How to delete cookies and browsing history in Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Everything you need to know about web cookies, and how to stay private online. (See also: How to use torrent sites in UK: how to access The Pirate Bay, blocked torrents.)

Since you're reading this, you've probably heard bad things about so-called 'cookies' and how you should delete cookies from your PC or laptop. In this story we'll show you how to delete cookies

First: it's worth understanding a cookie's role and why you might want to keep at least some of them on your PC.

Cookies store information about you and your preferences, and websites use this information for various purposes. Some cookies are beneficial because they save you from having to set your preferences or install your userdata each time you visit a website. For example, you might the currency on a shopping website from Euros to British Pounds. Without a cookie to store that information, you'd have to make that change each time you shopped on that site.

Some cookies store a lot more information, which some people consider private and sensitive. That information includes which websites you visited after looking at a previous site. Again, this could used to make your life easier, and it almost always used to deliver targeted adverts. But you may reasonably consider such tracking as you browse the web to be an invasion of privacy.

Cookies can send data back to the webpages that you visit; and what the website (or owners of the site) do with this data is where lies the invasion of privacy. This is why deleting your cookies and - to a lesser degree - your browsing history is considered by many to be a useful periodic task.

As with third-party cookies, you may not always want to delete your internet history, since it's convenient to have your browser auto-complete website addresses as you begin typing, prioritising sites you've visited recently over search engine results. You might also like to search your history to find a page you forgot to bookmark weeks- or even months ago.

With this in mind, deleting your cookies and internet browsing history is really very simple. We'll cover four of the main web browsers here, and you'll need to follow the instructions for all the browsers you use, since they don't all share a common pool of cookies and websites you've visited. (See also: What is the Dark Web? How to access the Dark Web.)

How to delete cookies and browsing history: Microsoft Internet Explorer

Go to Tools (the cog icon at the top-right), and choose Internet Options. From here you will see a Browsing History heading halfway down the new window; click on Delete... A new window will pop up that will let you delete your cookies, history, temporary internet files, and form data too (this is typically your email, phone number, address and also passwords you've allowed your browser to save and use to fill out forms in the future).

How to delete cookies and browsing history: Internet Explorer

In later versions of Internet Exploer, there's an additional option: Preserve Favourites website data. This automatically keeps cookies and temporary files for your favourite websites, and is worth ticking unless you really want to delete everything.

Internet Explorer 11 delete cookies

How to delete cookies and browsing history: Google Chrome

Located to the top right of the Chrome window you will see an icon with three horizontal bars. Click on this and then choose Settings from the list.

From here you need to select History from the left-hand column. Now click the Clear Browsing Data button and tick the Cookies box. Note that the drop-down box at the top lets you choose the time period. This is handy as you can (as Google says) obliterate data from the past hour, day, week, final four weeks or everything.

Depending on the options you tick in the list, you can use this duration to selectively delete cookies, browsing history or any other items from the list.

Google Chrome delete cookies

Chrome also lets you delete specific cookies. To do this, instead of clicking on History as described above, click on Settings and - if necessary - click Show advanced settings. In the Privacy section, click the Content settings button.

In the Cookies section you can delete and block specific cookies. To see the list of stored cookies, click the All cookies and site data... button.

There will probably be a long list, and it's an arduous task to go through them all to work out which to keep and which to delete, but it's possible if you want to keep cookies for your favourite sites.

Google Chrome delete specific cookies

How to delete cookies and browsing history on Firefox

Click on the Firefox drop-down menu located in the top-left of the main window, from here hover over History and chose Clear Recent History... from the menu that appears (or just press Ctrl-Shift-Del). This will bring up a new window that will let you delete your Cookies and Browsing history.

You don't get quite the extensive list of options as you do with Chrome, but the duration drop-down menu lets you choose from 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, today or everything.

How to delete cookies and browsing history: Firefox

How to delete cookies and browsing history in Safari

Deleting your Cookies and browsing history on Apple's Safari is just as simple as the previous three browsers mentioned. Go to Menu bar > Safari > Reset Safari > Check the Remove all cookies and Clear history. Unfortunately, you can't choose a duration, so the process will remove all cookies and history when you click Reset.

How to delete cookies and browsing history: Safari

That's how to delete cookies and browsing history on Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. (See also: How to stream from PC to TV.)

See also How to get free online storage.