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

Storage settings that provide options to clear Facebook storage or cache

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

If your smartphone or tablet is running slow, you can take the usual steps to prevent and often fix it. A simple restart of the device can fix many problems.

Another common way to increase performance or at least free up extra storage space on your Android phone is to clear app cache. and clear data stored in Chrome’s cache about the websites you visit.

Below I will walk you through both processes, which don’t take very long at all. The hard part is figuring out where to look, and that’s exactly what I’m going to show you.

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

How to clear app cache

The fastest way to see all the apps installed on your Android phone or tablet is to open the Settings app and look at the main list Storage; touch it. On the next screen, find and tap Applications option. Some phones, such as the Moto G 5G, skip the Storage option and list apps directly in the Settings app. If you can’t find the list of apps, use the search bar at the top of the Settings app to find it.

While viewing the list of apps, to make it easier to see which apps are taking up the most space on your device, tap the three-dot icon in the top right corner and select Sort by size.

Android storage and app storage pages showing apps sorted by size

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Select any app from the list. Note that I said to choose an app instead of a system service like Android System Intelligence because I’ve had mixed results when clearing the cache of a system app or service. So I recommend doing this only for apps.

When you open the app, you can see the size of the app, user data, cache size, and the total amount of storage it takes up. There are two options at the top of the page: Clear Storage and Clear Cache.

Don’t select the Clear Storage option because that will more or less reset the app and you’ll have to set it up again. However, you can clear the cache without any negative consequences.

Clearing Facebook cache

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Continue scrolling through the list looking at the apps that are taking up a lot of space and clear the cache for each one. Or, if you really want to be thorough, you can view and clear the cache of every app on your phone. But I recommend starting with the main culprits like the Facebook app seen here in the screenshots.

How to clear Chrome cache

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

Browsing data is being deleted in Chrome

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The next screen will show you a list of options; you can choose which data you want to remove from Chrome and choose the period of time you want to remove the data. 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 log you out of some (in my experience, all) sites. Deleting cached images and files can cause Chrome to have to load images from a site you visit frequently the next time.

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Pick and choose which data you want to delete and the time, and tap the “Clear Data” button at the bottom of the screen.


What is cached data?

When you clear the cache, whether it’s for an app or for Chrome, you’re simply removing various files and information that the app has downloaded. Cached data for an app like Facebook can include profile photos, images, videos, and similar content, where your phone stores it to speed up your timeline scrolling.

In short, while files and data contribute to the overall experience, they are not essential and can often become bloated by taking up too much space.

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

It depends! If you see a lot of performance issues, this should be on your list of troubleshooting steps. Otherwise maybe every quarter or twice a year? It really just depends on how well your phone or tablet works.

Do I gain storage space just by clearing the cache?

No. In fact, one of the first troubleshooting steps I do when I encounter any strange errors or problems in 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 this problem. It’s a win-win.


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