Clearing Browser History

How to Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies

Why you should consider deleting these little tidbits of digital info

In computer terms, cookies don’t come in flavors, and you can’t spend cache (pronounced cash), but they’re both things you want to get rid of on a regular basis.

Whenever you open a program or a webpage, little bits of information go into a section of your computer’s memory—this is called cache. The basic purpose of cache memory is to store frequently used program instructions so they can be quickly accessed to make using programs and browsing the internet easier and faster.

Cookies are also saved on your hard drive, which represent the settings selected by you. For example, if you select the “remember me” option on a website login, the cookie will store your login information on your computer so you don’t have to fill it out every time you visit the website. Any time a website asks you to fill in a form or select preferences, chances are, you are creating a cookie.

So why is it sometimes a problem to keep the cache and cookies around?

The most important reason is privacy. Cache and cookies can give hackers access to personal information, such as the passwords and credit card information you entered in an online shopping cart. The second issue is memory; saving these bits of information takes up space on your hard drive. Finally, if cache isn’t cleared, it could cause problems calling up websites.

Developers change and update websites over time. When a site is updated, the files saved in the cache might conflict with what’s actually coded into the current website.

The drawback to clearing this information is that your saved usernames and passwords will also be deleted so you will have to re-enter them the next time you visit that website. However, this minor inconvenience is outweighed by keeping your personal information secure.

Woman using a laptop at home

It’s easy to clear the information from your computer
Most browsers work in a similar way, but here are the major browsers and how to clear cache and delete cookies for each.

Chrome
To clear cache (browser history):

+ Click on the More button, in the upper right corner.
+ Go to History, and select History.
+ Click on the Clear browsing data, in the left-side column.
+ Check the Cookies and other site data
+ Click the Clear data button on the bottom right

Note: Explore the Basic and Advanced tabs for more detailed data removal, including passwords and sign-in data and autofill form data.

To clear or delete existing cookies and to disable cookies:

+ Go to the Chrome menu icon and click ‘Settings’
+ Click on Show advanced settings at the bottom.
+ In the Privacy section, click the Content settings button.
+ In the Cookies section, Click on All cookies and site data
+ To Delete all cookies, click the Remove all button.

Safari

+ Click on the Safari drop-down menu and select Preferences.
+ Click the Advanced tab. Select the Show Develop menu in the menu bar checkbox and close the Preferences window.
+ Select the Develop drop-down menu. Click Empty Cache.

Note: You may want to also clear your browser history.

To delete cookies and save data on a Mac:

+ Select Preferences from the Safari menu or hold down the Command key and the comma key at the same time (Command+,).
+ Go to the Privacy tab.
+ Click the Remove All Website Data button to remove all stored website data.

Firefox

+ From the History menu, select Clear Recent History
If the menu bar is hidden, press the Alt key to make it visible.
+ From the Time Range to Clear drop-down menu, select the desired range; to clear your entire cache, select Everything.
+ Next to Details, click the down arrow to choose which elements of the history to clear; to clear your entire cache, select all items.
+ Click Clear Now.

To clear all cookies, site data and cache:

+ Click the menu button. and select Options. Preferences.
+ Select the Privacy & Security panel and go to the Cookies and Site Data section.
+ Click the Clear Data button. The Clear Data dialog will appear.
+ Click Clear.

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