Dave Taylor

How To Remove Cookies From IE

By: Dave Taylor
January 20th, 2010

I'm becoming paranoid about people tracing what I do online and have decided that one proactive step I can take is to delete all of my "cookies" in MSIE [Microsoft Internet Explorer]. Will that work, and if so, how do I delete these pesky cookies?

Dave's Answer:

First, are you sure that you really need to delete your cookies? There is a lot of misinformation surrounding browser cookies, and unfounded paranoia that they can harm your computer. Typically, all that a cookie can do, is remember that you have visited a website before, and display some information indicating that it "recognizes" you. You log in to Facebook, you log out, you go back a day later, and Facebook has already filled in the login form with your e-mail address, so you don't have to type it in again. Facebook uses a cookie to "recognize" you and pre-fill your e-mail address. 9 times out of 10, nothing worth worrying about.

So, if some know-it-all has advised you that you need to delete your cookies for some reason, you might want to ask them why exactly they think it makes a difference. (It won't protect you against spyware, for example.) If they can't give a clear and coherent reason why they think you need to delete your cookies or what good they think it will do, you may have unmasked a poser.

But assuming the source of your advice is the real deal, here's how to delete cookies in Internet Explorer.

Confusingly, the option to delete cookies in Internet Explorer is located under the menu option "Delete Browsing History". Click the "Safety" menu button and click "Delete Browsing History" underneath it:

msie menu delete browsing history

This will bring up the "Delete Browsing History" dialog box:

msie delete browsing history box

If you just want to delete all of your cookies, then un-check all of the boxes in this dialog box except the one marked "Delete Cookies":

msie cookies checkbox

and click the "Delete" button at the bottom.

You may see a dialog box appear on the screen for a few seconds while your cookies are being deleted:

msie deleting history in progress

(Again, the text of the dialog box is confusing, because it says "Please wait while the browsing history is deleted", but Internet Explorer is not actually deleting your browsing history, it's just deleting your cookies.)

If you want to make absolutely sure all your cookies are deleted, you should restart Internet Explorer as well, since the IE help file advises that this is necessary to make sure all cookies are well and truly gone:

You should close Internet Explorer when you're done to clear cookies that are still in memory from your current browsing session. This is especially important when using a public computer.

About the Author: Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs. AskDaveTaylor.com http://www.intuitive.com/blog/