How to Clear Your Android Phone’s App Cache

You may have heard this term ‘cache’, and may even have mispronounced it as ‘cash-ay’ (cache) when in fact it is pronounced as ‘cash’. Both words share a common French root – the verb “cacher”, which means “to hide”, but the first means “a group on things which are hidden”, while the second refers to “prestige”, “prepared medicine so that it can be swallowed” or “an official seal”. Today we’re going to focus on the idea of ​​an Android app’s “cache”, obviously, rather than the other word, and I’m going to even show you how and when to clear an app’s cache.

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Hidden and stamp share a common French root – the verb hide (“to hide”), which is pronounced cash-AY – but they are pronounced differently and mean two different things.

Hidden means “a group of hidden things” and entered English in the 1700s. It can also mean cache memory, or “a part of a computer’s memory where information is kept so that the computer can find it very quickly”. This word is pronounced CASH.
Stamp has several meanings. It can mean “prestige”, “medicine prepared so that it can be swallowed”, or “an official seal”, the oldest sense of the word in English, first used in the 1600s. It is pronounced cash-AY .

Merriam Webster

An application cache is the hidden data that an application compiles or maintains in order to load quickly the next time you open it. This is temporary storage intended to speed up the loading of information to improve the user experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s always welcome.

Leaving a cache unchecked could be almost as detrimental to your life as leaving a check uncashed, considering we use our phones for everything, even banking. However, Android has gotten so much better at handling this on its own and intelligently deleting information it doesn’t need after an app is closed or exited. That being said, some apps that intentionally store large amounts of data (like Google Play Books or the Google Search app) can take up a lot of your phone’s memory, making it difficult for anyone with memory smaller internal to keep their device fast and reliable. Additionally, cache files may get corrupted affecting how an app works (or not), they may contain sensitive data that could become the target of a malicious attack to collect your personal information, and more again. So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you may or may not want to keep the cache handy, so the choice will ultimately be yours.

Really, the process of deciding whether or not to clear the cache depends on whether or not you use an app frequently. Clearing it often could slow your experience more than it might help, so be careful when determining that.

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Again, Android has gotten pretty damn good at managing data behind the scenes with improvements via machine learning and artificial intelligence, but I’ll tell you one thing for sure: clearing your app cache via third-party apps is probably the worst thing you could do. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless said app asks for lots of permissions which it certainly doesn’t need to do its job, which is common, but the real reason to go the manual route and to thoughtfully clear app cache via one app at a time is because clearing everything at once all the time is so random and sloppy that it should speak for itself.

As I said before, erasing one app at a time depending on the circumstances is the best way to go. App cache can be beneficial, but if you’re having trouble with an app, or say, say, Google Play Books has downloaded 6GB of data (if you listen to as many audiobooks as I do) and you don’t don’t need it constantly available, erasing it could free up a lot of space to give you room for games or just fuller phone performance.

To clear the cache of an Android app on your phone, simply swipe down twice from the top to access your quick settings, then tap the cog or gear icon. Most phones running Android have it under quick settings on the right side, but yours may vary depending on your manufacturer. You can also access the Settings app by opening the cog or gear icon in your app drawer, or by asking Google Assistant “Hey Google, open Settings app”. This will immediately take you to a list of all your installed apps, but if you’re going the old route, just open the Settings app, go to “Apps” or “Apps & notifications” then “See all”.

Alright, now scroll down until you find the app you’re looking to clear, or tap the magnifying glass in the top right of the screen to search for it by name. In this example, I’m actually going to use Google Play Books, mentioned above, because it has a lot of cached data for the reason I mentioned above.

Tapping on the app will take you to its individual app settings. From here, you can force stop the app, uninstall or open it, change its notification settings, see what permissions it needs to work, and more. For now, just tap on “Storage & Cache”. Next, you will be presented with a screen that has two buttons. One says “Clear storage”, and the other says “Clear cache”.

To be sure, I want to quickly explain the difference. Force quitting a misbehaving app and then clearing its cache and storage will completely wipe the app, forcing you to log in again. Going this route is overkill if you’re just trying to free up space, and any locally stored files that aren’t synced to the cloud will be deleted forever, so be careful! In the case of Google Play Books, this would be the only way to clear the 3.76GB of downloaded books, and signing in with my Google account only takes a few clicks, so I don’t mind.

For now, just tap “Clear cache”. Under the “Cache” section, you will see that the amount of storage drops to “0 B”, which means that there are no bytes stored locally in the cache. Hooray! You did it ! Now you can open the app one more time and start using it, but remember that the app cache accumulates each time you open or use an app. Typically, you’ll want to reserve this action for rare instances.

I just want the steps!

1. Read “How You Shouldn’t Clear Your Cache” above
2. Open the Settings app on your Android phone
3. Tap “Apps” or “Apps and notifications”
4. Tap or search for the app in question and select it
5. Choose “Storage and Cache”
6. Select “Clear Cache”

About Stuart M. McFarland

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