There are a handful of situations when clearing Safari's cookies or cache - one of the places where Safari stores website data to avoid having to download it afresh each time you access a site - can help improve your browsing experience.
The first is when sites simply stop working when you access them on Safari. Perhaps Facebook stops updating with new posts, for example, or the images on a site don't appear as they should. If this happens, it's likely the cache has become corrupted.
Alternatively, if you find that personal info automatically completed on sites isn't correct, deleting cookies can help. These are small files that sites use to save data about you and what you do on the site.
Even if none of these problems affect you, periodically cleaning browser data can help protect your privacy from snoops who want to discover what you've been up to online. In this article, therefore, we explain how to clear Safari's cache and cookies on Mac.
Clear cookies and cache for individual sites
- Preferences > Privacy > Manage Website Data...
Cleaning cookies and the cache data for individual sites can be done by opening the Preferences dialog box in the Safari tab in the top-left, then selecting the Privacy icon and clicking the 'Manage Website Data...' button.
You can then prune the list manually by selecting an individual site and clicking the Remove button, or delete all cookies and cache by clicking the Remove All button. There's a search field you can use to track down individual sites.
Bear in mind that deleting cookies might remove autocompleted login usernames and passwords for sites, and will almost certainly log you out of that site if you've configured it to automatically log in each time you visit.
Clean the Safari cache
- Preferences > Privacy > Advanced > Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar
The hidden Safari Developer menu can be used to clear just the cache, leaving cookies and the browser history in place. This is a very useful diagnostic step to take before removing those two items if a website behaves badly.
The Developer menu can be activated by selecting Safari > Preferences, clicking the Advanced icon, then putting a tick alongside Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar. (This option is right at the bottom.)
A new Develop menu option appears to the left of the Window and Help menu options. Close any open Safari windows and select Empty Caches on the Develop menu. Then click File > New Window to start Safari with a clean cache.
Remove autocomplete data from AutoFill
- Preferences > AutoFill
Safari's AutoFill tool, accessible by opening Preferences and clicking the AutoFill icon, sometimes overrides cookies and fills in username and password details on websites. AutoFill might also autocomplete some other information on the site.
To delete any errant data, click the Edit button alongside whichever data type you'd like to remove. The two most useful are 'User names and passwords' and 'Other forms'. In the dialog box that appears once you've clicked Edit, select the site in the list and click the Remove button.
Delete just site logins
- Preferences > Passwords
If you've entered the wrong username or password for a site, and Safari subsequently keeps autocompleting it, clicking the Passwords icon within the Safari's Preferences dialog box lets you find it and delete it. Just select the site, then click Remove.
Rather usefully, you can then recreate the entry for the site by clicking the Add button. You'll first need to provide the URL of the site (that is, something like https://facebook.com), and then type the username and password alongside (hit the Tab key to move from field to field).
Delete logins and passwords system-wide
- Utilities > Keychain Access
Pruning site logins can also be done via the Keychain Access app, which you'll find in the Utilities folder of the Applications list in Finder, although you should be very careful using this app because it pretty much controls the entire security operation of your Mac! However, by removing errant username and password entries here you'll stop virtually all of your Mac apps using them, and not just Safari.
Just type the name of the site into the Search field, and look in the list of results for entries of the kind Web Form Password. Right-click the entry and select Delete.
Similar privacy benefits can be gleaned by deleting your Mac browsing history. And if you want to optimise your Safari experience even more, check out our best Safari tips for Mac, and our favourite Safari extensions and plugins.