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. Note that Google will sync this action with your other devices where this Google account is signed in. You can switch it to affect only this particular device if you prefer.
Step 4: When ready, click the blue Clear data button. If your Google account is synced to other devices, it will also clear cookies on those. If you don’t want that to happen (some of those cookies may be useful for business, for example), then you will have to sign out of your account first.
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 add-ons 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. For $20 per year, you can also upgrade to the Pro version, which allows for scheduled cleaning, real-time monitoring, and other functions that businesses may find useful.
Cookie AutoDelete will automatically get rid of any cookies when you close a browser tab, while keeping a running tab of the cookies on the site that you can check for more information. You can also immediately clear the cookies from a domain whenever you want. The extension allows you to make and share white lists and gray lists of cookies that you may want to allow (or at least, allow for now). It comes in both Chrome and Firefox, and it’s one of the best hands-off cookie management options around.