Internet cookies have been around since the beginning of the web, and for the most part they serve a useful purpose. But while most cookies are fairly innocuous, and even necessary, some are not.
We’re talking of course, about third-party cookies, and if you don’t know how to block them on your preferred web browsers, then get ready to learn.
Why Would You Want to Do This?
Most cookies exist for the sake of persistence. When you visit a website such as Facebook or Twitter, cookies let you stay logged until you log out again. This means that every time you visit that site, you will still be logged in, which saves you the time and effort of re-entering your password. If you clear you cookies, then you will be logged out (or rather, the browser will think you’re logged out because it will have no memory of you every visiting the site in the first place).
Third-party cookies are cookies placed on your device by a website other than the one you’re visiting. For example, say you visit a website and their advertiser(s) set a cookie–this allows that advertiser to track your visits to other websites. You probably don’t want this to happen.
You should also know that some websites might use third-party cookies that don’t constitute a privacy concern. Disabling these cookies might cause problems.
For example, you might try to view streaming video on a website, but the video originates from another source. In this case, you will likely see an error telling you that the video cannot be viewed. Often, the error message will provide little clue as to what the problem may be, but if you have third-party cookies disabled, that is most likely the culprit.
Finally, your browser may be able to block most third-party cookies, but not necessarily all of them.
A Note on Do Not Track Options
Many browsers have a Do Not Track feature that’s supposed to serve a similar purpose. Activating the Do Not Track option in a browser tells every website you visit that you do not want your activities tracked. However, this is strictly voluntary, so websites are not obligated to obey it.
Turning this feature on will not affect your ability to visit or log into websites. Your private information will also remain safe including location information, shopping cart contents, and so on.
In short, it’s nice to have enabled, but it isn’t a replacement for disabling third-party cookies.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
First up is latest and final version of Internet Explorer. To turn on third-party cookie blocking, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner, then click “Internet Options” from the drop-down list.
Click the “Privacy” tab and set it to “Medium High”. This will block all third-party cookies.
When you’ve finished, click on the “OK” button to exit the Internet Options and commit the changes.
If you use the new Edge browser on Windows 10, then tap or click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the browser window. Select “Settings” at the bottom of the menu.
In the settings, tap or click on “View advanced settings”.
Now, in the advanced settings, under the Cookies heading, click the drop-down menu and select “Block only third party cookies”.
Close out the settings and Edge will now block third-party cookies.
On Firefox, click the three lines in the upper-right corner, then click “Preference”.
With the preferences open, note that there’s an option to turn on Firefox’s Do Not Track option. Below the Tracking preferences, click “Remember History” and then select “Use custom settings for history” option.
From the custom history settings screen, click the drop-down list next to “Accept third-party cookies” and then choose “Never”.
Your changes will be implemented immediately, so there’s no “OK” or “Apply” button to click.
Google Chrome for Desktop
On Chrome for desktops, click the three lines in the upper-right corner, then click “Settings”.
Scroll to the bottom of the settings and click “Show advanced settings” at the bottom of the settings screen.
On the advanced settings screen, click “Content settings…” under the Privacy heading.
With the content settings open, click the box next to “Block third-party cookies and site data”.
That’s it–you’re done, you can close the settings tab and go back to your regular browsing activities.
Google Chrome on Android
When you want to block third-party cookies on Chrome for Android, you need to click the three dots in the upper-right corner and choose “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
Under the Advanced heading, you’d think what you’re looking for would be in the Privacy settings…
…but all you will find in here worth noting is the Do Not Track option. If you don’t have it turned on, you might as well enable it now.
In order to designate which Cookies are allowed, you need to tap on “Site Settings” in the Advanced options, then tap “Cookies”.
In the Cookies settings, all you do is deselect “Allow third-party cookies”.
That’s it. Simply exit out of the settings and you’re done.
Apple Safari on OS X
On Safari for OS X, you will need to open the Preferences by clicking on the Safari menu, or using the old standard keyboard shortcut “Command + ,”.
With the preferences open, click the “Privacy” tab, then under “Cookies and website data” click “Allow fro current website only”. At the bottom of the Privacy tab, there’s also an option to turn on Safari’s Do Not Track feature.
Exit out of the preferences and you’re done.
Apple Safari on iOS
On Safari for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, you will need to tap open the “Settings” and then tap “Safari”.
On the Safari preferences screen, scroll to the “Privacy & Security” options. Here you will see Safari’s Do Not Track feature, and the “Block Cookies” option.
In the Block Cookies screen, click “Allow from Current Website Only” and exit out.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, blocking third-party cookies can have undesired consequences. On the one hand, you’re sure to be able to prevent many advertisers from being able to track your whereabouts. Obviously, that’s a good thing and very few people aren’t going to want to stop that.
On the other hand, blocking third-party cookies might disable features and functions. In order to get them back, you’ll have to unblock third-party cookies–there’s no middle ground.
So, if your needs are simple and you’re able to get by without said features and functions, then blocking third-party cookies may work quite well for you. Of course, you can always unblock them, use a website for the purpose you intended, and then block them again. That’s kind of an inconvenience, but if you value your privacy, then you may have to be willing to put up with it.