Who tracks you when you’re online? Everyone. From email to web sites to session IDs to cookies to logs to advertising. Someone out there is watching your every move.
Can you do anything about it? Yes. And no. Watching you is an ubiquitous activity. Everyone is out to gather information about you whether you like it or not. Here’s one way to wash away a few tracks.
The Paranoid Mac Life
We have a familiar saying at Mac360: If everyone is out to get you, paranoia is the right attitude to have. And, everyone is out to get information from you, so a little paranoia might help your peace of mind.
When Mac users begin worrying about protecting your online identity, you can be sure a few Mac app developers are not far behind.
The latest is Washing Machine. It’s a Mac app that aims more at peace of mind than cleansing your tracks online.
When you’re online, your Mac collects information, too. Information about you. Browsers get cookies. Your Mac stores your travels in cache and history files. While it’s difficult to stop others from tracking your online habits, you can take matters into your own hands and remove incriminating information from your Mac.
Washing Machine does it with Clean Lists. Set up a list of what you want cleaned, and Washing Machine cleans it.
Think of iTunes and iPhoto. Both have libraries. One of music and movies. The other of photos and movie clips. Washing Machine has a Library, too. It holds information about what you want cleaned.
For example, it will look for five different web browsers and other apps that collect and store cookies, history files, and cache files. Clean with a click. Secure Cleaning wipes the data so clean that even recovery apps can’t find it.
Cookies are a menace and a godsend. They’re valuable, yes. But they can be used against you in advertising. Washing Machine lets you manage cookies.
To be fair, Safari and most Mac browsers let you view and delete cookies. Cookie data is arcane anyway, but the information is still a trail.
My two favorite functions in Washing Machine are the Schedule and My Cleanlist. Cleanlist is what you expect. A list of what you want cleaned.
Combine that list to the Schedule and you have a nearly Set It And Forget Method to clean your end of the data collecting pipeline.
The Schedule function takes the Cleanlists and runs them according to a schedule you set. So, you can clean your Mac many ways. Temporary files. Caches. Histories. Cookies. Even Bookmarks. Do it automatically or manually.
Is all this attention to paranoia really worthwhile?
After all, when you’re online you’re still leaving pieces of information on sites you visit. You can’t delete that information so easily.
The answer depends on your level of paranoia and the value of data in cookies, histories, and caches. If there’s incriminating evidence of any kind, an app like Washing Machine is worthy. Otherwise, there are plenty of apps and methods for deleting the same information for a lot less, though this app is easy to use for the fearful.