How to Clear the Cache in IE11

Ctrl+Shift+Del is the shortcut to delete temp internet files and free up space

What to Know

  • Select IE's gear icon, and then go to Safety > Delete browsing history.
  • Or, press Ctrl+Shift+Del to open the same window.
  • Then, uncheck all options except Temporary Internet files and website files. Select Delete.

This article explains how to clear temporary internet files, or the cache, in Internet Explorer 11. Learn how to clear the cache in other browsers if you use Chrome, Edge, or Firefox.

How to Clear the Cache in Internet Explorer 11

The cache includes copies of the text, images, videos, and other data from recently viewed websites that are stored on your hard drive. These temporary files remain on the computer until they expire, the cache becomes full, or you remove them manually.

  1. Locate the gear icon from the right side of the browser, and choose Safety > Delete browsing history.

    Delete browsing history menu item for Internet Explorer

    If you see the menu bar, select Tools > Delete browsing history. Or, press Ctrl+Shift+Del on the keyboard.

  2. Uncheck all options except the one labeled Temporary Internet files and website files.

    Temporary Internet files and website files checkbox for Internet Explorer
  3. Select Delete at the bottom of the window.

    That window closes, and the mouse icon changes to the wait cursor for a few moments. When the cursor returns to normal or the success message displays at the bottom of the screen, the temporary internet files are deleted.

Deleting temporary internet files is safe and won't remove other things like cookies, passwords, or other stored data.

Tips for Clearing the Internet Explorer Cache

Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Older Internet Explorer versions, like IE10, IE9, and IE8, have similar procedures for clearing the cache.
  • Avoid clearing the cache in IE manually by using a program that does it for you. One popular system cleaner is CCleaner. Make sure Temporary Internet Files is chosen under the Internet Explorer area of the Custom Clean > Windows section.
  • If you want to delete other Internet Explorer data like cookies, browsing or download history, form data, or passwords, put a check in the box next to that option while in Step 2.
  • IE's temporary internet files settings can be changed through Internet Options. Enter the inetcpl.cpl command in the Run dialog box (WIN+R) and then go to General > Settings to find the Website Data Settings window.
  • Go to Internet Options to choose the maximum size of the cache. You can also force IE to check for new website data and avoid the cache every time you visit the page, every time you use IE, automatically (the default option), or never.
  • By default, IE stores temporary internet files in this folder, but you can change the location.

Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer and recommends that you update to the newer Edge browser. Head to their site to download the newest version. Of course, there are other web browsers you could use instead.

Why IE Stores Temporary Internet Files

The idea behind temporary internet files is that you can access the same content again without loading it from the website. If the content is stored on your computer, the browser can pull up that data instead of downloading it again, which saves bandwidth and page loading times.

What ends up happening is that only the new content from the page downloads, while the rest that's been unchanged is pulled from the hard drive.

Besides better performance, temporary internet files are used by some agencies to collect forensic evidence of someone's browsing activities. If the content remains on the hard drive (that is, if it hasn't been cleared away), the data can be used as evidence that someone accessed a particular website.

This procedure isn't the same as removing Windows tmp files, which is appropriate for deleting data left over by programs not specific to IE, like third-party installers.

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