How to Clear Cookies from Your Phone (and Why You Should)
Every website you ever visit takes up space on your phone in the form of cookies and cache.
You’ve likely heard of cookies when it comes to your phone and computer, but do you know what those terms mean? Or how to clear your cookies and why it’s important? You’ll also want to know the times you should never accept cookies.
Why it’s important to clear cookies and cache on mobile phones
What are cookies used for?
Cookies are text files used to store information about you, such as a username and password, preferred settings, web activity, and more. “Cookies are used for your own convenience, for tracking, and for personalization,” says Gabe Turner, chief editor of Secutiry.org. Examples of cookies include your login information, subject preferences on a news site (including if you’ll see business or sports loaded first), and your browsing history at your favorite online stores. Cookies also connect with targeted ads.
Your cache, on the other hand, stores page resources, including images, with the goal of reducing load time and improving user experience. “These bits of information are stored on your device to improve a website’s performance,” says Andrew Jackson, tech expert from SellCell.com. “So if you previously visited a website and downloaded these files before, the browser doesn’t have to download them again, which makes the page upload faster.”
Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more tech, cleaning, travel, humor and fun facts all week long.
What does clearing your cache do?
- Improved browsing speed. There are a lot of easy ways to speed up your phone, clearing cookies and cache is just one of them.
- Privacy. Cookies store your personally identifiable information and it’s especially important to clear them if you’re using a shared device, says Gabe Turner, chief editor of Secutiry.org.
- Security. “If hackers can access the cookies, then they have a lot of your information, which can be used for identity theft,” Turner says. Here’s how to tell if your phone has been hacked.
How often should you clear your cache?
How often you clear your cache depends on how heavy a user you are and how much storage space you have to spare, according to Jackson. “When most of your storage space and memory is taken up, you’ll notice a degradation in performance,” he explains. When and if that happens, you should clear your cache. If you aren’t short on storage, you may not need to do it regularly.
It’s also important to keep in mind that every time you clear cookies, you’ll be clearing all your saved passwords—which means you’ll have to enter them again the next time you visit your favorite websites. (P.S.—here’s how to block websites on Chrome).
How to clear cookies on iPhone
iPhones use Safari as their default browser. To clear cookies: Go to Settings —> Safari —> Clear History and Website Data. When “Clear History and Data” pops up, tap it to confirm. This won’t delete information stored on AutoFill. But take note, when you do this, this action will close all of your open Safari tabs.
To view how much data a specific website uses and/or delete your history, go to Settings —> Safari —> Advanced —> Website Data. To delete data from a specific site, tap “Edit” in the top right corner, then click the red circle next to the specific site then tap the red “Delete” button when it pops up. Alternatively, to clear all website data at once, click the bar at the “Remove All Website Data” bar at the bottom of the screen. You may also want to know how to hide text messages on your iPhone.
If you don’t want your iPhone to store cookies at all go to Settings —> Safari —> Block All Cookies.
Keep in mind, doing this may prohibit you from visiting websites that require cookies in the future.
Clearing your cache is completed the same way you clear your cookies: Go to Settings —> Safari —> Clear History and Website Data. When “Clear History and Data” pops up, tap it to confirm. And, as with clearing your cookies, this action will close all of your open Safari tabs when completed.
How to clear cookies on Android
Clearing cookies and cache on Chrome
Androids use Google Chrome as their default browser.
In Google Chrome, click the three vertically aligned dots on the top right of the screen —> History —> Clear browsing data. Check the box next to the items you wish to delete: Browsing history, Cookies and site data, and/or cached images and files. Tap the upside-down triangle next to “All time” to set the timeframe you wish to delete; your choices range from the last hour to all time. Finally, tap the “Clear data” button to complete the process.
To block cookies in Chrome on an Android phone, click the three vertically aligned dots on the top right of the screen —> More —> Settings —> Site settings —> Tap the “Cookies” switch to off.
Clearing cache on third-party apps
Unfortunately, there’s no way to clear the cache of all third-party apps at once. In addition, “not all third-party apps allow you to clear your cache, so you’ll need to check app by app,” Turner says.
To clear the cache of individual apps, go to Settings —> Apps. From there, select an individual app, tap on “Storage.” If you see “Clear cache” tap on it. If you don’t see it, that particular app doesn’t allow you to clear its cache.
Next, find out how to factory reset your Android phone.