How to Block Cookies in Every Browser and Operating System

By Jayden Andrews. April 14, 2020

Internet cookies, for some reason, have gained a bad reputation. This is probably partly due to the fact that cookies can store information about the visitor’s identity and activities. But most of the time, cookies are actually simple and harmless. Websites use cookies for various reasons, but it is mostly for tracking the incoming traffic of the website.

However, most users are not comfortable with cookies tracking their activities online and storing their information. If you’re one of those users who hates cookies, there are so many ways to disable to block them, not only from your browser but for your entire system as well.

This guide will show you how to block cookies in several ways, starting from the browser level to the OS level. We’ll also list down which apps you can use for a more comprehensive protection.

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How to Block Cookies in Chrome

Chrome is currently the most popular web browser in the world, despite the fact that Google makes a lot of money by invading the user’s privacy to sell them better stuff. With this in mind, Google spends a huge fortune and resources to develop the Chrome browser just to offer it to the public for free. This alone makes you want to suspect the real motive behind Google Chrome.

In the latest Chrome version, it is no longer possible to block all cookies entirely. You can only choose to delete all cookies when you close the browser.

Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Chrome for desktop:

1. Open the Chrome browser.
2. Go to Menu > Settings.
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on Advanced > Content settings.
4. Click on Cookies.
5. Click on Block third party cookies.
6. You may also choose Keep local data only until you quit your browser. However, the cookies will still be saved to your browser and persist until you close it.
7. Close the Settings tab and you’re done.

Chrome for Android

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Chrome for Android:

1. Go to Menu > Settings.
2. Choose Site settings.
3. Choose Cookies.
4. To block Cookies entirely, touch the slider so that it moves to the left and turns to grey.
5. You can also tick off Block third-party cookies.

Hit the back button three times to return to the home screen.

Chrome for iOS

As discussed above, it is not possible to block cookies entirely on Chrome for iOS. What you can do is delete all third-party cookies. To do this, tap Options from the home screen. Navigate to Privacy > History > Cookies, then tap on Clear third party cookies. Unfortunately, this is not the same as disabling or blocking them.

How to Block Cookies on Firefox

Firefox is one of the best browsers for users who are concerned about their privacy. However, you might need to do some manual setting up to make full use of its privacy settings, including cookie management.

The Firefox desktop version for Windows, macOS, and Linux are all the same, so we’ll be grouping them together here. So if you want to block cookies when you’re browsing using Firefox, follow the instructions below for each version.

Firefox for Mac, Windows, and Linux

1. Click Menu, which is the three vertical lines on the right-most side of the address bar, and scroll down to Options (gear icon). This should open the about: preferences page.
2. Click Privacy & Security from the sidebar menu.
3. Under Browser Privacy, you will see Enhanced Tracking Protection. You have three options: Standard, Strict, and Custom. Click on Custom.
4. Beside Cookies, click the dropdown and choose All third party cookies or All cookies depending on your preferences.
5. Close the tab and your changes will be automatically saved.

Firefox for Android

Not all desktop add-ons work for Firefox for Android so there are some minor changes to the settings page. Here are the steps on how to turn off cookies for Firefox for Android:

1. Open the Firefox browser and tap on Menu.
2. Go to Settings, then choose Privacy.
3. Tap on Cookies. Choose either Enabled, excluding 3rd party or Disabled.
4. Tap the back button a couple of times until you return to the regular web view.

Firefox for iOS

Firefox for iPhones and iPads is a lot different from the Android version because it has to follow Apple’s strict regulations. Because of this, most add-ons and features on the Android version are not applicable to the iOS version, including the ability to block cookies. And this is the same for other browsers on iOS, except for Safari. Only Safari has the option to block cookies on iOS.

But even though this is the case, you can still use other privacy settings on Firefox.

Tap on the menu at the bottom of the page and tap on Settings. Scroll down and tap Tracking Protection. This is turned on by default, but you can choose what protection level you want: Standard or Strict.

Firefox on iOS also allows users to delete cookies. To do this, go back to Settings > Data Management, then tap Clear Private Data at the bottom. This would delete all the items you have enabled on the Data Management page. If you want to disable all cookies, turn off Cookies under Data Management instead.

How to Disable Cookies in Safari

When it comes to privacy, Safari is a lot better compared to Google Chrome. However, Safari does not support blocking third-party cookies. It is all-or-nothing for Safari. This basically forces most users to either accept all cookies or disable them altogether.

Safari for Mac

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Safari for Mac:

1. Open Safari, then click Safari > Preferences.
2. Click on the Privacy tab, then tick off the Block all cookies box.

Close the window and relaunch Safari for the changes to take effect.

Safari for iOS

Just like all the other iOS browsers, Safari no longer allows users to block only third-party cookies for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. However, you can disable cookies entirely.

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Safari for iOS:

1. Open the Safari app.
2. Tap on Settings > Safari.
3. Tap on Block All Cookies until the slider moves to the right and turns green.

Press the Home Button to exit.

How to Block Cookies in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has been around for as long as we can remember, and it has been the default browser for the Windows operating system, until Microsoft Edge came along. But despite the appearance of Edge, IE is still popular because of its base of loyal users.

Internet Explorer for Windows

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Internet Explorer for Windows:
1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Go to Settings > Internet options.
3. Go to Privacy tab > Advanced.
4. Choose how your cookies are managed. If you want to block all cookies altogether, uncheck Always allow session cookies.

