How to Manage Cookie Settings in Your Internet Browser - dummies

How to Manage Cookie Settings in Your Internet Browser

By John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young

To enhance your online experience, browser makers invented a type of special message, known as a cookie, that lets a website recognize you when you revisit that site. They thoughtfully store this info on your very own machine. You can control which sites can store cookies on your computer.

Usually, the website that sets a cookie is the only one that reads the cookie. However, third-party cookies can be set by one website and read by another. Third-party cookies are used by servers that deliver advertisements and those annoying pop-up and pop-under ads. You should accept most cookies but block third-party cookies.

Burning cookies in Firefox

Choose Firefox→Options (on a Mac Firefox→Preferences), click the Privacy icon, and look in the History section. If Remember History is selected, Firefox stores cookies. If you want more control over which cookies it stores, change it to Use Custom Settings for History. This setting displays these cookie-related check boxes:

  • Accept Cookies from Sites: It is recommended that you leave this one selected.

  • Accept Third-Party Cookies: It is recommended you set this to “From visited”.

You can specify which sites can and cannot store cookies by clicking the Exceptions button. You can enter the web addresses that you definitely trust with your cookies (such as the shopping sites you frequent) or that you don’t trust (such as advertising sites).

You can take a look at the cookies on your computer, too. Click the Show Cookies button and scroll down the list of sites. If you see one that you don’t recognize or that sounds suspicious, click it and click the Remove Cookie button.

Exploring cookies in Internet Explorer

Click the Tools icon, choose Internet Options, and click the Privacy tab on the Internet Options dialog box that appears. Internet Explorer displays a slider that you can drag up and down to increase or decrease your level of privacy.

By default, Internet Explorer sets your privacy level to Medium, allowing cookies except for third-party cookies. If you want to specify exactly how cookies are saved, click the Advanced button to see the Advanced Privacy Settings dialog box and then select the Override Automatic Cookie Handling check box. The options are

  • First-Party Cookies: You can choose to accept or to block or to be prompted to choose, though this option grows tiresome quickly if you encounter a lot of cookies. Some sites can store three or more cookies per page. Choose Accept.

  • Third-Party Cookies: Just say no to (that is, choose Block) third-party cookies.

  • Always Allow Session Cookies: This check box lets through all session cookies, a type of cookie used to track a single instance of your visit to a website. These cookies are commonly used by shopping sites such as Amazon.com and are harmless. Select this option so that it contains a check mark.

Cookies and Chrome

Click the Menu icon, and choose Settings from the menu. In the Privacy section, click the Content Settings button to display the Content Settings dialog box. In the Cookies section, select the setting labeled Allow Local Data to Be Set. Check Block third-party cookies, if it’s not already checked. Then click Done.

Safari with cookies

In Safari, click the Settings icon and choose Preferences or choose Safari→Preferences. Then click the Privacy icon in the window that appears. Set Block Cookies and Other website Data to From Third Parties and Advertisers or to Allow From Current Website Only.