How to use content caching on a Mac

Content caching is a unique Mac feature that can be extremely useful if you have several Apple devices in your home. It can be used to store your Internet data, speed up downloads, and even access iCloud data, caching things like iOS, macOS, or iPadOS software updates on a Mac, which are then distributed from the Mac server to qualified online devices – instead of to download them again from Apple. This feature was once limited to the macOS server, but Apple offered it to users with a macOS High Sierra update a few years ago.

Ever since its introduction, advanced macOS users have used this feature to use part of their Mac memory as local cache that stores software distributed by Apple and other data that users store in iCloud. Let’s say you’ve updated your iPhone to the latest version of iOS. A copy of this software update is automatically cached so that other iPhones connected to the same network can access the copy from this cache instead of downloading the update again from Apple’s servers that use your Internet data.

Interested in trying out the content caching feature on your macOS device? We’ve covered you, let’s see how it works.

How to use content caching on a Mac to speed up downloads, save bandwidth, and more

As long as your Mac uses macOS High Sierra 10.13 or later, you’ll be able to enable and use content caching. Here’s what to do:

  1. Click the  Apple menu and select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  2. In the System Preferences panel, click “Sharing” next to the Time Machine settings as shown in the image below.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  3. In this menu, check the box next to Content Caching below the list of services and wait a few seconds until the Content Caching indicator turns green. By default, both shared and iCloud content will be stored on the Mac, but you can change that.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  4. Changing the caching content setting to either of the other two options will prompt that data that you do not want to cache will be immediately removed from the content cache. Select “Delete” if you really want to change your settings.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  5. If you want to select a volume for the content cache or change the cache size, you can click on “Options” on the right.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  6. You can now select the memory volume and use the cache size slider or enter the value manually as needed. When you have finished making changes, click “OK”.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  7. In addition, there are some advanced configuration settings that can be accessed by holding down the OPTION key while you are in the Sharing menu. This will change the options to “Advanced Options” as shown in the screenshot here.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

  8. You will now be able to configure settings for clients, colleagues, and parent IP addresses.

    How to use content caching on a Mac

There you go. You have successfully enabled content caching on your Mac.

Your Mac is now the host computer, while client devices can be iPhones and iPads running iOS 7 or later. Other Macs on the same network will also be considered client devices. In addition, Apple TVs that use at least tvOS 10 and Apple Watch that use watchOS 7 and later can also be used as client devices.

From now on, you only need to download software and application updates for a specific device once, after which the updates will be accessed from the content cache instead of via the Internet connection. Note that you are not limited to Apple software, applications, and application updates with the caching service. You can check this Apple support page for a detailed list of supported content types.

Users will be able to use content caching on networks consisting of NAT environments for host and client devices or on networks consisting of publicly rotable IP addresses.

Remember that both host and client devices must be connected to the same local network to access the content cache.

How to view content caching logs on a Mac

If you want to see a log of content caching, what is being served and what is being done, you can do so via the command line.

Start the Terminal on the Mac where the content caching server is running and use the following set of commands:

log show --predicate 'subsystem == ""'

The same log data is also available through the Console application if you want to use it.

We hope you have learned to use content caching and enable this feature for your home or office. How many Apple devices will use the content cache you just set up? What do you think about this feature? Share your personal experiences and leave your valuable thoughts and opinions about this handy feature in the comments section below.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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