When you visit a website, your browser might save a small piece of data that allows your computer to recognize the site in the future. This is called a cookie. Although their name is unusual, these byte-sized morsels play a key role in your browsing experience. But there are compelling reasons to delete them on occasion. Here’s how to clear cookies so you don’t leave a digital paper trail.
Why Should You Clear Cookies?
The main use for cookies is that they save your information. They prevent you from having to log back in, for example, when you click from one article to the next while reading the New York Times. Cookies aren’t inherently harmful, but there are a few reasons you might want to delete them, including:
- Stopping websites from tracking you over a long period of time
- Deleting outdated cookies
- Protecting your privacy on a shared network, such as a library computer
- Speeding up your device
- Fixing loading or formatting issues
As soon as you clear the cookies from your computer, websites will forget who you are, and you’ll need to log back into any personal accounts. Make sure you know all your passwords before clearing cookies. If two-factor authentication is enabled for any of your accounts, double-check that your phone number or email address is current so you can easily log back in.
If you need to delete cookies frequently, consider disabling them so your device won’t store them in the first place.
How to Clear Cookies in Firefox
To delete cookies on your Firefox browser, follow these steps:
- First, click the menu icon located on the top right corner of your browser. It looks like three horizontal lines stacked on top of each other.
- On the dropdown menu, click Settings.
- Select Privacy and security. It’s on the left side of the screen.
- Next, select Clear data.
- Specify what you want to delete.
- Lastly, press Clear now.
How to Clear Cookies in Google Chrome
The fastest way to clear cookies is to press Ctrl + Shift + Delete and follow the instructions starting at step three. Or, you can follow these steps from the beginning:
- On the top right corner of your browser, click the icon with three vertical dots.
- Hover over More tools, then click on Clear browsing data…
- The Clear browsing data window will pop up. Only tick the Cookies and other site data box unless you also want to clear your history and cache.
- Under the Advanced tab, you can select a time range to specify which cookies you want to delete. To clear all your cookies, select All time.
- Finally, click Clear data.
How to Clear Cookies in Safari
This process will look a little different depending on if you’re using a Mac or an iOS device. Here’s how to do it on your computer:
- Open Safari.
- On the dropdown menu, click Preferences.
- Next, click on Privacy.
- Select Manage website data.
- Click Remove all.
And here’s how the process works on your phone:
- Open Settings.
- Scroll down to Safari.
- Next, select Advanced.
- Click on Website data.
- Finally, select Clear history and website data.
How to Clear Cookies in Microsoft Edge
If you’re using the Edge browser, here’s how to delete your personal site data:
- Open Microsoft Edge.
- Click on More.
- Select Settings.
- Next, scroll down and select Clear browsing data.
- Click on Cookies and saved website data.
- Finally, hit Clear to delete your cookies.
Now you know how to clear cookies from several different browsers. These stored bits of data can be useful, but it’s important to delete them in certain situations, such as if you’re using a public computer or want to stop websites from tracking you. Thankfully, in most cases, deleting them is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse.
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