Cookies Are Gonna Eat Your Privacy: How to Disable Them

how to disable cookies

While browsing without an ad blocker you see little popups, appearing from time-to-time in the bottom of the web pages. They say “We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience. Please click to accept this.” What are these cookies and why are they terribly tasty for your privacy?

What Are Computer Cookies?

Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel, who were able to mark their trail through a dark forest by dropping cookie crumbs behind them? Well, web servers do the same for you by placing on your computer small text files about your activity on a particular website. Cookies are commonly used to store registration data like your name, email, the contents of a shopping cart, your preferred layout for a web page (language), what goods you might be looking at, and so on.

These types of cookies are first-party, because they’re set by the website you visit.

browser cookies

Why Are Cookies Terribly Tasteful for Advertisers?

Some cookies are “special” and virtually impossible to resist if you are an advertiser. This is because of another type of cookie.

Third-party cookies are set by advertisers or marketing and analytics platforms that collect your data in order to show you ads. There are ads on every website. When the ad loads, the ad network or advertiser sends a cookie that later may be recognized on future websites you visit that also have the advertiser’s ads.

advertising cookies

The most terrible part, however, is that these guys talk to each other and share (read: “sell”) data about you to other companies in their advertising network. As a result, an entire network can get access to your information, including how you browse, what websites you visit, what purchases you make, or which articles you read.

As long as a third-party cookie lives, it will help advertisers collect data—quite sensitive sometimes—and share it with other companies without your control.That’s called tracking or cookie tracking.

How to Disable Cookies?

Below is a brief outline about the basic approaches to stop tracking. We’ve also outlined how to disable tracking on specific devices.

The fast but inconvenient way—incognito or private browsing mode.

Pros: When you use incognito mode, third-party services like Facebook, Google, etc. that use cookies to track your movement across the internet won’t follow you to the incognito tab.

Cons: Your internet service provider still has a list of all the websites you visited. The website you’re viewing might also keep a record of your stay.

The easy but short-term way—clear cookies via your browser. You can manually clear them any time.

Pros: It’s easy to update your browser settings. You should never have to download an app for this.

Cons: Mostly, it’s a bit of a procedure you should manually repeat every time you want to clear your digital footprint.

How to Clear Cookies on Chrome

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. On your browser toolbar, click More — More Tools — Clear Browsing Data.
  3. In the “Clear browsing data” box, click the checkboxes for Cookies and other site data.
  4. Use the menu at the top to select the amount of data that you want to delete.
  5. Choose beginning of time to delete everything.

How to Clear Cookies on Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click the menu button , then Library, followed by History.
  2. Click Clear Recent History….
  3. Set Time range to clear to Everything.
  4. Click on the arrow next to Details to expand the list of history items.
  5. Select Cookies and make sure that other items you want to keep are not selected.
  6. Click Clear Now to clear the cookies and close the Clear Recent History window.

How to Clear Cookies on Edge

  1. Choose Settings – Click Browsing Data, click Choose What to Clear.
  2. Remove stored cookies and data.
  3. If you want to remove cookies automatically click Always clear this when I close the browser.
  4. Click Clear browsing data.

The manual but more-secure way—adjust cookie settings on each browser or device.

Pros: You can drastically limit the number of cookies that are used as you browse and you won’t have to clear cookies as often from your browser cache.
Cons: The process for each browser and device is a little different and managing cookies to this degree can interfere with how well certain websites function.
Learn how to adjust cookie settings in your browser.

The complicated but most complete way—download a cookie manager.

These add-ons let you do bulk changes to a large quantity of cookies, like managing their expiration dates, etc.
Pros: You can choose the specific third-party cookies you want to delete and useful first-party cookies you want to left. You can also set up auto-deletion.

Cons: Good add-ons are not available for all browsers. For example, there are no cookie managers for Edge.

How to Disable Cookies on Chrome

How to Disable Cookies on Mozilla Firefox

The easy and completely protected way to block cookies—StopAd

To be fully protected from third-party trackers and intrusive ads, use StopAd. It blocks ad trackers, social media trackers (Facebook), and data trackers (from the web analytics tools). With StopAd, advertisers and cyber criminals can’t collect your personal data when you’re online—no matter which browser, app, or device you’re using.