How-To Geek

How to Delete Cookies in the Most Popular Web Browsers on Windows

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Cookies are small files that websites put on your computer to store small bits of information. A cookie can keep you logged into a website by writing ID information to a cookie file. Cookies can also be used to store the items in your shopping cart.

However, not all cookies are used for benign purposes. A lot of cookies are used to track your online activity. Ad servers send cookies along with ads to identify viewers and track their habits. This information is used to build profiles of us as viewers that can be used to push relevant ad content at us whether we like it or not. Some of these tracking cookies may be able to actually tie your online activities to your real-world identity.

Managing cookies is part of a set of simple actions you can take to protect your information and your privacy. You can also easily clear the history of visited websites that each browser tracks if you don’t want other users of your computer to see your online activities. Here’s how to delete cookies in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Opera.

NOTE: When deleting cookies in any of these browsers, you will not see a confirmation dialog box asking you if you’re sure you want to delete all the cookies, so, make sure you do want to delete all of them. Remember, some cookies are useful in storing information for sites you visit often. Deleting cookies and website data will cause you to have to sign in again or enter information again on those sites.

Google Chrome

To manage cookies in Chrome, click the Chrome menu button (three horizontal bars) and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.

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The Settings screen displays on a new tab. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Show advanced settings”.

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In the Privacy section, click “Content settings”.

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The Content Settings dialog box displays. In the Cookies section, click “All cookies and site data”.

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The Cookies and site data dialog box displays, showing you how many cookies have been saved for each site that saved cookies on your computer. Each site has buttons representing each of the cookies (the Channel ID is a channel-bound cookie) for the site. To delete an individual cookie from a site, click one of the buttons and then click “Remove”. For example, we clicked the “id” button for the doubleclick.net site, a common advertising network. Details about the cookie display, including when the cookie expires.

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To delete all the cookies from that site, click the “X” button to the right.

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To remove all the cookies for all the websites in the list, click “Remove All”.

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When you’re finished deleting cookies, click “Done” on the Cookies and site data dialog box and again on the Content settings dialog box.

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If you know you want to delete all cookies and website data, not individually, there’s a quick way to do this. On the Settings tab, click “Clear browsing data” under Privacy.

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On the Clear browsing data dialog box, make sure the “Cookies and other site and plugin data” box is checked. You can also specify a time frame for which you want to delete the cookies from the drop-down list at the top of the dialog box. You can select from the past hour, the past day, the past week, the last 4 weeks, or the beginning of time. Once you’re ready to delete all your cookies, click “Clear browsing data”.

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Mozilla Firefox

To manage cookies in Firefox, open the main Firefox menu (three horizontal bars) and click “Options”.

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The Options open on a new tab. Click Privacy in the list of items on the left side of the tab.

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There are two ways to access the cookies saved on your computer, depending on which option is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list. If “Remember History” is selected, click the “remove individual cookies” link.

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If “Use Custom Settings for History” is selected in the dropdown list, click the “Show Cookies” button on the right.

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The Cookies dialog box displays showing a list of all the websites that have put cookies on your computer. Click the arrow next to a site name to view a list of the individual cookies placed by that site. To delete an individual cookie, select the cookie in the list, and click “Remove Selected”.

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To delete all cookies for a specific website, select the website folder and click “Remove Selected”.

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To delete all cookies for all websites in the list, click “Remove All”.

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When you are finished managing your cookies, click Close to close the Cookies dialog box.

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You are returned to the Options tab. Just like in Chrome, there is a quicker way to delete all cookies, too. Make sure the Privacy screen is active on the Options tab and click the “clear your recent history” link under History. This option is only available for the “Remember History” option, not when “Use Custom Settings for History” is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list.

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If the “Never Remember History” option is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list, the “clear all current history” link is available. The Never Remember History option causes Firefox to restart in private browsing mode.

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Clicking either “clear your recent history” or “clear all current history” opens the Clear All History dialog box. Here you can select a Time range to clear.

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Then, make sure the Cookies box is checked and then, click “Clear Now”.

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Internet Explorer

To manage cookies in Internet Explorer, click the gear button in the upper-right corner of the browser window and select “Internet options” from the drop-down menu.

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The Internet Options dialog box displays. To view and delete individual cookies, click “Settings” in the Browsing history section.

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The Website Data Settings dialog box displays. Make sure the Temporary Internet Files tab is active and click “View files”.

