While cookies may sometimes be useful, they are generally bothersome for two reasons:
They are files that take up memory space on your computer. If you keep enough cookies (especially from websites that you don't use that often), they may slow your computer down.
Some websites and other individuals can access your cookies, which can let them figure out where you've been on the Internet (whether this is their primary intention or not).
So, clearing out your cookies once in a while can speed up your computer and make you harder to track on the Internet. You may have to re-enter some information by hand instead of automatically having it provided for you (such as a website remembering your user name or password so that you can quickly log in), but that's the balance that you have to strike between convenience and privacy.
(NOTE: Getting rid of your cookies won't delete important information from websites that you use, such as your profile or any address or billing information that you've entered, so you can rest easy.)
Below are some quick instructions for how to get rid of cookies in each of the major browsers. Check out our "Extra Resources" section in this course for thorough instructions that include screenshots of the process.
Click the menu icon in the top-right corner (it looks like three horizontal bars), move your mouse cursor over More Tools, and click Clear Browsing Data.
Make sure that the check box beside "Cookies and Other Site and Plugin Data" is marked. If it isn't, click it to mark it.
Click the drop-down menu beside "Obliterate the Following Items From:" and select to cookies from The Past Hour, The Past Day, The Past Week, The Last 4 Weeks, or The Beginning of Time (i.e. delete all cookies currently on your computer).
Click Clear Browsing History.
We explain how to do this in more detail in our How to Clear Cookies on Chrome tutorial.
Click the menu icon in the top-right corner (it looks like three bars stacked on top of each other), click the History button, and then click Clear Recent History when the "History" window appears.
In the new window that pops up, if the check box beside "Cookies" isn't marked, mark it by clicking it.
Click the drop-down menu beside "Time Range to Clear" and choose whether you want to clear your cookies from Last Hour, Last Two Hours, Last Four Hours, Today, or Everything (i.e. delete all cookies).
Click Clear Now.
We'll go over the specifics in our How to Clear Cookies in Firefox tutorial.
Click the "Tools" icon in the top-right corner (it looks like a little gear) to open a drop-down menu. Move your mouse cursor over Safety to open another branch of the drop-down menu, and then click Delete Browsing History.
Ensure that the check box beside "Cookies and Website Data" is marked. This may mean that you have to click it in order to mark it.
If you want to see more information about the process, head over to our How to Delete Cookies in Internet Explorer tutorial.
That's about it for how to clear cookies off of your computer! Next, we'll look at how to enable cookies if you need them in order to make a website run, or disable them to keep your Internet activity from being tracked.
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