How (and when) to clear app cache or data on Android

Every Android smartphone has an application manager that you can get to through the settings menu. It's usually in the top-level somewhere, though it can vary a little by phone. But once you get to it, you're at the heart of the matter. This area is where you can see every application that's installed on your phone or tablet. And it's a handy place to clean things up a bit should they go wonky.

The app cache (and how to clear it)

As you use applications, they start storing files for reference later. These files are stored in an app "cache." For instance: When you're using a web browser, it'll save images you've seen so that they don't have to be downloaded every single time the app needs them. This cache saves you time and data.

But maybe you want to clear an app's cached data, either to regain some used space or to try to fix a misbehaving app. This method is how you can do it.

  1. Open the Settings of your phone.
  2. If you have an older phone running Android Oreo or earlier, you'll want to open the App Manager settings page.
  3. Open the Apps section.
  4. Tap the See all apps heading to see a list of your installed apps.

App settings

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Find the application you want to clear the cache of and tap its listing.
  2. Tap the Storage & cache button.
  3. Tap the Clear cache button.

App settings

(Image credit: Future)

The next time you use the app, it will download everything it needs from the internet like it did the first time you used it. Clearing cached data does not clear other data like logins or saved games. This often fixes things, especially when an app pulls its content from a website that is always changing and adding more content. 

If you want to clear the storage completely, repeat these steps, and choose the Clear storage button in the final step. Warning: This will remove all of the app's data, including usernames and passwords, game progress, etc.

Your phone might look different

All Android phones cache application data the same way, but some manufacturers offer separate tools to keep apps in check. We're using the Pixel in this guide, but your phone might be slightly different. Don't worry, the basics are all the same, and this guide will work for your phone, too!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.