Removing Cookies

How To Ban Cookies (But Do You Really Want To?)

Looking for a way to get rid of cookies? Before you do, think about this.

Blocking all cookies may adversely affect your internet browsing experience. That’s because many cookies are good cookies, used to save your settings and preferences for the sites you visit.

That’s why using software to get rid of bad cookies while keeping the good ones is our recommended option. Antivirus programs from manufacturers such as Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, Kaspersky and more will help you to manage cookies while still enjoying surfing the web.

However, if you’re still determined to get rid of cookies, it’s as simple as fixing your browser settings. Here’s how to do it from some of the most used browsers.

Mozilla Firefox

To block cookies or change cookie settings in Firefox, select ‘options’ then choose ‘privacy’. Since Firefox accepts cookies by default, select “use custom settings for history”. This will bring up additional options where you can uncheck ‘accept cookies from sites’ or set exceptions, ‘accept third party cookies’, and decide how long cookies will be stored (till they expire, till you close the browser, or ask you every time). You can also see the list of stored cookies and delete those you don’t want manually. You also have the option of deleting all cookies either from the history window or the privacy window. Permissions for blocking or allowing cookies for single sites can also be set via the Permissions tab.

Google Chrome

To block cookies or change cookie settings in Google Chrome, click on the wrench (spanner) on the browser toolbar. Choose ‘settings’, then ‘under the hood’. Find the ‘privacy’ section and click on ‘content settings’. Then click on ‘cookies’ and you will get four options allowing you to delete cookies, allow or block all cookies by default or set cookie preferences for particular sites or domains.

Internet Explorer

To block cookies or change cookie settings in Internet Explorer, select Tools (or the gear icon), Internet Options, Privacy. You can choose from a number of security settings including Accept All Cookies, Block All Cookies and intermediate settings that affect cookie storage based on privacy and whether cookies set allow third parties to contact you without your explicit consent.


To block cookies or change cookie settings in Safari 5.0 and earlier, go to Preferences, Security and then Accept Cookies. You can choose from Always, Only from sites you navigate to or Never. In Safari 5.1 and later go to Preferences, Privacy. In the Block cookies section choose Always, Never or From third parties and advertisers.

Now you have all the information you need to manage and delete cookies, but don’t forget that doing so might mean that the web doesn’t look the way you expect. Find out more in How to Control Your Online Privacy with Software.


How to Control Your Online Privacy with Software

Cookies are good for you – no, really!

Many people concerned about online security worry about cookies, but the truth is, it’s not the cookies that are the issue. Cookies are not executable – that means they don’t run programs – so they can’t carry viruses or change how your computer works. They are just tiny files that store information to make your site browsing experience better. This includes information about your preferences on particular sites, the details you need to login or comment, what’s in your shopping basket and so on.

The real problems for internet users are not cookies, but spyware, viruses and, for some, invasive advertising and marketing.

Spyware can harvest sensitive information about your internet use, such as passwords. Viruses can harm your computer by running malicious programs and ads – well, we all know what they do. The truth is that blocking cookies WON’T protect you from the effects of spyware and viruses, but WILL break websites, so blocking all cookies isn’t a great idea. A better option for making web surfing both safe and user friendly is to use anti-spyware and anti-virus software.

Here are some programs which are well used and work well

  • remove adware
  • identify potential spammers and malicious software based on a list
  • detect spyware and malware
  • detect and remove viruses

These programs will identify and eliminate threats to your privacy, whether they use cookies or not. Most of them work by scanning your system, identifying potential problems and quarantining or deleting spyware, malware and adware. You can schedule regular scans and there are regular software updates to ensure that you are protected as new viruses are invented.

And then there are the ads. While ads have their place, because they help keep the internet free, not everyone wants to see ads targeted to their particular location – or see them at all. Blocking cookies will stop the targeting, but it won’t eliminate the ads. For that, you need software and many of those anti-spyware and anti-virus software suites have built in tools to block ads.

And there’s one more thing to think about if you’re worried about privacy. Many social media sites use targeting as a way of serving up ads to its users. Facebook is a prime example. That means as well as protecting your privacy with software, you also need to review your social media privacy settings. A good place to check exactly what information sites hold and what you are doing with it from a single page is MyPermissions (external link) – you might be surprised at what you are allowing.