Your Mac is probably infected with an internet scourge part useful, part evil. Cookies.
Web sites infect your Mac’s browser with cookies; little pieces of information that can be used to track what you do, what sites you visit, and which ads are displayed while you’re browsing online. What can you do? Kill them or manage them. One method is easy and free. Another is for the truly paranoid.
Evil In The Garden Of Cookies
Here’s a quick and easy way to see the cookies on your browser. Start with Safari. Click the Safari menu in the Menubar.
Then, select Preferences. Click the Security tab. Click the Show Cookies button.
Uh oh. That huge list is all the cookies that various and sundry web sites have placed (infected?) into your browser.
You can search, scroll and scan, and delete cookies one by one. Or click the Remove All button and they’re removed. Until you visit those sites the next time.
The problem with deleting all your browser’s cookies, paranoid or otherwise, is that many are useful.
A cookie, also known as a web cookie, browser cookie, and HTTP cookie, is a piece of text stored on a user’s computer by their web browser. A cookie can be used for authentication, storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data.
Google and other advertising networks love to infest your browser’s cookie stash so they can determine which sites you visit, what other ads you view.
Other cookies, like those from Amazon, are used to track what products you view so they can promote similar goods on future visits.
Enter The Cookie Manager
Cookie Stumbler is a Mac app that helps the paranoid manage cookies in the most popular Mac browsers—from Safari to Firefox, from Chrome to Chromium, from OmniWeb to Camino.
This makes it easier to manage the standard web browser cookie and Flash cookies that infect your Mac.
Cookie Stumbler works similar to anti-virus apps and scans your Mac for cookies that match known advertising and tracking cookies, as well as unidentified cookies.
Once you’ve set up Cookie Stumbler, and adjusted the basic criteria to match your needs (simple housecleaning vs. paranoid), it runs according to a customizable schedule.
It’s easy to check to see which browsers have which cookies, where they’re from, but not necessarily what they do.
The app isn’t as drastic as wholesale deleting of cookies in Safari’s Preferences, but it does the job, keeps cookies to a minimum, and gives you a little more control over you and your Mac’s online destiny.
Cookie Stumbler is not a cheap Mac app, and it provides functions that may not benefit every Mac browser user (depends more on the sites you visit, how much you don’t want others to know about your tracks, and how much you’re willing to pay to assuage your paranoia).