I’m a creature of habit and each Wednesday I go to my local supermarket’s website to see the specials. Certain of these specials are unique to me so I need to log in to see them. This week I couldn’t log in. Each time I got a message saying my session expired and to log in again. I had a pretty good idea that the problem was with some site cookie. The good news is there are multiple ways to clear cookies for one site with Google Chrome.
The incident above was my recent example. However, there are other things about cookies that can go wrong. For example, the cookie could get corrupted or it’s too long.
My web server uses NGINX which has a limit on cookie size. In these scenarios, you might encounter an even more Draconian error like 400 Bad Request. My apologies if you ever hit that error because the browser doesn’t give you any solutions. The steps below should clear up those errors.
You’ve probably encountered a similar scenario. The problem is when you talk to customer support they want you to delete all cookies. It’s the easiest solution for them. While that will typically solve the problem it has unintended consequences.
In my case, if I deleted all browser cookies, I’d have to authenticate again using 2FA on a bunch of sites, not just the problem one. So, I like to start by deleting only the cookies associated with the problem site. In other words, I start small.
There are a couple ways to delete site cookies. The common one is by going into your Google settings and finding the specific site. I’ve provided those steps further down, but I also want to introduce you to my lazy and easier way. I prefer this solution as it shows 3rd party cookies.
Use Chrome Developer Tools to Delete Site Cookies
If you just cringed when you saw the word “developer”, that’s OK. I’m not one either, but I like this tool for its versatility. Just think of it as a “Swiss Army Website Tool”.
- With Google Chrome, navigate to the website. (e.g. www.timeatlas.com)
- Press the shortcut keys Ctrl + Shift + I. Or, you can right-click and select Inspect from the side menu.
- Click the >> button on the top and select Application.
- Click the button next to Cookies.
- Right-click the domain name and click Clear.
- Click the X button in top right corner to close Developer tools.
Chrome Developer Tools will open next to your website. In my case, it opens to the side. You can change where the tools dock, by clicking the button with three vertical dots.
You may see other sections apart from the main domain. For example, because I use Google’s ad network you may see Doubleclick references.
You can also delete individual cookies. Instead of right-clicking the domain, you would select a specific cookie.
Traditional Way to Delete Site Cookies
If the Developers tool panel scares you there is a more traditional way. This involves digging into your Chrome Settings.
- In Chrome’s address bar type or paste chrome://settings/content/cookies
- Click See all cookies and site data.
- In the text box with the magnifying glass icon , type the domain you’d like to find and press Enter.
- If you wish to remove all the cookies, click the REMOVE ALL SHOWN link toward the right.
You’ll see in the example above, 3rd party cookies are not pulled in since they don’t reference “Safeway”.
Cookie Gotchas and Caveats
The main thing to remember about cookies is they are linked to your specific browser and computer.
For example, if I use Google Chrome, to go to www.timeatlas.com it will capture a set of cookies. However, these cookies aren’t shared if I use Mozilla Firefox to look at the same site. Firefox will store its own cookies. Deleting the cookies in one browser will have no effect on the cookies in a different browser.
Also, remember that if your goal is to delete all cookies for one site, you’re probably better off using Chrome Developer tools since it will show you third-party cookies in the same panel.