Web Development

Difference between F5 and Shift F5 (Ctrl F5)

By Mary, on February 24, 2021, updated on August 25, 2023 - 3 min read

If you are like me, as soon as a web page loads badly, I become a compulsive refresh user by pressing F5 or Shift F5 (Ctrl FR or Ctrl+r or Ctrl+Shift+r).

But what is the difference between these 2 actions? What happens in the browser when you do either combination, F5 or Shift F5 (Ctrl F5)?

[Solved] F5 and Shift + F5 (or Ctrl F5)

This is what the Google Chrome browser help says (here):

F5 and Shift + F5

The classic reload: F5

This action reloads the page, taking the page cache into account, i.e. we often reload the same page, the one cached (text, images, javascript, …).

Depending on the expiry of the cache, you may not get the same page. If the cache has expired, a new page will be reloaded. If an element of the page has its cache expired, this element will be reloaded.

Other shortcut: Ctrl + r

What does shift f5 (ctrl F5) do: forced reload

This action forces the page to reload regardless of the cached content by retrieving a completely reloaded page. This action retrieves the most recent content of the page visited.

This is generally slower than a simple refresh (F5 or CTRL + F5), as the data is not directly retrieved from the cache.

If you are in the situation where an element of the page has not loaded, an image for example, the simplest way is to press Shift + F5 on your keyboard.

Other shortcuts: Ctrl + Shift + r or Ctrl + F5.

On Mac and Apple: Press Apple + R or Command + R on your keyboard

This operation is the same on most modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Brave, Edge, …).

Ctrl f5 vs Shift F5 ?

There is no difference between the use of these two shortcuts.

Delete the cache (Hard refresh)

Shift + F5 or Ctrl F5 does not delete the cache, but ignores it.

To clear the cache and do a hard refresh you can use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Delete (or Ctrl + Shift + Del).

Upon doing so, a window will appear, similar to the one in the Opera browser below, where you can select the items you wish to remove from the cache :

opera cache delete

Warning: Deleting certain cookies may log you out of some tools (e.g., Gmail).

If, for any reason, the shortcut doesn’t work, or you simply want to erase a file, you can follow traditional methods. Below are tutorials to do a hard refresh in the main browsers:

Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click on the three vertical dots (or bars) in the upper-right corner. This opens the menu.
  3. Hover over More tools, and then select Clear browsing data.
more tools chrome
clear browsing data chrome
  1. In the pop-up window, select the time range from the drop-down menu. (Choosing All time will clear everything.)
  2. Check the box for Cached images and files.
  3. Click the Clear data button.

Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Click on the three horizontal lines in the upper-right corner.
  3. Choose Options.
  4. Select the Privacy & Security tab on the left side.
  5. In the Cookies and Site Data section, click Clear Data.
  6. Make sure Cached Web Content is checked.
  7. Click Clear.

Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Click on the three horizontal dots in the upper-right corner.
  3. Hover over History and select Clear browsing data.
  4. Choose what you want to clear and set the time range. Ensure Cached images and files is checked.
  5. Click on Clear now.

Apple Safari (Mac):

  1. Open Safari.
  2. From the top menu, select Safari, then choose Preferences.
  3. Go to the Advanced tab.
  4. Check the box at the bottom where it says Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  5. Close Preferences. You’ll now see a new Develop option in the top menu.
  6. Press Develop, then select Empty Caches.


  1. Open Opera.
  2. Click on the Opera logo in the top-left corner.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Settings.
  4. In the left sidebar, click Privacy & security.
  5. Under Privacy, click on Clear browsing data.
  6. Choose the time range and make sure Cached images and files is checked.
  7. Click Clear data.

F5 key vs. Shift F5 shortcut : the essentials

In conclusion, there is a difference between the F5 and Shift+F5 (Ctrl+F5) functions in web browsers.

  • If you hold the F5 key on your keyboard it will reload a web page taking into account the cache.
  • If you press Shift+F5 (Ctrl+F5) it will force a complete page reload regardless of cached content.