Every website stores some information about its visitors and customers in the form of HTTP cookies. These cookies are essential but vulnerable to the users’ privacy, as they store personal information that can be accessed by hackers easily by attacking the cookies. Some cookies are helpful and are completely safe, but some cookies will track you and your Internet activities without your consent and use them without your permission. To ensure complete security, you must clear the cookies frequently to keep unwanted eyes off your Internet activity.
What are Cookies?
Cookies are small files generated by the web server and sent to the requested web browser. These cookies stay on the web browser for a specific time or sometimes stay there until the user session is running for a website. Websites attach the cookies for future requests.
Cookies inform the websites by providing all the necessary information, allowing the website to personalize the user experience based on the user’s history. Besides, some cookies are essential to ensure security, such as authentication cookies. These cookies are stored on the web browsers in a specified file on the user’s device. For example, in the case of Google Chrome, the cookies are stored in the file named “cookies”. Users can see that file by opening developer tools available on the Application tab and selecting cookies.
Below are the steps to find cookies on Google Chrome.
You will get the below screen. Go to the application tab, then look for the cookies option on the left side pane.
The steps may vary from web browser to web browser.
Chrome: Deleting Cookies from Chrome on your Windows or Mac Computer
- If you are using the Chrome browser, open it.
- On opening, the three dots will appear in the top right corner of the browser for the Settings menu.
- Scroll down the menu to the bottom of the page and select the “Advanced” option.
- Go to the section “Clear browsing data”.
- You will see the “All cookies and site data” section that helps you customize and select which cookies to delete based on a specific time range and other available options.
- Click the “Clear data” to delete the cookie. You will also get the option to clear your cache, where the computer stores previously viewed websites.
Chrome: Deleting Cookies from Chrome on your Android Device
For deleting cookies on your Chrome browser on the Android system, you can follow the below-mentioned steps.
- Open the Chrome app on your Android device.
- You will get the “More” option on the right of the address bar or the three-dot option. Select the Settings option.
- Go to the “Privacy” option and clear your browsing data from there.
- From here, you will be able to personalize your selections for deleting specific cookies.
- Then check the “Cookies and site data” option and uncheck other options.
- Then click the “Clear data” option.
Chrome: Deleting Cookies from Chrome on your iOS Device
For deleting cookies on the Chrome browser on your iOS device, follow the below steps.
- Launch the Chrome app on your iOS device.
- You will get the three-dot option on the top right.
- Scroll the options and select Settings.
- You will get a pop-up, go to the Privacy option, and “Clear browsing data”.
- Check the “Cookies, site data”, and uncheck other options.
- Click on “Clear browsing data”, and you are done with deleting the cookies.
Deleting Cookies from UC Browser on your Windows PC
For deleting cookies on the UC browser on your Windows device, follow the below steps.
- Open your UC browser.
- A three horizontal line symbol is available at the top-right corner, click on it and navigate the settings.
- On the left-hand side, you will see the “other” option. Click it.
- Go to the “Privacy” option, and then “Clear Browsing Data” on the right-hand tab.
- Select the data you want to clear, and then click on “Clear Browsing Data” to remove them.
Opera: Deleting Cookies from Opera on your Windows PC
For deleting cookies on the Opera browser on your Windows device, you can follow the below steps.
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Del to open the Clear Browsing Data option.
- Go to “Cookies and site data”.
- Select the “Clear Data” option.
Safari: Deleting Cookies from Safari on macOS Sierra
For deleting cookies on the Safari browser on your macOS Sierra device, follow the below steps.
- Open the Safari browser on the desktop.
- Go to the “Preferences” option available under the dropdown Safari menu.
- Click on “Privacy” and click “Manage Website Data”.
- Click on “Remove all” from the dropdown menu.
Safari: Deleting Cookies from Safari on your iOS Device
For deleting cookies on the Safari browser on your iOS device, follow the below steps.
- Open the Settings menu on your iOS device.
- Scroll down to “Safari”, select the “Advanced” option, and then click on “Website Data”.
- Hit the “Clear History and Website Data” to clear cookies.
