Cookies are a pervasive part of the modern browsing experience. These bits of code allow sites to identify you, log you in automatically, and even track you across the web. How should savvy Opera users handle cookies for privacy without breaking the web? Read on for a comprehensive cookie education.
Cookies 101 – A Quick Technical Primer
Before we dive into cookie management, let‘s cover some cookie basics.
Cookies are small text files that sites place on your device to store data. My site‘s cookie holds data like your username, while third-party cookies store data for advertisers, social networks, and more.
Cookies can be categorized in several ways:
- Session vs. persistent – Session cookies expire when you close the browser. Persistent cookies stick around for a set time period or until manually deleted.
- Secure vs. non-secure – Secure cookies only transmit via HTTPS for safety. Non-secure cookies also go over HTTP.
- First-party vs. third-party – First-party cookies come from the current site domain. Third-party cookies come from other sites‘ domains.
When you request a site, cookies stored on your device get attached to the HTTP request headers. The site then reads these cookies to identify you, deliver personalized content, and more.
Now let‘s see how Opera gives you control over these cookies.
Step 1 – Clear Out Existing Cookies
If you want a fresh start, clearing your cookies only takes a few clicks:
- Click the menu button (three horizontal bars) in the top right corner.
- Select Privacy & Security > Clear Browsing Data.
- Check the "Cookies and other site data" box and click Clear Data.
Poof! Opera just deleted all cookies from your device, including third-party ones that may have been tracking you.
Step 2 – Manage Ongoing Cookie Behavior
For ongoing management, Opera offers several cookie-related settings:
- Block third-party cookies – Stops cross-site tracking cookies for more privacy.
- Clear cookies on exit – Automatically erases cookies each browsing session.
- Allow/block all cookies – Master on/off switch for enabling/disabling cookies.
I recommend always blocking third-party cookies. To take it a step further, install an ad/tracker blocker like uBlock Origin or Ghostery for Opera. These extensions maintain massive block lists to catch more sneaky cookies from advertisers and third parties.
Step 3 – Audit Specific Cookies
Want to see exactly what cookies a site has set? Here‘s how:
opera://settings/siteDatainto the address bar and hit enter.
- Click on each site and cookie to view details like creation time, expiration, and data stored.
For example, I noticed
examplesite.com has a
_ga cookie storing my unique user ID number for 2 years! Good to know.
Step 4 – Stop Sneaky Redirects and Popups
One last way Opera protects you is by disabling shady redirects and popups. Browse to Site Settings > Pop-ups and Redirects and toggle them off. This prevents you from getting bounced around to sketchy sites.
Cookie Management Compared
How does Opera stack up to other browsers?
- Safari – Excellent built-in tracking prevention, but less flexibility than Opera.
- Firefox – Robust tracking protection and cookie controls once you change settings.
- Chrome – Weaker out-of-the-box protection but supports extensions.
Overall, Opera provides a nicely balanced set of configurable tools to handle cookies on your terms.
The web may be fueled by cookies, but that doesn‘t mean you have to surrender your browsing data. With the techniques above, you can take control of cookies in Opera and browse on your own terms.