How to Disable/Stop/Remove Tracking Cookies from Our Browser

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Have you ever noticed that when you are spending your leisure time on Facebook, you keep seeing advertisements regarding the last e-commerce website you visited or about the gadget you recently searched over the web? 

Have you ever thought about how Facebook knows that you want to buy a specific item? Or what e-commerce platform do you prefer when shopping online? 

The answer is cookies. Not the ones that we love to eat, but the ones created by the websites we visit that store bits and pieces of our personal information on our devices. Cookies are common, and we have hundreds or thousands of cookies stored on our devices depending upon when we last deleted them. 

In this article, I’m going to share ways of deleting cookies from our browser. So, let’s begin. 

How Cookies Work?

Cookies are small text files created by the website you have visited and stored on your device. They contain bits and pieces of information like your user ID, session ID, or any other text. 

They serve as a memory tool and can recognize your online behavior and remember your actions. It sounds cynical, but it is essential for a human being as we have adapted to it, otherwise the World Wide Web would not have been working the way it is.

Do All Kinds of Cookies Target our Privacy?

Before we can answer that, let us see how many types of cookies are there and how they behave.

Session Cookies

Session Cookies are temporary cookies that save your activity over the website and provide backup for the website to memorize your session.

If there would be no session cookies created, then the website would think that you are a new visitor with every click.

Let’s assume that you block Facebook from creating session cookies. Can you imagine how mad you will be when Facebook asks for your login credentials on every click? 

If you are shopping online, you add a product to the cart, and as soon as you click to get to the next page, the add to cart is empty. Why? Because session cookies are disabled and the web can’t track your online activity. 

Session cookies are necessary so that the website can remember about our activity for the current session. After you have closed the webpage session cookie expires.

Persistent Cookies

Persistent cookies (also known as First-Party Cookies) tracks your online preference. They store information regarding the customization of any website. 

Let’s assume that you personalized your Outlook account. You changed your theme, started using Dark Mode, and changed the Display Density to Compact. The browser saves this personalized information on your device in the form of Persistent Cookies. If you have disabled or somehow blocked persistent cookies, then every time you will open Outlook, it will be in the default state, no matter how many times you personalize it.

It is also how devices remember and save your Login Credentials, language selections, menu preferences, and more.

Persistent, stored, and permanent cookies are the terms used interchangeably, as even after the session ends, they are present and saved on your hard disk for a more extended period.  

Persistent cookies have an expiration date, after which the cookie and the personalized data will no longer be available. Luckily, Websites prefer to use a long life span for these kinds of cookies so that users can enjoy their personalized content for a more extended period. 

Tracking Cookies

Tracking cookies (Also known as Third-Party Cookies) collects data on your online behavior. Just like any other cookie, the web saves these kinds of cookies on your device so that they can keep an eye out for your online activities.

Tracking cookies track your location, age, interests, search trends, and more so that marketers can provide you with customized advertisements on the websites you visit.

Most Web Browsers have options to block these kinds of cookies, which will help keep your identity safe over the internet.

From the information we gathered, only tracking cookies target our privacy and share our data with third-party advertising agencies.

Manage Cookie Settings for your Browser

Management of cookies is not a big deal. Mostly all the browsers provide the customization of cookies from which we can change the cookie setting or even delete them (individually or entirely).

Most browsers have these functions:

  • Block Cookies
  • Block only Third-party cookies
  • Grant Permissions for every cookie
  • Delete all cookies when closing the browser

Some Browsers also let the user see what’s inside the cookie or delete individual cookies. Let’s see how a user can customize his setting’s in different web browsers.

Google Chrome

The top-selling web Browser and the most popular web browser makes it easy to customize your cookie settings.

Here is how to Customize Cookie settings:

  1. Launch Google Chrome and click on the three vertical dots present at the top-right of the screen.
  1. From the Dropdown menu, click on Settings.
  1. Under the Privacy and Security section, find the Cookies and Other site data and click on it.
  1.  You can select the Privacy you desire.
  1. You can choose to clear cookies and data when you quit Google Chrome on the same page.
  1. You can also see the cookies and the data stored in them from the same page. 

Deleting cookies on Google Chrome:

  1. Launch Google Chrome and click on the three vertical dots present at the top-right of the screen.
  1. From the Dropdown menu, click on Settings.
  1. Under the Privacy and Security section, find the Clear Browsing Data and click on it.
  1. On the pop-up window, click on Advanced.
  1. Choose All Time from the Time Range Drop Menu.
  1. Choose what information you want to delete from your device, and after selecting, click on Clear Data.

If you want to re-enable the cookies, you can follow the same steps to the page and turn on the feature again.

Or, you can access the page by merely typing this link chrome://settings/content/cookies on Google Chrome’s Address Bar.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla’s open-source web browser used to be the preferred web browser for privacy-oriented users. FIrefox has become less prevalent than it initially was, but it is actively used even nowadays by users who seek Privacy.

To turn off cookies in Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox. Click on the three vertical lines at the top-right of your screen. Then click Options:
  1. Choose the Privacy & Security category on the left.
  1. Click on the option to block Third-Party Cookies and Trackers.
  1. Scroll down a bit to find the Block cookies and site data option. Select the All cookies option.

To re-enable cookies, follow the same steps, but choose the Accept cookies and site data option.

Deleting cookies on Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox. Click on the three vertical lines at the top-right of your screen. Then click Options:
  1. Click History and then Select Clear Recent History.
  1. Set Time range to clear: to Everything.
  1. Select Cookies and make sure that other items you want to keep are not selected.
  1. Click OK to clear all cookies.

Microsoft Edge

If you are a Windows 10 user, Microsoft Edge might be your browser of choice. Microsoft Edge is the successor to Internet Explorer, built especially for Windows 10.

Here’s how you can disable cookies on Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three horizontal dots in the top-right corner.
  1. Click on Settings.
  1. In the next flyout menu, click on Privacy & Security.
  1. See the Cookies section here at the top. Just click on the Block all cookies option.

How to delete cookies in Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three horizontal dots in the top-right corner.
  1. Click on Settings.
  1. In the next flyout menu, click on Privacy & Security.
  1. Under Clear browsing data, select Choose what to clear.
  1. Under the Time range, choose a time range.
  1. Select the check box next to each data type you’d like to clear, and then select Clear now.

And when you want to re-enable cookies, click on Don’t block cookies. It’s that simple.

Hopefully, by now you’ve a clear idea about how to remove cookies from any browser you use.