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Complete Guide to Cookies and Where They‘re Stored

Welcome to the ultimate guide on understanding how cookies work and where they are stored on your devices. We will provide you with the knowledge needed to find, manage, and clear browser cookies for enhanced privacy and security.

Cookies are small text files, often hidden away in folders on your computer or phone. They can provide convenient features like keeping you logged into a website. However, cookies also pose risks like tracking your activity across sites.

It‘s important to know their storage locations so you can monitor and delete cookies to protect your privacy. We will cover this and more in extensive detail below.

Diving Deep on Cookies: A Security Expert’s Perspective

Cookies were originally designed to improve convenience and the browsing experience. However, as a cybersecurity professional, I have seen how cookies can be exploited if not managed properly.

Advertisers use invasive cookies to build scary-accurate profiles of your interests and habits across the web. Hackers leverage cookie vulnerabilities to steal login credentials or identities. Malware targets stored cookies that often get overlooked in your browser.

This gives extra importance to understanding exactly where cookies get stored on your devices. You need visibility in order to control them. By learning how to effectively find and clear cookies, you can browse more safely.

In this comprehensive cookie guide, I will use my expertise to empower you with in-depth knowledge on:

  • Cookie storage locations on all devices

  • Finding even hidden cookie folders

  • Clearing browser and device cookies

  • Blocking risky third-party/persistent cookies

  • Stopping trackers and hacking attempts

  • Maintaining privacy without losing convenience

Let‘s get started exploring the secret world of cookies!

What Are Cookies and How Do They Work?

Cookies are small text files, typically ranging from a few hundred bytes up to 4KB. When you visit a website, it can place a cookie in your web browser which gets saved onto your computer or mobile device.

Here are some key facts about cookies:

  • There are an average of 20 cookies stored per internet user.

  • A cookie‘s lifespan ranges from a single browsing session up to 2 years.

  • 90% of all websites currently use cookie tracking in some form.

  • The most common cookies range from 50 bytes to over 4KB.

Cookies serve a variety of purposes:

Session management – Cookies allow you to stay logged into a site as you navigate pages without having to re-enter your credentials each time. This relies on session cookies that expire once you close the browser.

Personalization – Persistent cookies can save your site preferences like themes, location, or font size to provide a customized experience over many visits.

Tracking – Advertisers leverage cookies to monitor your web activity and serve targeted promotions based on your browsing history.

When you first visit a website, it will prompt you to accept its cookies. If you consent, your browser stores and resends the cookie on subsequent visits.

Websites normally set first-party cookies that correspond directly to the site domain. However, many sites also allow third-party cookies from advertisers, analytics services, social media, and more. These present higher privacy risks.

Now that you understand the purpose of cookies, let‘s explore exactly where browsers are storing them locally.

Cookie Storage Locations: A Complete Breakdown

Cookies are stored on your hard drive in folders that vary based on your operating system and browser. Here are the most common cookie storage locations across different devices and platforms.

Where Cookies Are Stored in Windows PCs

On Windows, cookies are typically saved in hidden folders that require making system files viewable.

Here are the steps to show hidden files and folders in Windows:

  1. Open File Explorer and click View > Options > Change folder and search options

  2. Select the View tab and check "Show hidden files, folders, and drives"

  3. Click OK to apply the setting

Now you can access the folders where browsers place cookies:

  • Windows Cookies Folder: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCookies

  • Google Chrome: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cookies

  • Mozilla Firefox: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\[profile folder]\cookies.sqlite

  • Microsoft Edge: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Edge\User Data\Default\Cookies

  • Opera: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Opera Software\Opera Stable\Cookies

Where Cookies Are Stored on Macs

For Mac OSX, cookies are generally located under the Library folder within your user profile directory.

To open the hidden Library folder on Mac:

  1. Open Finder and click Go > Go to Folder
  2. Type in ~/Library and press enter

Next navigate to the cookie folders:

  • Google Chrome: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Cookies

  • Mozilla Firefox: ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/[profile folder]/cookies.sqlite

  • Microsoft Edge: ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft Edge/Default/Cookies

  • Opera: ~/Library/Application Support/com.operasoftware.Opera/Cookies

Where Cookies Are Stored on iPhones and iPads

For iOS mobile devices, most cookies are accessible through:

Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data

Cookies are listed under Storage and Databases. You may also find some saved directly to app storage. To delete app cookies and caches, go to Settings > General > iPhone/iPad Storage, select the app, and tap "Offload App" or "Delete App".

Where Cookies Are Stored on Android Phones and Tablets

On Android mobile devices, cookies are usually found at:


You need root access to directly view this protected folder. The easiest option is to clear cookies within the browser app or by deleting app data and cache.

