Trust and Privacy Online
How to look for cookies on your computer – and disable them
Any Internet user reading this report can find out how extensive the “cookies” phenomenon is by reading his or her own cookie file.
Finding cookies on a Windows computer
On a Windows machine, click the “Start” button, go to pop up menu to “Find” and then click on “Files or Folders.” When the “Find all Files” window pops up make sure the “Name & Location” screen is open and type “cookies” on the line for “Named.” Make sure the search is being conducted on your “local hard drive” (usually drive C) and then click “Find Now.” Open the cookies text document. A cookie set by CNN’s Web site, for example, will begin “.cnn.com TRUE …” In Netscape, you can delete a cookie by clicking on it and hitting the delete key. Be sure to save your edited cookie file. In Internet Explorer, go to “Tools,” select Internet Options. Under the “General” tab, select the “Settings” button and the “View Files.” Click on the “name” header to alphabetize the files, then scroll down to the files that begin with cookies. Individually delete each cookie file that you wish to remove.
Finding and disabling cookies on a Macintosh computer
If you’re a Macintosh user, finding your cookies is a little different and depends on which browser you use. If you use Netscape, go to your systems folder and select “preferences.” In the folder, there is a text file called “MagicCookies” which lists all of the cookies on your hard drive. This file is for viewing only and cannot be edited. If you would like to edit your cookie file, you will need to download a free piece of software called “CookieCutter” at http://www.macdownload.com/ that allows you to edit your cookie file selectively. To disable cookies in Netscape, open a Communicator window and pull down the “Edit” menu and select “Preferences,” and then “Advanced.” Select one of the four levels of protection you desire, and then click OK. Re-start your browser to put your choice into effect.
If you use Internet Explorer, open a browser window, pull down the “Edit” menu, select “Preferences.” Scroll down the menu and double-click on “Cookies.” All of the cookies on your computer will be listed along with choices from “never ask” (or accept all cookies) to “never accept.”
Disabling cookies on a Windows computer
Please note: All information is for the latest version of each browser.
Launch Netscape and open a new browser window. Select the “Edit” pull down menu, and on the menu select “Preferences.” In the white “Category:” column, select “Advanced.” In the Cookies section, Netscape gives you four choices–to accept all cookies, to accept only the cookies that get sent back to the originating server (and thus do not stay on your hard drive), to disable all cookies, or to warn you every time you are being asked to accept a cookie. Select your desired option and click OK. Close and then re-start Netscape to begin browsing with your selected level of protection.
- Internet Explorer:
Launch Internet Explorer and open a new browser window. Pull down the “Tools” menu and select “Internet Options.” In Internet Options, select the top “Security” tab. Select the “Internet” icon (a globe) and click on the “Custom Level” button. Scroll down through the options until you encounter “cookies.” IE breaks up its options for cookies that are stored on your computer and those which are not. To block stored cookies, go to the first section and select Disable. To be warned each time your computer is asked to receive a cookie, select Prompt. To block or be warned about unsaved cookies, select Disable or Prompt in that section.
For more information and detailed instructions on how to find, disable and delete cookies, check the State of Michigan Attorney General’s site on cookies at: http://www.ag.state.mi.us/AGWebSite/inet_info/ii_cookie01.htm.
A good discussion of the pros and cons of cookies can be found at: http://www.cookiecentral.com/cm002.htm