What Does Hard Refresh Do? How to Do It on a Web Browser?

Most people know how to refresh a web browser by clicking on the “Refresh” or “F5” button. This refreshes the page you are viewing, but does not completely clear out your history or cookies that may have been created while browsing.

For instance, if you’re looking at a website about shoes and then switch over to one about jackets, it’s possible that information from the shoe site will be stored in your computer when you go back to look at jacket sites.

There is no way of knowing for sure what was saved in this manner unless you manually remove all traces of each individual site when they are done browsing them. This can be time-consuming and tedious so many people just give up altogether and don’t bother trying to erase their history.

What Does Hard Refresh Do?

Web browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer include a “hard refresh” function that clears your browser’s cache, all cookies associated with the site you’re viewing, and your browsing history.

A hard refresh also erases any open tabs or windows that may be present on your computer at the time of refreshing. In this article we’ll show you how to do a hard refresh in Firefox, Chrome, and IE so you can have a fresh start at any time without having to manually delete each individual cookie from your most used sites.

Checking with the server for any changes is what happens even if your web browser has a cached version of a web page. A hard refresh can clear forms and ensure that you’re viewing it as it currently appears, but usually doesn’t need to be used.

When there are changes to stylesheets on a web page, users can’t see the changes until they do a hard refresh. This is because the web browser will continue to use the cached version of the style, making it difficult for you to see any updates to the page design.

How to Do a Hard Refresh?

Each browser provides a refresh icon near the address bar which can refresh a web page when clicked. Alternately, you can press F5.

To hard refresh, you need to hold down the Command/Control button then press F5 or Ctrl + R.

A hard refresh will remove any cached information and display the web page as it appears on the server at that moment.

Google Chrome

  • Windows: Ctrl F5 
  • Mac: Cmd + Shift + R


  • Windows: hold down Ctrl and then press F5 on your keyboard
  • Mac: Cmd + Shift + R

Safari (Mac)

  • Access Safari > Empty Cache, or hit Opt Cmd + E
  • Press Cmd + R or refresh button on the address bar

Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge (Windows)

  • Ctrl F5 

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