A cookie is a piece of information that a Web server sends to the browser to be saved on the user's hard drive, according to Cookie Central, a site specialising in cookies. For instance, if you visit a site and enter a login, the site may send the browser some data so the next time you visit you'll be logged in automatically. This is usually a matter of convenience, but it becomes problematic when the cookies are "tracking cookies," programs that gather data on the user's browsing habits.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Access the Web browser's privacy menu. This is most often under "Tools" then "Options," or "Internet Options," though that may vary depending on the browser.
Access the "Privacy" menu tab. This will pull up all of the options regarding cookies and other user data.
Click the "Clear Private Data" (or similar) option. A prompt may appear asking if you are sure that you want to do this. Clearing private data will delete all of the cookies, as well as any browsing history, so click "OK." Depending on the number of cookies accumulated, this may take a few seconds or several minutes.
De-select "Accept Third-Party Cookies" from the Privacy menu. Third-party cookies are usually the troublesome ones, as they can come from pop-up advertisements rather than from the actual site you are visiting.
De-select "Accept Cookies" if you are worried about all cookies. Remember that websites that you visit can make note of the IP address anyway, so disabling all cookies may be extreme. But if you want to eliminate the possibility of any tracking cookies, follow this step with the knowledge that you will always have to fill in complete login information, as auto-fill is a type of cookie.
Click "Save" to keep the settings. You now can browse without worrying about tracking cookies.
Tips and warnings
- Some browsers, like Mozilla, allow you to add exceptions for sites that you trust. Just press "Exceptions" beside the cookie settings in the Privacy menu, and you can type URLs of safe sites.
- Browsers such as Google Chrome allow you to set the browser to a special mode that disables all cookies and history. In Google Chrome, this mode is called Incognito and is under the Tools menu.
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