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How Do I Delete Cookies off my Computer?

Most internet browsers make it fairly simple to delete cookies.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Revised By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Although the exact method used can vary from one web browser to the next, it is typically quite easy to delete cookies from your computer. You can go into the "tools" or "options" menu of your web browser and look at what controls and features it provides. Most of them allow you to simply choose to remove all or some of the cookies on your system and then delete them with the push of a button. Some browsers also let you choose to have them deleted every time you exit the program, or to only keep cookies from certain websites.

How Cookies Work

Cookies are files on a computer that help websites know if you have visited them, what you did while there, and other bits of information that can help them make your experience more enjoyable. You may not want a website to know you were there, however, and so you might not want a trace on your computer of what you did online. In these situations, you should typically delete your cookies; thankfully, most modern web browsers make doing so quite easy.

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Turning Them All Off

One of the easiest ways to eliminate these files is to disable them completely in your web browser, usually through a simple menu. Doing this, however, can result in many websites not working properly. For example, sites with shopping carts often use cookies to track your browsing session, and disabling them may make an online store completely unusable. You might find it preferable to keep them enabled, and delete cookies periodically to remove any unwanted data left on your computer.

Blocking Specific Sites

Some modern browsers actually let you deny third-party cookies selectively, while allowing those from particular websites to remain. You can usually do this through a menu in your web browser, though you may need to go into some "advanced options" to set up specific sites or types of files that are blocked. This lets functions like shopping carts continue working, while also preventing advertisers from tracking your browsing sessions across multiple sites. In many cases, this eliminates the need to delete cookies entirely, but in other situations, you may still want to remove them.

Types of Deletion

Modern web browsers typically allow for both selective and complete deletion. If you remove them selectively, then you can choose cookies from particular sites or services to delete, while keeping others. Total or complete removal eliminates all of them from your computer. You can also typically delete cookies from your computer manually, by going into the folder they are kept in and erasing them.

Internet Explorer®

Recent versions of the Windows® Operating System (OS) use Internet Explorer® as the default web browser. You can easily delete cookies from this browser, if you use a modern Windows® OS, by going into the "Start" menu, selecting the "Control Panel," and then clicking on the "Network and Internet" options. In this menu, you can usually see "Delete Browsing History and Cookies" or a similar option, which then lets you choose what you want to remove from your computer.

Other Web Browsers

In many versions of Firefox®, on the other hand, you can simply go to the "Tools" menu within the program, select "Clear Recent History," and make sure the "Cookies" box is checked. A similar procedure can be followed for Opera®, Chrome®, and other web browsers through their "Tools" or "Options" menus. You can also use special software specifically designed to delete cookies, which can find all of them on your computer and remove them with a single application. Although this may be more than you need, it can simplify removal if you use multiple browsers on a single computer.

Automatic Deletion

In many web browsers, you can choose to have the program delete cookies off your computer every time you close it. This option is usually found in the same menu that lets you manually remove them. By using this, you can keep your computer clean without taking the time to delete the files yourself. You can also set up many browsers to keep files for a particular period of time, such as two weeks, and then delete them automatically.

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Discuss this Article

anon280011
Post 11

I need help cleaning cookies, and my computer is slow.

anon260366
Post 10

I have a question about cookies disappearing when I did not delete them. My laptop screen wouldn't come up when I opened it, so I took out the battery and disconnected power supply. I reinserted battery and opened the laptop, with everything working. But every cookie was gone. I had to login again to email, everything. Are cookies related to the battery?

RCharles
Post 9

A while back I visited a Wachovia bank web site and allowed a cookie to be set. Since then I have deleted all cookies and mostly run with cookies off. Occasionally I turn cookies on for a financial transaction. Within a minute or two of turning cookies on, Wachovia asks to place a cookie, even though I haven't been back there in months.

Question: How is the new request being generated: is this something still in my computer that detects cookies are on and notifies Wachovia? Or is there some external process that detects cookies are on and notifies Wachovia? I'd like to permanently stop the subsequent cookie requests.

Note: The cookie request window can't be copied/pasted but I've captured an image of it.

anon158794
Post 8

It's so simple. All you have to do is go to options on the tool bar and press delete recent history! and then put the time range at "everything" and make sure "cookies" is checked then press ok.

anon92043
Post 7

Awesome! Put in to English! Thank you so much! Now if I can just figure out if that clears all of my history, also? Thanks again!

anon90769
Post 6

My understanding is that if cookies pile up, it slows down the computer. That is what I thought was the reason that people have cautioned to periodically clear them.

But to be perfectly honest, until I read the above information on this site, I really didn't know what cookies were and I could not figure out how to delete them. I want to say bravo to the people responsible for this site - you were good enough to clearly explain what cookies are (I'm amazed when I think about how complicated people made it sound) and how to clean them up and there was no clicking on one thing after another or any of the other bull.

This was a great site - you gave me exactly what I wanted. A clear answer to a clear question. Again, bravo.

sikkim
Post 5

to #3

Thanks for the tip on getting a cookie-cleaning extension. It was so annoying to move through all the menus to get rid of my cookies - now I can do it in a single click. I am an avid user of browser extensions, but I never thought of getting an extension for cookie management. Thanks!

dobrinj
Post 4

to #1

I think it is a good practice to remove cookies periodically, but I don't think that anyone should be "worried" about them.

Cookies can be used to track your behavior on certain websites. Large advertising networks who have their code on many websites around the internet, are able to track your browsing behavior across many sites.

In general, they cannot tie your browsing behavior with you, in particular... in other words you are just an anonymous user who has visited a particular set of sites.

Whenever you remove the cookies from your computer, you prevent sites from tying your previous browsing session with any future sessions.

concordski
Post 3

My favorite way to get rid of cookies, is to get a browser extension (firefox and chrome both support extensions). There are many that allow you to remove cookies with a single click from your navigation toolbar.

A single click on the button can be configured to clean your cookies, delete your history, and also remove any temporary files that are stored on your computer.

lil_moon
Post 1

Is there really any reason to be worried about cookies? I delete them periodically, but I'm not generally paranoid about this kind of information, so I wonder if it's worth the effort. Cookies don't slow down a computer or cause problems like that, do they?

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