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Why is it important to clear your browser’s cache and cookies?

Think of your web browser as a scrapbook where it saves bits and pieces (like snapshots of pages, snippets of code, images, content, buttons, and even directions on where to find things or where to go next) from websites you visit. This helps the sites to open faster on future visits because your browser can use what it’s already saved instead of getting everything new again.

But, when a website gets updated with new content, design, or features, your browser might still cling to the old bits it saved. This means you could miss out on seeing the latest changes, because your browser is using outdated information to show you the site. Clearing your cache is like giving your scrapbook a clean page: it ensures that the next time you visit the website, your browser will gather and save the newest information, so you experience the site as it’s meant to be seen, with all the latest updates and improvements.

Clearing cookies from your web browser is another important step to consider for maintaining your online privacy and ensuring a smooth browsing experience. Cookies are small pieces of data that websites store on your device to remember information about you, like your login details, preferences, and browsing history. While cookies can make your online activities more convenient by remembering who you are so you don’t have to log in every time or keep items in your shopping cart, they also track your movements across different sites. Over time, this tracking information can build up, potentially slowing down your browsing and compromising your privacy. By clearing cookies, you essentially reset your online footprint, making it harder for websites to track your activities and ensuring that you’re not weighed down by a backlog of outdated or unnecessary data. This can also help with accessing the most current version of a website, as it forces the site to treat you like a new visitor, free from any past interactions or preferences stored in old cookies.

Here are instructions on how to clear the cache from a variety of current web browsers (updated 12.12.23)

Google Chrome
  1. Click the Tools menu (three dotted lines in the upper-right corner).
  2. Select History. 
  3. Select Clear Browsing Data from the left-hand side. Set the Time Range set to All Time. Check-mark Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files and select Clear Data.

    In Google Chrome, you can easily clear your browsing data, including your browser cache. By selecting the appropriate settings, you can quickly clear your cache and enjoy a seamless browsing experience.

  4. If on a Windows computer, close and re-open Chrome to save your changes. If on an Apple computer, go to the Chrome menu on the top menu bar and select Quit for the changes to take effect.
Mozilla Firefox
  1. Click on the Tools bar (three bars in the top-right corner).
  2. Click History.

Learn how to clear the browser cache in Google Chrome and manage sync settings.

3. On the menu to the right, select Clear Recent History.

4. In the Clear All History menu, select the time range to Everything.
5. Select the options, Cookies, Cache, Active Logins, Site settings, and Offline website data.

A screenshot of the

6. Click OK.
7. If on a Windows computer, close and re-open Firefox to save your changes. If on an Apple computer, go to the Firefox menu on the top menu bar and select Quit for the changes to take effect.

Safari for Mac OS
  1. Click on Safari on the top menu bar.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click the Privacy tab.
  4. Click Manage Website Data…
  5. Click Remove All.
  6. Click Remove Now.
  7. Go to the Safari menu on the top menu bar.
  8. Select Quit to close Safari and save your changes.
  9.  
Microsoft Edge for Windows 10
  1. Click the Tools menu (three dotted lines in the upper-right corner), and open the Settings menu.

     

  2. Click Privacy, search, and services on the left-side menu.
  3. Under the section Clear browsing data, Click Choose what to clear.
  4. Select Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files.
  5. Click Clear Now.
  6. Close Microsoft Edge completely for your changes to take effect.
Internet Explorer for Windows
  1. Click on the Settings menu in the upper-right corner.
  2. Click Internet options.

     

  3. Under the General tab on the upper-left-hand side, scroll down to Browsing history.
  4. Select Delete…

     

  5. Check the Temporary Internet files and website filesCookies and website dataHistory, and Download History boxes.
  6. Select Delete.
  7. Close Internet Explorer and reopen it for changes to take effect. 
Safari for iOS
  1. Go to the Settings app on your device.
  2. Scroll down to the Safari menu.
  3. Scroll down and select Clear History and Website Data.

     

  4. A pop-up will come up verifying that you want to clear the History and Data. Select Clear History and Data.
  5. The button for Clear History and Website Data will turn gray when cache and cookies have been successfully cleared.
Google Chrome for iOS
  1. Open Google Chrome on your iOS device.
  2. Click on the menu toolbar in the bottom right corner.
  3. Select Settings.

     

  4. Select Privacy.

     

  5. Select CookiesSite Data, and Cached Images and Files. At the top, set the Time Range set to All Time.
  6. Click Clear Browsing Data at the bottom of the screen.
  7. Then confirm by clicking Clear Browsing Data again.