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How to Hard Refresh Your Web Browser (to Bypass Your Cache)

A generic browser reload arrow

Sometimes, a website does not behave as expected or seems stuck showing outdated information. To fix this, it’s easy to force your browser to completely reload its local copy of the page (cache) using a simple keyboard shortcut. Here’s how to do it.

What Is a Browser Cache?

To speed up browsing, web browsers save copies of website data to your computer as a set of files called a cache. When you load a website, you are often viewing a local copy of elements from the site (such as images) pulled from your cache.

Normally, if the browser loads a website and detects a change, it will fetch a new version of the site from the remote web server and replace the cache. But the process is not perfect, and sometimes your browser may end up with a local copy of the website data in your browser cache that doesn’t match the latest version on the server. As a result, a web page may look incorrect or not function properly.

To fix this, we need to force the web browser to discard what it already has in the cache and to download the latest version of the site. Many people call this a “hard refresh.”

How to Perform a Hard Refresh in Your Browser

In most browsers on PC and Mac, you can perform a simple action to force a hard refresh. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on the reload icon on your browser’s toolbar.

Browser reload button in Google Chrome on Windows 10

There are also keyboard shortcuts to perform the equivalent hard refresh. Because there are multiple ways to do the same action, they will be listed below:

  • Chrome, Firefox, or Edge for Windows: Press Ctrl+F5 (If that doesn’t work, try Shift+F5 or Ctrl+Shift+R).
  • Chrome or Firefox for Mac: Press Shift+Command+R.
  • Safari for Mac: There is no simple keyboard shortcut to force a hard refresh. Instead, press Command+Option+E to empty the cache, then hold down Shift and click Reload in the toolbar.
  • Safari for iPhone and iPad: There is no shortcut to force a cache refresh. You’ll have to dig into settings to erase your browser’s cache.

After you perform the hard refresh, you should see the web page go blank, and the reloading process will take longer than usual. That’s because the browser is redownloading all of the data and images on the site.

If forcing a refresh didn’t fix the issue, you can try to do a hard refresh again. If that doesn’t help, the issue may be with the website itself—or your browser may need an update. Good luck!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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