This is a post based on a response from a question someone emailed me the other day. If you ever have a minor problem with an application that doesn’t seem to disappear after a while and solve itself, for example the wrong email address with a name in Mail, the solution is very simple. This post is designed to target new users to the Mac who may not have experienced this kind of behaviour. The solutions are deleting cache and preference files. This post wont solve problems caused by bad coding in applications. Just problems that have shown the correct results (i.e a named entry in a database) before and have suddenly broken themselves. This should be a solution to 99.9% of minor problems and only really needs to be done every couple of months.
The quickest way of solving minor problems in applications is to restart the app. This will clear the RAM (where the problem may be stored) and allow the program to start a fresh. This generally clears problems relating to wrong names, or incorrect dates, times etc. It allows the program to read from the cache again.
Some problems may need a little bit more work. The majority of Mac apps run from a cache. If this cache gets corrupted and isn’t updated it can produce minor errors. To delete the cache relating to a program go to /Users/[name]/Library/Caches , find the folder relating to the application and delete it. Make sure the app you want to solve is closed before hand. When you restart the app it should have cleared any problems. Some cache files may also be stored in /Library/Caches, although unlikely.
If deleting the app results in any adverse effects (it shouldn’t do), simply close the program and move the cache files back from the Trash into there original location.
Apps on your Mac run with a combination of caches and preference files. Caches store data in a quick and easy to access method. Preferences store information relating to logins and settings. Corrupt or incorrect preference files may cause applications to crash or behave incorrectly. You can delete the preference file and hopefully solve any problems. Please note that, deleting preferences will set the application back to “new” so you may have to enter serial codes, apply users again. However if you have an app that is constantly crashing but didn’t before this may be a solution. Before you start make sure any apps are closed.
Preference files are stored in Library/Preferences , these mostly relate to system applications. Most commonly preference files are stored in /Users/[name]/Library/Preferences. In a similar vein to the cache files, if it doesn’t work (and you want to retrieve your settings) simply drag the preference file back to it original location.
The final solution is to upgrade (or downgrade) you application. Go to the developers website to see if there is a newer version. It may be worth contacting the developer and filing a bug report if you think it may help.
Hopefully these methods will work for you, I recommend you restart and delete caches files before you try anything else. It may also be worth considering moving to a different app. If you have any other solutions please leave a comment below.