Delete cookies?! We don’t want you to remove actual cookies, of course — no one wants to get rid of those treats. We’re talking about the far less sweet cookies that you get when you browse, the ones that can track what you do online and save your data. Like real cookies, having a few here and there is fine, but if you let them pile up, you’re going to find yourself bloated, slow, and possibly at risk.
Which is why every once in a while, it does you some good to clean them out. And we at AVG will help you do just that: remove cookies on every device you browse with.
Before we get into the dirty deleting details, keep reading to learn more about what cookies are, how exactly they’re used, and why you should delete them.
Or you can skip ahead now to our instructions for clearing cookies on your preferred browser:
- How to delete cookies on desktop Chrome
- How to delete cookies on mobile Chrome
- How to delete cookies in desktop Firefox
- How to delete cookies in mobile Firefox
- How to delete cookies in Safari
- How to delete cookies in Microsoft Edge
- How to delete cookies in Opera
- How to delete cookies in AVG Secure Browser
Wait — first, what are cookies?
Cookies are an essential part of the browsing experience, for better or for worse.
There are lots of different kinds of cookies:
- Session cookies only last as long as you’re on a specific website, and they follow what you do (we’re even using session cookies now to see which articles you’re reading).
- Authentication cookies remember who you are and what your credentials are, and will either deny or grant you access to parts of a site.
- Tracking cookies cling to your browser, following everything you do, recording your actions, and slowing down your browsing. And those are the bad boys we really want to get rid of whenever we clean our browser.
So why clear my cookies?
Lots of reasons.
The most immediate reason is that clearing cookies improves your computer’s memory and browser performance. A cookie by itself is pretty small, only a few KB at most, but the longer you browse, the more cookies you accumulate — and those few KB add up in a hurry. When too many build up, not only will they slow down your browser, but they could take up a pretty large chunk of your PC’s RAM. So as a simple matter of performance, it’s good to clear out cookies every once in a while.
But there are other reasons, too. Tracking cookies, which we listed above, have this irritating habit of sticking to your browser and following you wherever you go, hence the name. They give that data to websites and advertisers to serve you specific ads. So it’s good to get rid of them to avoid tailored content, price hikes (this is why they say you should buy plane tickets in private windows), and to protect your online privacy. After all, even if you don’t care about advertisers knowing what you like, if that data is ever leaked (which unfortunately happens often), some seriously bad dudes could use your browsing habits against you.
That said, there are reasons not to clear your cookies. For example, if you’re in the middle of a lengthy shopping session, clearing your cookies will mean losing what’s in your shopping cart… or automatically logging you out of your account. As another example, if you’re filling out an important document online, you’re going to want your cookies around, because the cookies are what save your answers.
Still, once you’re not doing anything important, it’s good to start cleaning out your cookies.
(And while you’re in the cleaning mood, you might also want to clear out temporary files from your computer to improve speed and performance.)
How to delete cookies on Chrome
Before we start clearing cookies left and right, let’s take a moment to look at what our options are. Google Chrome comes with a nifty little Cookie Settings page where you can decide exactly what kind of cookies you want to deal with. So let’s visit that first.
- Open up Chrome.
- Click the three dots in the upper-right hand corner.
- Then select Settings.
- Once you’re in Settings, on the left-side menu, click Advanced.
- In the Advanced menu, click on Privacy and security, and then select Site Settings.
- Under Permissions, select Cookies and site data.
From this page, you can do all kinds of magical stuff. Let’s go over your options.
- Allow sites to see and read cookie data: As we described earlier, cookie data is both good and bad, and necessary for many websites to even function. So defaulting straight to the nuclear option would be a bit much. We recommend you keep this turned on.
- Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome: Turning this on means Chrome will delete the data you acquired during the current browsing session when you close your browser, which for some people would be a big inconvenience. Still, it’s better than disabling cookies entirely, so consider this if you’re really keen on privacy and performance.
- Block third-party cookies: Third-party cookies include the ones used by advertisers and the like to track your steps online and see what kind of stuff you do. There’s no real downside to blocking them, so we strongly recommend you turn this on.
But if you want to take a more hands-on approach, you’ll see there are other options for your consideration. Block lets you block all the cookies from websites you designate, Clear on exit will mean any cookies that a specific site you designate used will be erased when you leave that site, and in the case that you’ve blocked all cookies, Allow will let you make an exception of specific sites.
And of course, there’s the See all cookies and site data option, which is pretty much what’s written on the tin. Select that, and you can see all the cookies Chrome currently has, and you can feel free to peruse, examine, and of course, delete however many you wish — all you have to do is click the trash bin to the right. And if you want to delete everything, Remove all at the top is all you need.
That being said, there’s actually an easier way to delete cookies.
- Click the three dots in the upper-right hand corner.
- Click on Settings.
- On the Settings page, select the Advanced menu on the left side. Under that, click on Privacy and security, and select Clear browsing data in the middle.
