As both a Chromebook user and a web developer, I’ve spent a good bit of time using the following keyboard shortcut that I’m about to show to you. I use it so often, in fact, that it just hit me this morning that I’ve never really shared how to do this quickly, without settings menus and without extensions here on Chrome Unboxed. What is it, then? Simple: clearing your page cache on the fly.
You may not even be familiar with what that is, so let me quickly explain. Many websites and browsers use page caching in order to store static bits of a website or web app in your browser for much faster fetching the next time you load that site up. For instance, the CSS used to style this site you are looking at right now doesn’t change every time you load it up. It is static, so there’s really no need for your browser to go find and fetch it from the server each time you come by the site. Thus, storing those files in the browser’s cache helps speed things along.
For some applications, browser caching is amazing and helps keep speeds up across the websites you frequent. There are times, however, when things do change on websites or web apps and those dynamic shifts are necessary for the end user experience. In those cases, we obviously wouldn’t want caching, but it can happen regardless. With websites getting more and more complex every day, it isn’t uncommon to have an issue with something on the web that can be cured by simply flushing your browser’s cache for that particular page.
How to quickly clear your page cache in Chrome
You used to have to jump through hoops, go into settings, or leverage an extension to do this. It was clumsy and cumbersome and understandable that many people didn’t even know where to go to give it a try. Those methods are still there, but there’s a quick way to clear your cache without the need of any of that: CTRL + SHIFT + R (CMD + SHIFT + R on Mac). For what it’s worth, CTRL + R is the keyboard shortcut to do a standard page refresh. Adding SHIFT to the mix simply flushes that cache along with it.
What this does is clear out all the browser’s locally-stored files for that particular page and gives you a clean, real-time look at what is being offered up from the server. While not a panacea for all browser/cache issues, this one quick step can go a long way towards solving many of them. Keep in mind some sites also use server-side caching for enhanced speed, so this method won’t help if that sort of caching is in play and causing the issue. Most times, the locally-stored browser files are the ones that cause user frustration, so this trick will likely help.
While using the method every single time you refresh a page isn’t necessary, it is the absolute first thing I do when a site isn’t behaving the way I think it should be. Clearing the cache won’t fix complex coding problems in sites or web apps, obviously, but when a site has worked as expected until a certain point and then seems to not be cooperating any longer, my first check is to make sure Chrome hasn’t become a bit too aggressive at holding on to those cached files. A quick hard refresh – as I tend to call it – clears up a ton of issues on a regular basis. Hopefully it can help you out in a pinch, too.