How to Clear the Cache in IE11

Temporary internet files can take up lots of unnecessary space

The temporary internet files in Internet Explorer 11, sometimes called the cache, are 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. When troubleshooting a problem, delete temporary internet files when a web page doesn't load, and you're confident that the site works for others.

Deleting the temporary files stored by IE is not the same as removing Windows tmp files. That procedure is appropriate for deleting data left over by programs not specific to IE, like third-party installers.

These steps are for clearing the cache in Internet Explorer 11. Learn how to clear the cache in other browsers if you use Chrome, Edge, or Firefox.

Clear the Cache in Internet Explorer 11

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

  1. Open Internet Explorer 11.

  2. On the right side of the browser, select the gear icon, and choose Safety > Delete browsing history.

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

    Delete browsing history menu item for Internet Explorer
  3. Uncheck all options except the one labeled Temporary Internet files and website files.

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

  5. The Delete Browsing History window closes, and the mouse icon changes to the wait cursor for a few moments. When cursor returns to normal, or the Finished deleting message displays at the bottom of the screen, the temporary internet files are deleted.

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. However, it's best to run the latest version of IE if you can.
  • Avoid clearing the cache in IE manually by using a program that does it for you. One popular system cleaner is CCleaner. Make sure the Temporary Internet Files option is chosen under the Internet Explorer area of the Custom Clean 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 3.
  • 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, Internet Explorer stores temporary internet files in this folder, but you can change the location.

Why IE Stores Temporary Internet Files

It might seem strange for the browser to hold this content for storing it offline. Since it takes up disk space, and it's a common practice to remove these temporary files, you might wonder why Internet Explorer even uses them.

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.