Internet cookies, also commonly known as Browser Cookies or HTTP Cookies are the piece of information that a website saves on your computer. Different web browsers have different instruction for deleting cookies. But before we see how to clear cookies, it’s important to understand what are cookies, types and why you need to clear cookies on a regular basis.
Cookies are nothing more than some bits of text that a site collects on your computer to identify you whenever you visit that particular website next time.
Internet cookies are helpful especially for e-commerce websites since they help in remembering your cart and purchases. But cookies might pose security issues, which makes it essential for users to delete them on a regular basis.
- Suggested read: How to Clear Cache in Different Browsers on Desktop & Mobile?
What are Cookies?
Internet cookies are the text files that your web browser stores on local memory or disk of any smart device or computer. The browser cookies contain small information which is helpful for any website when it visited time and again.
The information could be something like a user ID or a session ID. If a website saves cookies in your system, then only that particular website can access it. No other sites can obtain this information as they belong to some other websites.
The best real-time example of cookies is the online shopping websites or the e-commerce stores. We all do online shopping nowadays, but have you ever give it a thought that how the site remembers the items you last viewed or the items in your cart or wish lists? Well, the answer to this question is cookies.
How Cookies Work?
All the cookies are stored in your computer system and are managed by your web browser. You can easily find the list of websites that have stored the cookies on your web browser and can also have a look at the cookies.
All browsers have their list of cookies. If you use multiple browsers for internet surfing, then each one of that browser will have their separate cookie list.
As we have already discussed, a website is only able to access the cookies that it has saved and has no access to the cookies saved by the other sites. This point is critical here as if this is not the case; then it would have compromised the security of the user’s accounts on various websites.
Websites match the information present in the cookies to validate the identification of the user and thus plays a vital role in browsing. Cookies can do the following mentioned tasks –
- It enables customer logins
- It retains customer information like – payment methods, card numbers, address, etc. (in case of shopping websites)
- Improves product recommendations
- Retains your wish lists
- Retains your shopping cart
- Search related advertisements, etc.
Example – Going with the above example – when you visit some online shopping store for the first time and register yourself, then the website saves the cookies on your computer system.
From now onwards, whenever you visit that website again, it will identify you using the cookie, and as it recognizes you, it will retain all the item details that you last viewed or added to your cart.
Types of Cookies
Cookies are divided into two categories as session cookies and persistent cookies.
These are the type of cookies which saves the session ID type of information into your browser. They don’t have a fixed lifespan. These types of cookies will stay in the browser until the session is ongoing.
When the browser has been closed, the cookies will be destroyed. Now when you re-open the browser and re-visit that particular website, it will consider you as a new visitor, and you have to enter your login credentials every time you do so.
Persistent cookies are the ones which have some designated lifespan and have nothing to do with the session. These are the type of cookies which will remain in the browser until their period elapse, or it is deleted by the user manually.
In this case, even if you close the browser, the website will remember you and will not treat you as a new visitor. Also, it will not ask for the login credentials, until you have not logged out, before closing the browser.
Pros of Cookies
- It helps the website in remembering and identifying you
- It stores the login state of the user
- You will not be able to change settings and make them persist in between page loadings unless you have cookies
- It helps websites in delivering personal content
- Cookies also retain your information
Cons of Cookies
There are tracking cookies, which keeps on following you all across the web. Advertising networks use tracking scripts which saves a cookie in your browser, and whenever you visit any website that is also using tracking scripts, it will get to know that the same person has visited both the sites.
This tracking cookie also leads to the advertising the similar or recommended products, that you have searched for, on the websites which has nothing to do with it.
You must have noticed some educational website displaying the advertisements of the similar kind of boots that you have been searching for since last few days.
How to clear cookies in different browsers on desktop systems?
Steps to clear cookies on the desktop system are different than mobile browsers.
- Open Google Chrome web browser
- Go on to the menu icon (three vertical dots on the top right side) and click on Settings
- Click on the bottom link – Show Advanced Settings
- Go to the Privacy Section
- Click on the Content Settings button
- Go to the Cookies section
- Select All Cookies and Site Data
- Click on the Remove All button (for deleting all the cookies)
- Move the cursor to the website and click on the “X” at the right corner (for deleting specific cookies)
Alternatively, you can hit a combination of keys on computer keypad as Ctrl+Shift+Del (on Windows) or command+shift+delete (on macOS) for opening the clear browsing data window directly.
Deleting Cookies in Internet Explorer 11
- Open Internet Explorer
- Go at the top right corner and click Settings
- Choose Options
- Now under History, click Select
- Now select the cookies by clicking the checkboxes
- Then Click on the Delete button
Deleting Cookies in Internet Explorer 9.0
- Open the browser
- Go to the Tools from the menu bar at the top right
- Select the Internet Options from the drop-down
- Select the General tab
- Under Browsing History, click on Delete button
Deleting Cookies Internet Explorer 8.0
- Open the browser
- Select the Tools from the menu bar
- Select the Internet Options from the drop-down that appeared
- Click the Privacy tab at the top
- Select Sites
- Wait for a new window to get open
- The new window will be called as Per Site Privacy Actions
- Check out the list of all the websites that you have visited under the Managed Website box
- Click on the Remove All button
Deleting Cookies in Safari
- Open the Safari web browser
- Go to the menu button on the top left corner
- Click on Safari and open Preferences
- Select Privacy tab
- Click on the Manage Website Data
- Click on the Remove All button at the bottom left (for deleting all the cookies)
- Select the website cookies and click on the Remove button on the left bottom corner (for deleting specific cookies)
- Open the web browser
- From the menu bar, click History
- Select Clear Recent History
- Select the Cookies option
- Click the Clear Now
Alternatively, you can hover menu and click on Firefox and open preferences tab. Here open privacy and security section. Now you can see the link to remove individual cookies.
How to clear cookies in mobile browsers?
- Launch Settings app on your iOS device
- Scroll down and find Safari. Tap it
- Now scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data
- Reconfirm it and relaunch the safari browser to notice the change
Google Chrome on iOS platform
- Open Google Chrome app.
- Click menu at the top right most corner (three vertical dots)
- Tap Settings
- Click Privacy option
- Now tap Clear Browsing Data
- Choose Cookies, Site Data
- Click Clear Browsing Data
- Press Done at the top right of the screen
Android device (Steps might vary on different models)
- Launch settings app and look for Application manager and tap it
- Now scroll and tap your choice browser
- Tap Clear Cache option (It will delete all cache memory)
- Now close all browser window completely and reopen them once again
Google Chrome on Android
- Open Chrome menu from the top right corner (three vertical dots) and tap Settings
- Tap Privacy under the Advanced menu
- Now look for Clear Browsing Data and open it
- Choose Cookies, Site Data
- Now tap Clear data
Final words on how to clear cookies
It is essential to know the implication of saved cookies. Next time if you go online shopping or even booking online air tickets, use browser incognito mode or make sure to clear cookies every time you visit multiple websites. Remember, someone might be tracking you.