- A popup will appear. Change the dropdown menu to All time and make sure the box next to Cookies and other site data is checked.
- Select Clear data and you’re good to go.
Can I clear cookies on Chrome for mobile?
Sure, of course!
- Get on the Google Chrome mobile app.
- Click the three dots in the right corner and then select History.
- When the next window opens, tap Clear browsing data…
Change the time range to All time.
- Make sure Cookies and site data has a checkmark next to it, and then tap Clear data.
How to delete cookies in Firefox
Just like Chrome, Firefox will let you decide how it should deal with cookies, on top of giving you the ability to erase them completely. Let’s go over that first.
- Open up Firefox.
- Click the three dashes at the right end of your toolbar.
- Select Preferences (or Options, depending on what version of Firefox you have) and then on the far left click Privacy & Security.
- Here, you’ll have options to delete cookies and manage your settings. Under Cookies and Site Data, you can click Clear Data… to get rid of cookies now. But also let’s take a look at the Enhanced Tracking Protection section to manage your preferences.
Here’s where you’ll find everything Firefox has to offer to help you control your cookie diet (and other tracking methods, too).
- Select the Custom button and tick the box for Cookies. Now you can choose exactly which cookies will be blocked — remember, if you block all cookies, then many sites won’t work properly. We recommend at least blocking Cross-site and social media trackers.
- Below, you also have the option to enhance your privacy by blocking Tracking content, Cryptominers, and Fingerprinters, if you like.
There you go. Now you have near-complete control over how Firefox handles your cookies. But even with Firefox fine-tuned, you still need to manage the cookies you already have. So…
- In the menu bar, select History.
- Click Clear Recent History.
- Make sure Cookies are checked, and the pull-down menu at the top says Everything.
- Select Clear Now and you’re done!
What about Firefox on my phone?
Don’t worry: we’ve got you.
- Crack open that app.
- Tap those three bars in the corner and tap Settings.
- Scroll down and select Clear private data.
- A menu will pop up. Make sure Cookies and active logins is selected, and then tap CLEAR DATA.
If you want to also manage your general cookie settings, head back to the Settings page and select Privacy.
- On the Privacy menu, choose Cookies.
- Choose the cookie settings you want — we recommend enabling cookies, except for tracking cookies.
The other browsers
Shockingly, there are other browsers out there besides Firefox and Chrome, and they also have a cookie buildup problem. Typically, no matter which browser you use, you can type in Ctrl+Shift+Del (or Command+Shift+Del for Macs) to open up the privacy menu that will let you delete your cookies. But if you’re keen on doing things the hard way…
Safari only stores cookies from the websites you visit. It automatically blocks those irritating third-party cookies that cause all the problems. Still, it’s good to clear it out every once in a while. Safari also comes with a Do Not Track feature, which means Safari will ask websites not to track you, but most websites ignore it so it’s not really worth your time.
- Open up Safari.
- Select the Safari button on the menu bar, and scroll down to Preferences.
- A new menu should have popped up. Find Privacy at the top and click it.
- Select Manage Website Data…
- It’ll show you all your cookies. Click Remove all at the bottom.
- You’re done!
If you’re here looking for Internet Explorer, you really need to update your browser. Out-of-date software is a security risk, don’t forget!
- Open up Microsoft Edge.
- Select the three bars on the right side of the web address field.
- Click the clock-arrow thing. It’s the third to the right.
- Select Clear all history.
- Make sure Cookies and saved website data is checked, then click Clear.
- Open up Opera.
- Select the Opera menu on the upper-left side of the screen.
- Hover over Settings, then in the menu click Delete Private Data.
- Make sure both Delete session cookies and Delete all cookies are selected, then click the Delete button at the bottom.
- Opera also lets you see and delete individual cookies if you want. Just click Manage Cookies at the bottom of the same menu.
AVG Secure Browser
If you’re concerned about privacy and tracking cookies, you might be interested to know that AVG Secure Browser prevents tracking right from the start. Still, other types of cookies can still pile up, so here’s how to clear them out:
- Open it up, for starters.
- Click the three dots in the upper-right of the screen, then select History.
- A new tab will open up. Go to the upper-right and click the Clear browsing data… button.
- Another new tab will open, and a popup. Change the top down menu to The beginning of time and make sure the box next to Cookies and other site data is checked.
- Choose Clear browsing data and you’re done.
Isn’t there an easier way to do this?
Funny you should ask. As it so happens, AVG has a nifty little tool that can help you clean your cookies automatically and easily, without all this mess. We call it AVG TuneUp, and not only will it clear out your cookies, it’ll also do other tidying tasks to help your computer run its very best and optimize your memory. You can download it and try a free scan by clicking on the link below.
And that’s everything! You’ve cleaned out all the cookies on your browsing devices. Good on ya. Just don’t wait until next spring to do it again!