How to clear the cache on your Android phone or tablet (and why you should)

Storage settings for Facebook giving options to clear storage or clear cache

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

If you’re experiencing slow performance on a smartphone or tablet, there are general steps you can take to troubleshoot and often resolve the issue. Most problems can be taken care of by simply restarting your device.

Another common way to boost performance or at least free up extra storage space on an Android phone is to clear an app’s cached data. And Clear Chrome’s cached data for websites you visit.

Below I’ll walk you through both processes, which don’t take long. The hardest part is figuring out where to look, and that’s what I’m going to show you.

Also: How to record a call on your Android phone

As with any tutorial on how to do something on an Android device, the steps for you may differ slightly from what I describe below due to different device manufacturers and customized software on top of Android. But the gist of the process is covered and this should at least be similar enough to point you in the right direction. (And here’s how to clear cache on iPhone.)

How to clear app cached data

The quickest way to see all the apps installed on your Android phone or tablet is to open the Settings app and view the main list storage; Tap it. Find and tap on the next screen apps option. Some phones, like the Moto G 5G, skip the storage option and list apps directly in the Settings app. If you’re having trouble finding the apps list, use the search bar at the top of the Settings app to find it.

When viewing the apps list, to make it easier to see which apps are using the most storage on your device, tap the three-dot icon in the top-right corner and select Sort by size.

The Android Storage and Apps Storage pages show apps sorted by size

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Select any app from the list. Note that I specified selecting an app and not a system service such as Android System Intelligence, as I’ve had mixed results when clearing the cache of a system app or service. So I recommend doing this for apps only.

When you open an app, you can see the app’s size, user data, cache size, and the total amount of storage it’s taking up. At the top of the page you will have two options: Clear Storage and Clear Cache.

Do not select clear storage as this will more or less reset the app and you will have to set it all up again. However, you can clear the cache without any negative consequences.

Clearing cache for Facebook

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Continue going through the list, look for apps that are taking up a lot of space, and clear the cache of each one. Or, if you want to be really thorough, you can clear the cache of every app on your phone. But I recommend starting with the top offenders, like the Facebook app seen in the screenshot here.

How to clear Chrome’s cache

Open the Chrome app on your Android phone or tablet, then tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper-right corner. Next, select History > Clear browsing data.

Clearing Browsing Data for Chrome Browser

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The following screen will show you a list of options; You can choose which data you want to remove from Chrome and which data you want to remove. Each data option has a brief description of what it means and how it will affect your experience.

For example, clearing cookies and site data will sign you out of some (in my experience, all) websites. Clearing cached images and files can cause Chrome to take a little longer to load images the next time for sites you visit frequently.

Also: How to Clear Opera Browser Cache (and Why You Should)

Pick and choose which data you want to erase and for how long and tap on the “Clear Data” button at the bottom of the screen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cached data?

When you clear cached data, whether it’s for an app or from Chrome, you’re actually removing various files and information downloaded by the app. For an app like Facebook, cached data can be profile photos, pictures, videos, and similar content that the phone saves to speed up scrolling through your timeline.

In other words, while files and data help the overall experience, they aren’t necessary and can often bloat with too much storage.

How often should I clear the cache of my Android device?

It depends! If you see a lot of performance issues, you should do something like this in the list of troubleshooting steps. Otherwise, maybe every quarter, or twice a year? It really depends on how powerful your phone or tablet is.

Am I gaining storage space by just clearing the cache?

No. In fact, one of the first troubleshooting steps I follow when I encounter any strange bugs or issues with an app is to clear the cache. Often, the files in the cache are corrupted or out of date, and forcing the app to rebuild the cache fixes that problem. It’s a win-win.


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