Cookies can be useful when you are in control of them. Today we’re taking a look at how you can control cookies by blocking them except for when you want them to enhance your user experience.
A cookie is only a small file a web site places in your computer to save information. The procedure the cookie is entirely benign and can even be helpful when cookies do useful things like store your shopping cart info between sessions, save you from the hassle of logging into a site every time you open and close your browser, and other helpful time savers. The ones that give cookies a bad name track users without their explicit knowledge and help advertisers (among others) develop profiles of users. Many folks desire to restrict the amount of information that is collected about them and do so by limited the sort of cookies that their browser accepts and/or keeps.
Today we’re going to look at some speedy means to do this is Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome using white lists. It is much easier to specify which sites you would like to accept cookies from than it really is to perpetually accept/reject the hundreds of cookies your browser is bombarded with. For each browser we are going to show you just how to handle the job with built-in tools and then with extensions that enrich the experience–if any are available for the browser.
A few quick notes before we continue. First, There are a few disadvantages to harshly weeding out all but the crucial cookies from your browser. You will stop getting custom tailored ads (without cookies to tell the advertisement server the sort of advertisements would be best suited for you, you will get generic ones) and you’ll start experiencing more intersitial advertisements more often (like pop-over ads and video lead-in advertisements) as these are frequency controlled by cookies.
Second, this is a rather competitive approach to controlling cookies. We recommend it if you’re truly intent on keeping your privacy on lock down and restraining what third-parties can monitor about your online behavior and/or as a extremely great exercise in seeing just how many times web sites attempt to load your computer down with cookies.
Internet Explorer has simple but serviceable cookie controls. There are two principal places we’re interested in: handling site status and toggling the cookie approval. First let’s look at how to whitelist a site. Click on Tools -> Internet Options -> Privacy -> Websites. Here you’ll find the Per Site Privacy Actions menu that allows you to white or black list web sites.
Manually inputting every site you’d like to whitelist is a bit on the kludgy side so we’re going to semi-automate the process by toggling the cookie settings. Visit Tools -> Internet Options -> Privacy and under Settings click Advanced.
Here you will find an easy radio button based menu where you are able to toggle the settings for first-party and third-party cookies. We are going to briefly turn on first-party cookie prompting and block third-party cookies. Rather than try to remember every website you may want to add to your white list, this permits you to accept the cookies on a demand-to-use basis as they appear. After a couple of days of browsing you will have likely come across just about any website you consistently use and will have the capacity to add the to the white list on an as-needed basis. At that point you can toggle it to Block or leave it on Prompt if you don’t find it to be a pain.
Unfortunately in the world of extensions, IE is a light weight and there aren’t any widely acquired cookie direction extensions. If you’re a diehard IE user and reluctant to change to Firefox or Chrome one accessible option is No More Cookies which allows you to mass authorize/delete cookies in your IE cache. Compared to the natural functionality it is not a revolutionary development, yet.
If you’re a Firefox user you’ll find robust built-in controls in addition to pile of extensions for handling your cookies. First let’s look at the built in systems. Open up Firefox and click on Tools -> Options -> Privacy. Once in the Privacy menu make sure that the Firefox will… choice is set to “use custom settings for history”. Assess Accept third party cookies and toggle Keep until… to “ask me every time” .
The ask-me-every-time setting is like the Prompt setting in IE. From now on every time a first-party cookie efforts to lodge itself in your browser cache you will be prompted to allow or block it. Again, you should simply need to use the prompt approach for a week or so until you have seen all your regular sites and got them into your white list. If at any time you want to check the list or manually add entries to it, only click the Exceptions button.
If you’d like to really dig in and get your hands dirty you can examine cookies on a cookie-by-cookie basis by click on the Show Cookies button located on the Privacy tab. There it is possible to get detailed advice about cookies and manually delete the. If you want to delve in even deeper, snatch a copy of Cookies Manager . It is a super charged version of the native Firefox cookie manager which includes cookie editing, import/export, and more. Firefox’s native tools are more than enough for most people but if you find yourself venturing down the path of cookie-hunting-ninja it is great to have the appropriate tools.
If you’re looking to wrangle cookies in Google Chrome you’ve the choice to do so, although Chrome’s menu settings are the least intuitively worded among the three browsers we are looking at and inconvenient to use at best. In order to access your cookie settings under Chrome click the wrench icon then navigate to Options -> Under the Hood -> Content Settings. Here you’ve the fairly restricted ability to “Enable locate data to be set” (let all cookies), “Block websites from setting any data” (block all cookies), and “Ignore exceptions and block third party cookies from being set” which allows first-party cookies to be set, blocks all third party cookies, but unlike IE and Firefox there is not any prompt system. You are stuck manually managing your white list that is completely unacceptable and far too much effort.
Unfortunately due to this total oversight we need to turn to an add on to repair things. Fortunately the add on does a wonderful job mending matters and after installing it life is good again. Leave everything as it is, but check “Discount exceptions and obstruct third party cookies from being set”. Now see the extension gallery page for Vanilla Cookie Manager and install it.
Vanilla Cookie Manager fills in the enormous gap in Chrome’s cookie management toolbox by allowing for simple whitelist management. Every web site you see that’s first-party cookies are going to have little white cookie icon in the address bar. Click that icon to block or allow cookies from that site. Besides handling a white list for you Vanilla Cookie Manager will even clear unwanted cookies at startup and protect your whitelisted cookies from deletion.
Although it would be nice if Chrome had the same functionality that Firefox and IE do, Vanilla Cookie Manager picks up the slack rather nicely. None the less, a simple prompt mechanism to ease whitelist creation isn’t an unreasonable request to make of future Chrome launches!