I can’t seem to properly log in to a vendor site that my company uses and when I checked with tech support, they said “clear your cookies and cache and try again”. I’m running Google Chrome on an iMac and have no idea how to clear cookies, crackers, cheese or cash. Can you help?!
Even as Web sites have gotten bigger and more complex, the experience of visiting sites has sped up quite a bit in the last few years. Sites are also more likely to stay logged in and remember your settings and preferences across visits too. Both of these are accomplished through some pretty slick underlying Web technologies. Cookies are the silly name for the memory that your Web browser has of previous visits to a Web site, and the cache is a saved copy of key images and other data from sites so that you experience the site loading super fast. Imagine, if you only have to get a page header graphic once, regardless of how many pages you visit on a site, subsequent pages will be faster than the first, right?
The problem is when these two stored data items get out of sync or otherwise messed up. The Web site is asking for a cached copy of X.gif and your web browser is getting confused about whether it has X.gif or Y.gif in its local storage. Same with cookies, you might well have Google Chrome happily sending back oatmeal and chocolate chip – to run with the naming convention – but the site only wants snickerdoodles. Not good!
Fortunately, with just a few clicks, you can easily remove the cache from every site you visit and delete all the cookies from a specific Web site in Google Chrome too. Let’s check it out!
To start out, I encountered the same problem with my local Boulder, Colorado newspaper site, the Daily Camera. Every single time I’d visit, I would get this “learn about our new login” banner without it ever letting me actually log in and read the articles. Like this:
As a digital subscriber, I should definitely not be seeing that nor the “Log In” on the right side either. This is likely a cookies and milk, um, cookies and cache problem. To fix it, I need to go into the Chrome settings. That starts with a click on the three dots one atop the other on the top right. That brings up the main Chrome settings and user menu:
As you might expect, you want to choose “Settings” to proceed. That opens up a new tab with a lot of different features and options. Notably the options and preferences you can modify in “Privacy and security“. Suffice to say, click that:
We’ll be dabbling with both “Clear browsing data” and then “Cookies and other site data“. For now, click on Clear browsing data and you’ll be presented with this set of options:
At this point, just choose “Cached images and files” and click “Clear data“. This will get rid of all the local copies of image files, photos, etc, that the browser is keeping to speed things up. Don’t worry, while the next few sites you visit might be a tiny bit slower, it will all build up again for your most favorite sites pretty darn quickly. Most people don’t even notice if their cache is cleared and rebuilt!
That by itself might fix the problem with that vendor site you’re having, but let’s get rid of any cookies too since that’s often the cause of problems with remote site login hiccups and similar. I know for my issue with the newspaper site, this was critical.
To do that, back up one screen to the Privacy and security choices and click on “Cookies and other site data“. You’ll see this:
Is it just me or does that look like weird unicellular animals are eating our cookies in that image? 🙂
You’ll want to scroll down just a little bit until you see these options:
As the highlight indicates, you want to click on “See all cookies and site data“, but before we go, I encourage you to ensure that you have preload enabled, as shown above too.
Now click on See all cookies and site data in your Google Chrome settings and preferences area. You’ll see a long, long list of sites and what cookies they have left on your computer:
When I scroll, I see hundreds upon hundreds of cookies, many from sites I don’t even visit. How is that possible? Because they might supply a banner advert or embedded widget on another site without me even realizing. The modern Web, ya know.
You can delete every darn cookie from every site, but that’s kind of like dropping a nuke. Instead search for the domain in question on the top right (where it says “Search cookies”). For my site, the results look like this:
I don’t know exactly which is which so I’m going to “Remove All Shown” and get rid of the 34 cookies, 5 additional cookies, cache storage, file system and service workers from DailyCamera.com. With a single click.
A confirmation window pops up:
I choose “Clear all” and that’s it. No other feedback. But now when I go to the Boulder Daily Camera Web site, I’m able to log in!
Notice it shows “My Account” on the right, not “Log In”. Hurray, fixed!
I hope this also helps you figure out what’s wrong with your vendor site and log in without further incident.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Web browsers, online security and related for many years. Please check out my spam, scams and online security help area while you’re visiting for lots of must-read tutorials. Thanks!