How to Remove Tracking Cookies

March 2011

Cookies are bits of text stored on a user’s computer by the Web sites they visit. Cookies can be used for authentication, storing your site preferences or anything else that can be saved as text data. Unfortunately they can also be used by ad tracking services to track the sites you visit online.

One step towards protecting your privacy is to delete the cookies in your browser.  Note that in addition to providing you with privacy from nosy ad tracking services, this will also delete any passwords or login information that you have saved in your frequently visited sites.

To Remove Tracking Cookies in Internet Explorer

  • Open Internet Options by clicking the Start button on your computer (bottom left-hand corner of your screen)
  • Select Control Panel
  • Select Internet Options
  • On the General tab, under Browsing history, click Delete
  • Select Cookies and click Delete; you may be asked to confirm that you want to delete them
  • Click OK

To Remove Tracking Cookies in Firefox

  • Open the Tools menu at the top of your browser window
  • Click on Clear Recent History
  • At the top of the pop-up window, set the time range to clear as Everything
  • Click the arrow next to Details to expand the menu and select Cookies from the list
  • Make sure that any items you do not wish to delete are unchecked
  • Click Clear Now

To Remove Tracking Cookies in Google Chrome

  • Click on the wrench icon at the top right of the browser toolbar
  • Select Options
  • Select the Under the Hood tab, usually found in the left hand tool bar
  • Click Content Settings
  • Next to Cookies, selecting “Clear cookies and other site data when I close my browser” will automatically keep cookies from being stored

To maximize privacy, recommends that you set your browser to block cookies by default. This will, however, cost you a substantial amount of Web browsing convenience. Some sites, like Google, require cookies to function properly. Without them, you will not even be able to properly log in! A good balance between maximum privacy and Web browsing convenience is blocking cookies by default and selectively whitelisting certain sites to allow them to use cookies. If a site stops functioning while cookies are blocked, simply add it to your browser’s cookie whitelist, ensuring full functionality of that site. For Chrome, Vanilla is a browser extension that serves as a whitelist for browser cookies, automatically blocking cookies from sites you don’t explicitly allow. Vanilla puts you in control of the cookies that you create with a simple cookie whitelist. It lives as an icon in the Chrome address bar and indicates whether or not the site is allowed to save cookies. Can Help You Manage Your Browser Settings, Maximizing Web Usability

With the software, you get expert recommendations on how to opt-out of several common ad tracking cookies, helping you ensure that ad tracking cookies are cleared on a regular basis, but not blocked altogether. This will maximize privacy while still allowing usability of Web sites like Google.