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Windows Explorer opens displaying the contents of the INetCache folder. By default, the files are displayed as tiles, but we need to display the details for the files so we can see the types of files. To display the details for the files, click the down arrow on the “More options” button above the list of files.

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Select “Details” from the popup menu.

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Scroll down until you find files labeled as cookies. They should have “cookie” in the Name and Internet Address. You can select one or more cookie files and delete them either by right-clicking on them and selecting “Delete”, as shown below, or by pressing the Delete key. To permanently delete them, hold down the Shift key while you press Delete.

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A confirmation dialog box displays. Click “Yes” if you’re sure you want to delete the selected cookie(s).

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Once you’re finished deleting individual cookies, you can close the File Explorer window by clicking the “Close” button in the upper-right corner of the window.

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To delete all your cookies, first close the Website Data Settings dialog box by clicking either “OK” or “Cancel”.

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This brings you back to the Internet Options dialog box. Click “Delete” in the Browsing history section.

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To delete all the cookies and website data, check the “Cookies and website data” check box on the Delete Browsing History dialog box. Select any other desired options and click “Delete” to remove the selected items.

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You are returned to the Internet Options dialog box. Click “OK” to close it.

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A popup message displays at the bottom of the IE window telling you that the selected browsing history has been deleted. There’s an “X” button on the far right of the popup window you can click to close the message.

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Microsoft Edge

Before we go into how to manage cookies in Microsoft Edge, we’d like to point out a major limitation of Edge. You cannot manage cookies by site or individual cookies, like you can in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. All you can do is delete all cookies and saved website data.

That said, here’s how to delete cookies and website data in Microsoft Edge. Click the More menu button (three horizontal buttons) and select “Settings” from the menu.

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Under Clear browsing data, click Choose what to clear.

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On the Clear browsing data pane, make sure the “Cookies and saved website data” box is checked and then click “Clear”.

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A brief message displays at the top of the pane while the information is being deleted and again once the deletion is complete.

Opera

To manage cookies in Opera, select “Settings” from the Opera Menu.

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The Settings screen opens on a new tab. Click “Privacy & Security” in the list of items on the left.

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To delete individual cookies from certain sites, scroll down to the Cookies section and click “All cookies and site data”.

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The Cookies and site data dialog box displays showing you how many cookies have been saved for each site that saved cookies on your computer. This will look familiar if you followed our instructions earlier for deleting cookies in Chrome. The process of deleting individual cookies in Opera is very similar to Chrome. Just like in Chrome, each site has buttons representing each of the cookies (the Channel ID is a channel-bound cookie) for the site. To delete an individual cookie from a site, click one of the buttons and then click “Delete”. For example, we clicked the “id” button for the doubleclick.net site, a common advertising network. Details about the cookie display, including when the cookie expires. To remove this cookie, click “Delete”.

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To delete all the cookies from that site, click the “X” button to the right.

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To delete all the cookies for all the websites in the list, click “Delete All”.

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When you’re finished deleting cookies, click “Done” on the Cookies and site data dialog box.

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If you know you want to delete all cookies and website data, not individually, there’s a quick way to do this. Scroll back up on the Settings tab, and click “Clear browsing data” under Privacy.

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On the Clear browsing data dialog box, make sure the “Cookies and other site data” box is checked. You can also specify a time frame for which you want to delete the cookies from the drop-down list at the top of the dialog box. You can select from the past hour, the past day, the past week, the last 4 weeks, or the beginning of time. Once you’re ready to delete all your cookies, click “Clear browsing data”.

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If you have some sites you trust and want to have the convenience being able to log in quickly, you might want to delete only specific, individual cookies for certain websites and preserve cookies for sites with which you regularly interact. Sometimes cookies are placed on your computer by websites other than the one you are visiting. These are called third-party cookies. Some third-party cookies are alright and don’t give cause for concern. But, a lot of third-party cookies are from advertisers and allow them to track your visits to other websites. You can easily block third-party cookies in the major browsers.

You may think you’ve gotten rid of all your cookies by following the procedures in this article. However, there is another type of cookie, called a Flash cookie, or a Local Shared Object (LSO), that you should also delete to stop websites from secretly tracking you.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 06/16/16
  • All Things Firefox

    In Firefox, you can quickly access the cookies dialogue box by bookmarking chrome://browser/content/preferences/cookies.xulYou can also clear recent history by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Del.

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