How to Manage Cookies in the Safari Browser

Excessive cookies can slow down any web browser

Macro image of running Safari web browser on an iPad
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There is a trade-off in allowing websites and third-party advertisers to store cookies in Safari, or for that matter, any browser. Most users are aware of the security and tracking implications that come with accepting cookies. An additional concern is the effect of corrupt cookies on overall performance of your web browser, including how it interacts with your favorite websites.

Information in this article applies to Macs running macOS Mojave (10.14) or macOS High Sierra (10.13).

Corrupt Cookies Affect Safari Experience

When your web browser accumulates cookies over a long time, bad things can happen. Cookies eventually become out of date, so they not only taking up drive space, but they also no longer serve any purpose. Cookies can become corrupt from Safari freezes, power outages, unplanned Mac shutdowns, and other events. Eventually, you may find that Safari and some websites no longer work well together or work together at all.

Troubleshooting the reason Safari and a website fail to work well together is challenging, but a corrupt cookie or cached data may be the culprit. Because of this, Safari gives you a way to delete website data.

Deleting Cookies and Cache in Safari

You can delete all your stored cookies and caches or just selected ones you want to remove in Safari preferences, leaving the others behind.

  1. Launch Safari and select Preferences from the Safari menu.

    Opening the Safari Preferences
  2. In the window that opens, click the Privacy tab.

  3. In the Cookies and other website data section, click Manage Website Data to open an alphabetical list of all the websites that your computer is storing data about, including cookies and caches.

    The Privacy tab in Safari preferences
  4. To delete a single website, scroll through the alphabetical list or use the search field. Select it and click Remove to delete any data your computer stores about the website. This can be helpful when you're having problems with a specific website.

    The alphabetical list of website data in Safari preferences privacy tab

    Select multiple sequential websites using the Shift key. Select the first cookie, then hold down the Shift key and select the second website. Any websites in between the two are also selected.

    You can use the Command key to select noncontiguous websites. Select the first cookie and then hold down the Command key as you select each additional cookie.

    Click the Remove button to delete the selected cookies.

  5. Click Remove All to delete all the websites on the list. No selection is necessary. You are prompted to confirm that you want to delete all the data stored by the websites. Confirm by clicking Remove Now in the pop-up window.

    Remove All screen in Safari preferences Privacy tab

Deleting Safari Caches

If you'd prefer to leave the cookies in place and delete only the caches, you can do it through the Developer menu on the Safari menu bar. The Developer menu isn't enabled by default, but you can turn it on in Safari's preferences and then clear the caches:

  1. Launch Safari and select Preferences from the Safari menu.

  2. In the window that opens, click the Advanced tab.

  3. Check the box in front of Show Develop menu in menu bar and close the preference screen.

    The Advanced tab in Safari Preferences
  4. Click Develop in the Safari menu bar and select Empty Caches in the drop-down menu.

    The Safari Develop menu showing the Empty Caches option

This is an all or nothing option. You can't select individual caches to remove in the Develop menu.