Firefox: Deleting Cookies from Firefox on Windows or Mac Computer
For deleting cookies on the Firefox browser on your Windows or Mac device, you can follow the below steps.
- Open Firefox on your computer.
- Go to the menu bars in the upper-right corner. Then go to the privacy tab.
- Select the “Clear Your Recent History”.
- Check the “Cookies” option only and select the time frame you want to delete the cookies. For deleting all the cookies, select “Everything”.
- Cross-check your selections and hit the “Clear Now” option.
Firefox: Deleting Cookies from Firefox on your Android Device
For deleting cookies on the Firefox browser on your Android device, you can follow the below steps. The below steps may vary depending on what Android device you are using a version of Firefox. For some versions, you will get the three-bars menu option at the top-right corner, and in some cases, you need to click the hardware menu key and select more.
- Navigate to the “Settings” menu.
- Search for “Privacy & Security”, and click on the “Clear private data” option.
- You will get a list of what you can clear. Select “Cookies & Active Logins”.
- After making the desired selection, hit the “Clear data” button to delete cookies.
Firefox: Deleting Cookies from Firefox on your iOS Device
For deleting cookies on the Firefox browser on your iOS device, follow the below steps.
- Open Firefox on your iOS device.
- Go to the “Menu Bars” in the lower right-hand corner of the browser window.
- Open the “Settings” option.
- Scroll down to “Privacy”.
- Click the “Clear Private Data”.
- Make sure to select the “Cookies” only and hit on “Clear Private Data”.
What are Cookies Used For?
Cookies are used in various ways. Some of them are mentioned below.
- User sessions: It associates the user with their activity on the website. Cookies contain a unique information string that matches the user session. For instance, if a user logs into any website, its server will generate a session cookie and send it to the user’s browser. That cookie informs the website to load the user’s content. If the user goes through any product on the website, it will send the HTTP request to the website for that product along with the session id. This helps the website recognize the user. So the user does not have to log in the next time.
- Tracking: Sometimes, cookies store information about the websites the user is visiting and details about online activities. So the next time a browser wants to load the content from those specific websites, this information will go to the server that creates the cookie. If there are third-party cookies, the process will take longer to load the website’s content.
Different Types of Cookies
Below are some commonly used cookies, and you must know about them.
- Session cookies allow the website to track the user’s session. These cookies exist till the session is running and ends with it. There is an expiration date for these cookies, signifying to the browser that they will end once the session is over.
- Persistent cookies stay on the web browser for a predetermined time, making them different from the session cookies. These cookies contain their expiration date with them. The time can vary from weeks to years.
- Authentication cookies help manage the user sessions as they are generated whenever a user logs in to a website using a username and password. It is done by associating the information with the cookie identifier string. This ensures that the critical information will be delivered to the authenticated user only.
- Tracking cookies are created by tracking services to record a user’s activity. The browser will send this record to the associated tracking service whenever the user loads a website using that tracking service.
- Zombie cookies regenerate after they are deleted. They create backup versions of themselves outside the storage location. Websites use these backups to reappear within a browser after they are deleted. These cookies are generally used by cyber attackers.
Reasons to Clear Cookies
Many reasons force people to clear cookies from their browsers. We have mentioned the possible reasons for clearing cookies off your device.
- They can be a security threat, as hackers can potentially access the cookies and gain crucial information about the user, and use that information to alter the data.
- They can slow down the server’s performance as cookies add to the file. As you visit many websites, the cookie files keep on increasing, resulting in slow performance.
- They store crucial information, such as purchasing details, usernames, and other personal information. Using cookies, websites can track your online activity and gather more information about you.
- When you use any public or shared system to access your email or personal account, cookies will store your information. So make sure that you delete the cache and cookies immediately after working on them.
Cookies can be beneficial and harmful for every person. They ensure easy and quick access to already-accessed information and can pose a security threat. Many websites want to store your information with cookies, but people do not want to share their information. Thus websites start prompting you to save the cookies. If not, you can decline or customize the settings accordingly.
But, to ensure security and save your online activities, you must delete your browsers’ cookies. The process is very simple. We have explained in detail how you can delete cookies on various browsers and OS as per your requirement.