How to Refresh on Mac

Learn to refresh web browsers and other apps on macOS

What to Know

  • Pressing Command+R will perform a refresh on most Mac apps.
  • To perform a hard refresh, press Command+Option+R or Shift+Command+R (depends on the browser).
  • Pressing F5 will decrease your keyboard's backlight on Macbook Air and MacBook Pro.

This article teaches you what the F5 key equivalent is on Mac and how to refresh all major browsers, including Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

How Do You Refresh on a Mac?

Pressing F5 is a well-known shortcut for refreshing a web browser, website, or webpage on Windows platforms, but using this shortcut on a Mac produces a different result.

Instead of using F5, Command+R (or cmd+r) is the shortcut you’ll want to use to perform a refresh on Mac platforms. Of course, this applies to the majority of Mac web browsers, too.

If you find that Command+R isn't refreshing a page, it could be due to conflicting shortcuts. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts to make sure the shortcut is assigned correctly.

Sometimes, a standard refresh isn’t enough to fix a web page that isn’t displaying correctly or shows outdated information. In this case, you’ll want to try a hard refresh.

A hard refresh forces the web browser to clear its local copy of the webpage (cache) and download the latest version from the site server. 

To perform a hard refresh, you’ll need to modify the standard Command+R input, but the key combination will be a bit different depending on which browser you use.

  • Safari and Opera: Press Command+Option+R
  • Chrome, Firefox, and Edge: Press Shift+Command+R

You can also perform a hard refresh by holding the Shift key and clicking the refresh button on your browser.

Where Is the Refresh Button on a Mac?

In addition to the cmd+r shortcut, most Mac browsers include a refresh button in their toolbar.

Here’s where you’ll find the refresh button on a selection of Mac browsers:


To the right of the address bar:

Lifewire homepage on Safari with refresh button highlighted

Google Chrome

To the left of the address bar:

Chrome web browser showing Lifewire page with refresh button highlighted


To the left of the address bar and home page icon:

Firefox web browser showing Lifewire website with refresh button highlighted

Microsoft Edge

To the left of the address bar:

Edge browser showing Lifewire websire with refresh button highlighted

What Is the F5 Key on Mac?

Rather than refresh web pages, the F5 key on a Mac typically decreases your keyboard’s brightness (if it’s backlit). You’ll typically only see this on compatible MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. Otherwise, it does nothing.

How Do I Refresh My Mac Desktop?

In addition to browsers, you can use the Command+R shortcut to refresh many Mac apps, such as the Mac App Store. One notable exception is Mac's file system manager (called the Finder), which doesn’t have a direct refresh button. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t use a keyboard shortcut to refresh Finder, which can be annoying if, for example, you just added new files to a folder and Finder isn’t displaying them.

Fortunately, there is a workaround to this issue. You can use the Back button (<-) followed by the Forward button (->) in the top left of the Finder app, which should refresh the contents of a folder. If that doesn’t work, you can use Command+Option+Escape (ESC) to Force Quit the app.

Applications folder in Mac Finder with the back and forward buttons highlighted
  • How do I refresh the email inbox on my Mac?

    How you refresh your email inbox depends on your email client. If you're using Apple Mail, select the Send/Receive button, which looks like a letter, to check for new messages and refresh your inbox. Or, select the Mailbox tab and click Get New Mail. There's also a keyboard shortcut: press Shift + Command + N to refresh your inbox. If you're using Gmail, select the Refresh button just below the Search Mail bar.

  • How do I refresh iMessage on a Mac?

    If you're receiving iMessages on your Mac and notice your messages aren't syncing, there are a few things to try to refresh iMessage. First, try toggling off iMessage on your iPhone and your Mac. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages and toggle off iMessage. On your Mac, open the Messages app, go to Preferences, and then choose your account and sign out. Next, sign back in on both devices and see if this solves the problem. Another troubleshooting step: On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. Under You can receive iMessage to and reply from, make sure you have the correct phone number or email address checked.

  • How do I refresh iPhoto on a Mac?

    To force iPhoto to refresh, try restarting your Mac. Alternatively, quit iPhoto, then type Activity Monitor into Spotlight Search and open Activity Monitor. Search the term photo, then look for an iCloud Photos process. Select the X at the top to quit the process. When you open iPhoto again, the app should refresh the photostream.

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