Clean Temporary Files from Browser Cache


Your computer saves temporary files of pictures, text, and cookies as you browse the Web. Removing these may improve the speed of your computer (slightly) and may remove adware and virus installers that hide within the temporary folders.

Are cookies good to keep or an invasion of your privacy?

+ Some feel cookies are helpful because they remember some passwords and preferences.

- Others feel cookies are an intrusion - do you really want Amazon to remember your book preferences and then present targeted ads when you shop on-line? Maybe you like that personalized service or maybe you sense Big Brother looking over your shoulder.

- Some don't like the thought of thousands of unwanted cookies building up. A few might be useful but the vast majority are unwanted and were placed on you computer without your knowledge.

+ You decide - leave the cookies or clear them as you follow the steps below.

These sections follow:

Empty Safari's Cache (Macintosh OS X)

  1. Launch the Safari browser.
  2. Open the Safari menu.
  3. Choose Empty Cache.
  4. Click the Empty button.
    The following steps are optional. Some people like cookies.
  5. Open the Safari menu.
  6. Choose Preferences.
  7. Choose the Security icon at the top.
  8. Click the Show Cookies button.
  9. Click the Remove All button.
  10. When asked to confirm, click the next Remove All button.
  11. Click the Done button.
  12. Close the Security dialog box.

screen shot of Firefox icon

Empty Firefox's Cache

Firefox 1.5 for Windows

1. Run Mozilla Firefox.

2. Open the Tools menu.

3. Choose Options.

4. Choose Privacy.

5. Select any tab.

6. Use the tab's clear button, if desired.

7. Optionally use the Settings button to set cache clearing when Firefox closes.

Firefox 1.5 for Macintosh OS X

1. Run Firefox.

2. Open the Firefox menu.

3. Choose Preferences.

4. Choose Privacy on the left.

5. Click an individual Clear button or the Clear All button.

For example, if you want to keep the cookies, don't use Clear All.

6. Confirm that you want to clear the items.

7. Click OK.

Firefox 2.0 for Windows and Macintosh OS X

1. Run Firefox.

2. Open the Tools menu.

3. Choose Clear Private Data

4. Check boxes for items to be cleared and uncheck boxes for items to be retained.

5. Click the Clear Private Data Now button and the window closes on its own.

screen shot of Internet Explorer icon

Empty Internet Explorer's Cache

IE for Windows prior to version 7 which is described below

  1. Run Internet Explorer.
  2. Open the Tools menu.
  3. Choose Internet Options.
  4. Optional: Click the Delete Cookies button.
  5. Click the Delete Files button.
  6. Click the Clear History button (optional).
  7. Click OK.

IE for Macintosh OS X

  1. Launch Internet Explorer.
  2. Open the Explorer menu.
  3. Choose Preferences.
  4. Choose Advanced on the left under Web Browser.
  5. Click the Clear History button.
  6. Click the Empty Now button for cache.
    The following steps are optional. Some people like cookies.
  7. On the left, under Receiving Files, choose Cookies.
  8. Single-click any one cookie in the list.
  9. Use Command-A to select all.
  10. Click the Delete button.
  11. Click OK.

screen shot of Internet Explorer 7 icon

Empty Cache in Internet Explorer 7

1. Run Internet Explorer 7.

2. Open the Tools menu.

screen shot of toolbar

3. Choose the item(s) you want to clear.

a. Delete all, which is at the bottom, is not selective and clears everything.

b. Delete files will remove general Internet clutter. This is a safe choice.

c. Delete cookies does what it says.

This is generally safe, but some users like and want to keep the cookies.

d. Delete history clears the log of pages that you have visited recently.

e. Form data is information you typed on a Web page, perhaps on a purchasing form for online shopping.

f. Passwords - a security issue

IE (and other browsers) can remember usernames and passwords that you type on Web pages. Examples might be logging into GMail, Netflixs, ordering on EBay, and so on.

There are many potential problems. Here's a specific case. I visited my daughter and ordered some Netflix movies on her computer. A couple of days later she wrote to critique my movie choices and she changed my queue. No great harm was done, but you can imagine more serious situations where someone could use Web mail in your name or view your retirement account and so on. If I had cleared passwords before walking away from her computer, this would not have happened. What if I had been in the public library or a cyber café when my password was memorized?

Keep in mind that this issue is important on any computer, not just borrowed or public computers. The next person sitting down to use your home computer will be able to use your saved passwords.

4. Close after clicking the appropriate button(s).

Related Information

More Thorough Cleanup

To clean more types of temporary files in Windows XP with Disk Cleanup, please see below:

Stop IE from Saving Passwords

1. Open Tools menu → Internet OptionsContent tab → AutoComplete Settings button

2. Remove two checks: Forms and User names ...

3. Have IE delete any saved passwords.

Stop Firefox 2 from Saving Passwords

1a. In Windows, Tools menu → OptionsSecurity

1b. On a Mac, Firefox menu → PreferencesSecurity

2. Uncheck Remember passwords for sites.


Disk Cleanup in Windows XP


Microsoft Windows and various applications store temporary files. Removing these may improve the speed of your computer, may remove adware and virus installers that hide within the temporary folders, and will free up disk space.

This document explains:

Using Windows XP Disk Cleanup

Microsoft Windows XP contains a cleanup tool, Disk Cleanup. Windows 2000 has the same tool but it appears to be buggy and sometimes crashes.

1. First, close all programs and save your work. Do not run other programs while you run Cleanup.

2. Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools

3. Choose Disk Cleanup.

4. If you have multiple hard drives, you may be asked to choose which drive letter. Choose C:

5. You will see the following message as the program analyzes your hard disk. Allow a minute or two for the evaluation.

screen shot of the progress bar

6. A dialog box appears asking which file types to remove. Please read the following cautionary note.

screen shot of check boxes for file types

Caution: When selecting file types, do not check "Temporary Offline Files." If you use offline file synchronization with a file server, you could wipe out all of your documents from the network folder.

