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How do I delete cookies in Chrome? And why would I do that?

Delete cookies in Chrome
Clear out: make the cookies crumble

“Have you cleared your cookies?” – you might have heard that phrase when talking to a tech support desk if you’re having problems accessing a website. But what are cookies? What does clearing them do? And how do you delete cookies in Chrome, the world’s most used browser?

What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data left behind on your computer by the websites that you visit. They should probably be called crumbs.

Information stored in a cookie might include your username for that site, saving you from having to retype it every time you visit.

A cookie might store your preferred language or location, so that when you revisit Apple’s website, for instance, it knows to direct you to www.apple.com/uk instead of the US homepage. 

There are other, more nefarious, uses for cookies. Airline sites are notorious for storing cookies on your PC that log the flights you were looking at. On your next visit, the flight becomes more expensive as (a) the airline knows you’re definitely interested in that ticket and sees an opportunity to charge you more, and (b) wants to condition you to purchase tickets as soon as you see them. At least, that’s the theory. Several pieces of research have cast doubt on whether airlines really do use cookies for such purposes. 

Why would you want to clear cookies?

On the whole, we’d say cookies are normally designed to make your life easier than more difficult, but there are occasions where you might want to clear them out. 

Cookies can store information such as items you were looking at on a website, for example, so that when you revisit the page, you’re shown ‘items based on your browsing history’ or some such. If that’s the secret holiday you’ve booked for your wife’s 40th, you might not want to tip her the wink.

As we alluded to at the top, corrupted cookies can also break the functionality on some websites or stop you logging in or out. You might need to clear cookies to make a web service function properly once more. 

How to delete cookies in Chrome

To delete cookies in Chrome, click on the browser’s menu (the three dots in the top-right corner) and select Settings. 

Scroll down to the bottom of that page and click the arrow next to Advanced. (Clearing cookies isn’t really an ‘advanced’ setting, more an indication of how much Google and its advertisers rely on them and how little Google wants you to delete them.)

Keep scrolling down until you see the option to Clear Browser Data under Privacy and Security.

Click that and you’ll see cookies listed under the items that you can tick to delete. As Google warns, deleting cookies will sign you out of most sites (such as Amazon, Gmail etc) and force you to re-login on your next visit.

If you just want to clear cookies from a site you visited recently, click the Advanced tab in that window and you can select a timeframe, such as only clearing the cookies stored within the past hour.

Delete cookies in Chrome

Once you’ve selected the data you wish to banish, click “Clear data” and the job will be done in a nanosecond.

Now read this: Why am I seeing tiny text in Google Chrome?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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