Unlike most browsers, IE allows users to handle cookies for each website visited. It is quite helpful, but a lot of users find this feature annoying.

How to Turn Off Cookies in Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is the modern version of the Internet Explorer and it is bundled with all computers running Windows 10. It is quite a decent browser, but just like Windows 10, it still needs some improvement when it comes to privacy and security features. It sends far too much personal telemetry back to the Microsoft mothership.

Here are the instructions on how to manage your cookies when using Edge for Windows:

1. Open Microsoft Edge.
2. Navigate to Menu > Settings.
3. Scroll down the settings sidebar, then click Advanced settings > View advanced settings.
4. Scroll down the advanced settings menu, then click Privacy & Services > Cookies.
5. Choose either Block all cookies or Block only third-party cookies from the dropdown menu.
6. Exit the settings and restart your browser.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies, usually named cookie.txt, are very small files that are saved on your web browser or your computer whenever you visit a website. Cookies are generally composed of 255 characters or less, and it is created when you first visit a website that wants to save your information. The cookie.txt file usually saves the user’s name, a coded number, an expiration date, and the domain name of the website you visited.

When the user returns to the website, the cookie then informs the site that your computer has been there before and it reminds the web server of your previous activities and preferences when you first visited the site. Some of the information that is stored include what pages you opened, what you did on those web pages, how many times you’ve visited the site, what your language preferences are, your device’s IP address, and your login details.

So, for example, you left some items in your Amazon cart when the browser suddenly crashed. The next time you open the Amazon website, the items on your cart will still be there and you can continue with what you’re doing without having to do all the things you’ve previously done on the website. This is the same for all of the other websites.

The data gathered from the cookies allow websites to provide easier logins and authentication, a more personalized experience based on your preferred settings and language, improved shopping experience, customized ad delivery, and more. So when you think about it, cookies are not entirely a bad thing.

There are two types of cookies:

Session cookies – Session cookies enable websites to recognize you and save the information you provided as you move from page to page within the same website. For example, online shopping sites use session cookies to keep track of the items you placed in your shopping cart as you move from one product page to another. Without session cookies, you’ll find that your shopping cart will be empty when you checkout because your shopping activities from the previous pages will not be remembered.

Session cookies only store the data about your activities during your visit to the website. The moment you close the browser, the session cookies will be lost and the website will no longer recognize you when you come back to the site.

Persistent cookies – Persistent cookies, on the other hand, can exist for a longer period of time until they expire or they are deleted. These cookies allow the website to recognize you continuously. To do this, the web server plants a small text file containing a unique ID tag on your device, while storing a matching file on the server. The next time you visit the site, your browser sends this cookie over to the web server, allowing the website to retrieve the matching file in its storage.

Persistent cookies can remember your preferences and settings, such as your login information, font size preference, and language selection, so that the website can offer you a more personalized browsing experience. For your security, your login details are usually encrypted by the web server before it gets saved in a cookie.

Should You Delete or Block Cookies?

Deleting cookies on your browser is not bad. In fact, it is recommended to delete cookies when you’re experiencing issues with your browser. When you delete cookies, it won’t have a significant impact on your browsing experience because you can still access websites and go about your online activities. The only difference is that the websites you visit won’t remember your previous preferences, such as your location, preferred language, and other factors that would optimize your visit.

Some cookies are also dangerous, especially if they’re in the wrong hands. For example, viruses that steal website cookies can use the data in those cookies to hijack a user’s session or sell it to third-party advertisers for revenue purposes.

Using a VPN to Protect Your Online Privacy

Another option you should consider is to use a virtual private network or VPN to block all cookies and other software that might track your online activities and browsing history. Using a VPN allows you to browse the internet while your identity and location remain hidden.

A VPN masks your IP address and assigns a temporary IP address so the websites you visit won’t be able to trace it back to you. It will also make it impossible for these websites to associate your browsing activities to your real IP address. Plus, your data is encrypted so you don’t have to worry about data leaks.

If you want complete privacy protection, using a VPN should help you achieve that goal.

Do Not Track Feature

Most browsers have a Do Not Track option, or something similar to it, that is supposed to prevent websites from tracking your activities. When you activate this feature in the browser, it tells the websites that you visit that you do not want to be tracked. Unfortunately, users don’t have much control because it is voluntary and websites are not obligated to obey your request for anonymity.

Turning on this feature will not affect your browsing experience and your information will remain secure. However, this does not guarantee that you won’t be tracked.

Most browsers also offer different cookie filtering options:
● Allow all cookies
● Allow third person cookies
● Block all cookies

A lot of websites rely mostly on first-party cookies to offer basic functionality and enhance the visitors’ experience. Blocking all internet cookies breaks many web pages, affecting your browsing experience. It is either you can’t use them at all or the websites suffer from reduced functionality.

First-party cookies are generally useful, and sometimes essential for the running of the websites, and they are actually not the ones that track you. So for most users, blocking third-party cookies is already enough to protect their privacy.

Keep in mind that blocking third-party cookies may still break the websites you are trying to access, but it’s a compromise most users are willing to make. Plus, only a small number of websites rely on third-party cookies. Blocking them will only have a minimal impact on your overall browsing experience.

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