Here are descriptions of safe choices. If you choose any other file types, you do so at your own risk. This is a safe tool for computer maintenance when used with care.

Downloaded Program Files: These are ActiveX controls and Java applets that certain Web sites downloaded and installed on your computer. The downloaded installers should be safe to remove.

Temporary Internet Files: Internet Explorer creates a cache, i.e. temporary file, of images, text, and cookies. They are supposed to make Web pages appear more quickly when you revisit them. They're mostly just clutter and can be removed.

Recycle Bin: Things you deleted should not be stored in the Recycle Bin. If you're worried that you may need it in the future, store it somewhere else. Empty the Recycle Bin.

Temporary Files: While Windows and Office programs are running, they create temporary files for various reasons. When there is a graceful exit, the temporary files are supposed to be deleted. They are not always deleted and if the computer or program crashes, the deletion fails. These were meant to be temporary. Delete them.

7. Check the boxes for files you want to remove. Then click the OK button.

8. At the next screen, answer Yes if you want to proceed.

screen shot of Yes No question

9. A bar graph indicates the progress. Please be patient.

screen shot of the cleanup progress bar

10. The program closes and disappears when finished. You are back at the desktop.

What is missing?

To learn how to clean the cache (i.e. temporary files and cookies) in various browsers on both the Windows and Macintosh OS X platforms, see the above sections.


Inserting Special Characters

You can use the Symbol dialog box to enter symbols, such as ¼, and ©, or special characters, such as an em dash (—) or ellipsis (…), that are not on your keyboard, as well as Unicode (Unicode: A character encoding standard developed by the Unicode Consortium. By using more than one byte to represent each character, Unicode enables almost all of the written languages in the world to be represented by using a single character set.) characters.

If you are using an expanded font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, the Subset list appears. Use this list to choose from an extended list of language characters, including Greek and Russian (Cyrillic), if available.

ShowInsert a symbol

  1. Click where you want to insert the symbol.
  2. On the Insert menu, click Symbol, and then click the Symbols tab.
  3. In the Font box, click the font that you want.
  4. Double-click the symbol that you want to insert.
  5. Click Close.

ShowInsert a special character

  1. Click where you want to insert the special character.
  2. On the Insert menu, click Symbol, and then click the Special Characters tab.
  3. Double-click the character you want to insert.
  4. Click Close.

ShowInsert a Unicode character

When you select a Unicode character in the Symbol dialog box, its character code appears in the Character code box. If you already know the character code, you can type it directly into the Character code box to find the Unicode character.

The name displayed before the Character code box is the official character name in the Unicode 3.0 standard.

  1. Click where you want to insert the Unicode character.
  2. On the Insert menu, click Symbol, and then click the Symbols tab.
  3. In the Font box, click the font that you want.
  4. In the From box, click Unicode.

The set of characters is limited if you select something other than Unicode in the From box. For example, if you select a local code page rather than Unicode, you will see a correspondingly reduced set of characters in the Symbol dialog box.

  1. If the Subset box is available, click a subcategory.
  2. Double-click the symbol that you want to insert.
  3. Click Close.

Unicode options

*       If you know the character code for a Unicode character, you do not need to open the Symbol dialog box. Type the Unicode hexadecimal character code in the document, and then press ALT+X.

*       You can toggle a character that is already in your document to display its Unicode hexadecimal character code by placing the insertion point directly after the character and pressing ALT+X.

*       To display the character code based on the local code page, type x before the character, place the insertion point after the character, and then press ALT+X. This process will work only if the character is represented in the local code page.

*       You can convert a hexadecimal value from the local code page into a character. Type x before a hexadecimal value, place the insertion point after the value, and then press ALT+X.


*       You can increase or decrease the size of the Symbol dialog box. Move the pointer to the lower-right corner of the dialog box until it changes into a double-headed arrow, and then drag to the desired size.

*       You can quickly insert a recently used symbol by double-clicking a symbol in the Recently used symbols box and then clicking Close.


Which Windows Version Do I have?

Basic tasks such as setting up Mail, network printing, and connecting to a server have changed between the versions of Windows. The help desk needs to know what version you have before we can advise you. You also need to know the correct version before choosing a help sheet or purchasing a software book.

  1. In your Start menu, choose Run.
  2. Type winver and click OK.

Look for the Version in the resulting window:


Safely Remove USB Devices — Avoid File Corruption in Windows

What devices are affected?

These steps apply to USB keychain drives, cameras, memory card readers, etc.

Why do this? Why not simply yank it out?

If you don't safely eject the drive, you may corrupt the drive and individual files or completely destroy data.

Find the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon.

Attach a USB device. An icon appears in the notification area (aka system tray). Look in the lower right corner of the screen near the time. The icon has a diagonal green arrow pointing down to the left. It is circled in red below to the left. If you pause the mouse pointer over the icon, its name will pop up. See the example below to the right.

screen shot of eject icon

screen shot of eject icon pop up name

Request safe removal.

Single-click the icon. A list of removable drives appears.

screen shot of items to eject

This portable computer has two removable drives: the CD-RW/DVD drive E: and the USB keychain drive F:.

If you cannot tell which to remove, look for the drive letter in My Computer. This example shows two removable drives.

The one with the silver platter is the CD-RW/DVD drive. In this case, drive E:

The generic icon represents a USB keychain drive, F:

screen shot within My Computer


Now that you know the drive letter, repeat the ejection process outlined above.

Now you may remove it.

screen shot of message to proceed