website data), click the Reset button.

Of course, browsers, like most software, are continually evolving. Each time a new major release is launched, there is always the possibility that the path to clearing your cache will change.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered in a future post, leave a comment below, or drop me a line at tony@jestercreative.com or on Twitter @trinzitter.

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