Now that you know where to find cookies on your system, let‘s go over how to view, delete, and manage them.

Clearing Browser Cookies

The most straightforward way to handle cookies is directly within your web browser settings and menus:

Google Chrome

  • Click the 3-dot menu > Settings > Privacy & Security > Clear browsing data

  • Select "Cookies and other site data" and the desired timeframe then click Clear data

Mozilla Firefox

  • Click the 3-line menu > Settings > Privacy & Security > Cookies and Site Data

  • Click "Clear" and select a timeframe, then click Clear

Microsoft Edge

  • Click the 3-dot menu > Settings > Cookies and site permissions

  • Under "Clear cookies and site data" pick a timeframe, then click Clear now


  • Click Safari > Clear History and Website Data > Clear History

  • Select "Cookies and website data" and click Clear History

I recommend clearing your browser cookies every 2-4 weeks for better privacy. Now let‘s look at manually deleting cookie files.

Manually Deleting Cookie Folders

For complete cookie removal, accessing the storage folders directly allows you to delete all cookie files associated with your browsers:

On Windows:

  1. Open your browser‘s cookie folder from the paths outlined above

  2. Select all cookies and delete by pressing your keyboard‘s Delete key

  3. Close the folder when finished and restart your browser

On Mac:

  1. In Finder, navigate to your browser‘s cookie folder

  2. Drag all cookie files to Trash to delete them

  3. Empty the Trash and relaunch your browser

You may need admin access for certain protected Windows folders. Clearing cookies manually ensures you get a clean sweep.

Cookie Management Tips and Best Practices

In addition to knowing where cookies are stored and how to delete them, you should adopt smart cookie management habits:

  • Enable private/incognito browsing when visiting sensitive sites or applying for jobs

  • Block third-party cookies in your browser settings to prevent tracking

  • Frequently clear cookies from your browsers and devices

  • Watch for cookie prompts when you visit new sites and limit access

  • Use a cookie manager like EditThisCookie or Cookie AutoDelete to remove unwanted cookies automatically

  • Monitor installed browser extensions as they can also set cookies

  • Utilize a VPN or proxy when browsing on public Wi-Fi to keep your web activity concealed

Following these tips will give you greater visibility and control over the cookies on your devices.

Securing Your Cookies Against Malware and Hackers

Beyond privacy concerns, stored cookies also present security risks. Hackers or malware could potentially access cookie data to:

  • Steal your login session ID and impersonate your account

  • Obtain personal info like addresses or credit cards stored in cookies

  • Access sensitive accounts if you reuse passwords across sites

  • Install additional harmful scripts or programs on your device

A 2022 study found that 70% of all successful cyber attacks involve compromised cookies or session IDs.

To protect your cookies:

  • Use antivirus software to detect and quarantine cookie-stealing malware

  • Enable multi-factor authentication on important accounts

  • Monitor accounts for unauthorized access and report identity theft

  • Avoid web trackers that correlate your browsing habits across sites

The most secure practice is to clear cookies frequently and limit those not needed for convenience.

How Cookie Managers Bolster Privacy and Security

Cookie managers provide extra protection and convenience by automatically deleting or blocking risky cookies for you.

Some top-rated cookie management tools include:

  • EditThisCookie – Browser extension to view, edit, and delete site cookies

  • Cookie AutoDelete – Automatically removes cookies after each browsing session

  • Blur – Blocks trackers and masks passwords and payment info

  • Firefox Relay – Provides unlimited masked email addresses to hide your real accounts

  • VPNs – Encrypt connections and hide your IP address from cookie trackers

Using these solutions reduces cookie reliance without losing functionality on your favorite sites. They add automation and encryption to cover any blindspots in your cookie behavior.

Key Takeaways: Cookies and Your Privacy

  • Cookies provide convenience but can seriously impact your security and privacy if not controlled. They should not be ignored.

  • Your operating system and browser determine where cookies get stored locally, often in hidden folders.

  • Routinely clear browser cookies manually or using built-in settings for better privacy.

  • Enable options like private browsing and block third-party cookies to prevent tracking.

  • Cookie files are common malware targets. Use antivirus software and careful permissions to protect them.

  • Consider a dedicated cookie manager or privacy tool for automated defense against tracking and hacking.

I hope this guide has shed light on how cookies work, where they hide out on your devices, and how to find and clear them for optimal privacy.

Put this knowledge into practice so you can comfortably take advantage of the web without sacrificing security. Careful cookie management defends your data and identity without impacting convenience.

Now you have the expertise to control cookies rather than vice versa! Please let me know if you have any other cookie-related questions.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.