Cookies are small text files written by a web browser that contain information about your interaction with one specific site. They include information like your username for logins or what you bought on a retail website. They’re relatively benign, but they can impact your privacy and they take up some space on your system, so removing them is something that many people like to do on a semi-regular basis.
If you’re concerned about what websites are leaving behind and how advertisers are accessing that data, here’s how to clear cookies from the latest version of your favorite web browser.
The Digital Trends staff voted Google Chrome as the best browser of 2018. It lets you easily delete cookies, control browsing data, and specify what sort of files it should accept or block.
Step 1: Click on the three-dot “Menu” icon in the upper-right corner, and select “Settings.” Once the new tab opens, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Advanced.” This will expand the “Settings” page to include additional options.
Step 2: The first expanded window you should see is the “Privacy and security” panel. Look to the bottom and click on “Clear browsing data.”
Step 3: Decide whether it’s just cookies you want to clear or everything and select how far back you want to clear them using the drop-down menu.
Step 4: When ready, click the blue “Clear data” button.
To manage how cookies are saved and stored in the future, go back to the “Privacy and security,” list and click on “Content settings,” followed by “Cookies.” There you’ll find options for which cookies are stored and whether you want to block third-party cookies or not.
Chrome on Android or iOS
Step 1: Access Chrome’s menu, go to “Settings,” and then find the “Privacy” tab under “Advanced” settings.
Step 2: Select “Clear Browsing Data” and check “Clear cookies and site data,” before tapping “Clear data” at the bottom.
There are also options for clearing your browser history and removing cached images and files.
The open-source browser has tons of addons and actually offers more options than Chrome when it comes to customizing these settings — and that was before Quantum turned things on its head. Here’s how to clear out any cookies it’s storing.
Step 1: Click on the three-line icon in the top-right corner. In the drop-down menu, select “Options.”
Step 2: Select “Privacy and security” listed on the menu to the left. Look for the heading “Cookies and site data.”
Step 2: Click the “Clear Data…” button.
Step 3: Make sure “Cookies and Site Data” is ticked and then click the “Clear” button.
Alternatively, click the “Manage data” link. A window appears with a search field for locating a specific cookie, and a list of all cookies stored on your device. You can hit the “Remove Selected” button to delete a highlighted cookie, or hit the “Remove All” button to delete them all.
To manage how cookies are handled by Firefox, there are several options you can toggle, including whether to “Accept cookies…” or “Block cookies.” Under the “Cookies and Site Data” heading, look to the right where Mozilla provides an “Exceptions” button where you can control whether individual cookies are blocked or allowed, respectively.
Firefox on iOS
Step 1: Tap the New Tab button (top right, with the number in it).
Step 2: Tap the cog button in the top left of the screen.
Step 3: Scroll down to “Clear private data.” On the next screen, make sure “Cookies” is selected, then tap “Clear Private Data.”
Unlike Chrome and Firefox, Safari only stores cookies from websites you visit. Nevertheless, Safari lets you easily change these settings. Since the Windows version of Safari has been discontinued, our instructions will focus on the MacOS version.
Step 1: Click on the Safari menu in the upper-left corner and choose “Clear History,” to delete everything in one go, from a variety of time frames. If you would much prefer to have more control over what is deleted, choose the “Preferences” option.
Step 2: In the “Privacy” section, you can use “Block all cookies” to remove everything in one fell swoop. Alternatively, click on “Details” to see a list of each individual cookie stored in the browser which you can then remove individually.
Safari’s options for limited filtering of cookies are limited. You can, however, ask websites not to track you (the Do Not Track feature), or have Safari attempt to block cross-site tracking.
Safari on iOS
Step 1: Go into “Settings” and select Safari.
Step 2: To delete all cookies, tap “Clear History and Website Data.” To delete a specific cookie, tap “Advanced,” then “Website Data” to pull up a list of cookies stored on your phone. From there, hit “Edit,” tap the red circle next to the specific cookie you want to remove and delete it.
Edge is Microsoft’s latest browser integrated into Windows 10. Here’s how to alter its cookie settings and wipe out any existing ones:
Step 1: Click on the three-dot Settings icon in the top right-hand corner.
Step 2: Click “Settings” on the drop-down menu and scroll down to the section titled “Clear browsing data.”
Step 3: Click the “Choose what to clear” button.
Step 4: Make sure “Cookies and saved website data,” is ticked and then click the “Clear” button.
To manage how Edge handles cookies, scroll to the bottom of the main settings menu. You should see “Advanced Settings.” Click on the associated “View advanced settings.” At the bottom, you’ll find the “Cookies” section with a drop-down menu. Your options are to block all cookies, block only third-party cookies, or don’t block them at all (default).
Within the “Choose what to clear,” menu, you also have the option to clear cookies every time you leave the browser, using the toggle option under the “Clear” button.
Although the Opera browser is based on the same foundation used by Google Chrome, getting to the browser’s cookie options has a slightly different process.
Step 1: Click on the red Opera logo in the top-left corner
Step 2: Select “Settings,” from the drop-down menu and a new tab will open in the browser.
Step 3: Click on “Privacy & Security” in the menu to the left, and scroll down to the “Cookies” section listed in the resulting settings.
Step 4: Click on the “All cookies and site data” button.
Step 5: Click the “Delete all” button to remove all cookies, or select individual cookies and click the “X” icon to delete them one by one.
To manage how Opera handles cookies, on the “Privacy and security,” page, use the toggles under the “Cookies,” heading to decide whether you want cookies to be blocked, deleted at regular intervals, or allowed entirely.
Apps and plugins
While browsers make clearing cookies manually fairly easy, there are also a host of apps and browser plugins that can give you a little more control of your cookies.
CCleaner is a powerful tool you can download for free and use to clean your system of excess files generated by your web browser and other applications. CCleaner has an edge over traditional web browsers in cleaning cookies because it can do so across the board, rather than just within a particular browser.
This extension serves as a handy security app for Chrome. The simple piece of software touts the ability to scan for malware, and installs a toilet paper icon that allows you to delete cookies with a single click. You can also customize the feature to clear both your cache and browsing history, if you prefer.
Self-Destroying Cookies is a useful add-on for Firefox. The software creates cookie rules that deal with particular cookies. If a cookie tries to persist after you close your browser tabs, this add-on will delete it automatically. If the cookie tries to track what you’re doing, it will also be immediately deleted. There are even advanced options for dealing with zombie cookies, rendering Self-Destroying Cookies an attractive solution if you don’t want to keep deleting cookies manually.