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How to Enable and Disable Cookies on Safari for Better Online Privacy

Cookies are those small data files that websites place on your device to identify your browser and track information about you. While cookies can sometimes be useful, they pose privacy risks in the form of targeted advertising, location tracking, and other forms of online monitoring.

If you use the Safari browser on your Apple devices, you have fine-grained control over cookies right at your fingertips. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore how to enable, disable, clear, and manage cookies in Safari on both desktop and mobile. By understanding your cookie options, you can take control of your privacy.

What Are Cookies and How Do They Work?

Before we dive into managing cookies on Safari, let‘s quickly understand what cookies are and how websites use them.

Cookies are text files that websites place on your device to identify your browser or mobile app when you visit them. They can store various types of data, including:

  • Login credentials and session IDs to keep you logged into a site.
  • Website preferences like theme, font size, or language.
  • Shopping cart contents and wish list items.
  • Online tracking IDs and activity history to target ads.

When you first visit a website, it adds a cookie to your device with a unique ID string. On your next visit, your browser sends this cookie back to the site. This is how sites recognize you and remember information about you.

According to Statista, over 25% of websites use cookie tracking, allowing them to monitor your browsing behavior across multiple sites.

Cookies set directly by the main site you visit are called first-party cookies. These usually serve a functional purpose like keeping you logged in.

However, many sites also allow third-party cookies from advertisers, social networks, and data brokers to track you. These cookies allow your activity to be monitored across different websites for targeted advertising.

Now let‘s see how to manage these cookies on Safari for better privacy.

Clearing All Cookies on Safari on Mac

If you want a completely fresh start, you can delete all existing cookies that Safari has stored on your Mac. This will sign you out of websites and remove any associated login or customization data.

Here is how to clear all cookies on Safari for Mac:

  1. Open the Safari browser on your Mac.

  2. Click on Safari > Preferences in the menu bar at the top.

  3. Go to the Privacy tab in the preferences pane.

  4. Click on Manage Website Data under the Cookies and website data section.

  5. This will open a new tab showing all websites with stored cookies and data. Click the Remove All button.

    Safari Preferences Showing Remove All Button

  6. Confirm that you want to remove all website data and cookies in the prompt.

Once the cookies are cleared, websites will no longer recognize your browser going forward. You‘ll have to re-enter login credentials and set site preferences again on your next visits.

Clearing cookies provides a clean slate at the cost of logging you out everywhere. It also removes your browsing history and cache, not just cookies.

According to CookiePro‘s 2021 report, the average Mac user has over 80 cookies and 3MB of website data stored in their browser. So clearing them provides a good privacy reset.

Deleting Safari Cookies on iPhone and iPad

The process works similarly on iOS. Here are the steps to clear all Safari cookies on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Scroll down and tap on Safari in the list.

  3. Tap on Clear History and Website Data on the Safari settings screen.

  4. Confirm again that you want to remove cookies and data.

    Clear History and Website Data on iOS

Once completed, you‘ll be logged out of websites and need to re-authenticate. This provides a clean slate and better privacy.

How to Disable New Cookies in Safari

Rather than nuking existing cookies, you can simply disable Safari from storing new cookies going forward. Here is how to block cookie storage on Safari:

On Mac

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy in the menu.

  2. Check the Block all cookies option.

  3. Confirm that you want to block all cookies.

    Block all cookies on Mac Safari

Now Safari will automatically prevent any new cookies from being set as you browse.

According to Mozilla, the average website tries to set over 20 cookies on a visit. So this can significantly boost your privacy.

On iPhone/iPad

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Safari.

  2. Turn on the switch for Block All Cookies.

  3. Tap Block All on the confirmation prompt.

    Block all cookies on iOS

This will stop Safari from storing any new cookies on your iPhone or iPad as well.

Blocking new cookies prevents tracking while allowing you to remain logged into existing sites. However, some sites may not work properly without cookie access, so you can toggle it off as needed.

Should You Disable Cookies in Safari?

There are reasonable arguments on both sides when it comes to blocking cookies in Safari:

Potential Benefits

  • Prevents tracking of your browsing activity by third-party sites.
  • Stops advertisers from targeting you based on your interests.
  • Reduce risk of having your identity or location tracked.
  • Slightly faster page loads by minimizing cookie overhead.
  • More privacy overall from online monitoring.

Potential Downsides

  • Gets you logged out of sites requiring login each time.
  • Loss of personalization features on sites you use.
  • Shopping carts, wishlists, and recommendations will be reset.
  • Some sites may not work properly without cookie access.
  • Less ad relevance based on your interests.

On balance, most privacy advocates recommend at least blocking third-party cookies to prevent tracking while allowing necessary first-party ones. Safari makes this easy.

But periodically clearing all cookies gives you a nice privacy reset at the cost of some website convenience. It depends on your preferences.

How to Re-Enable Cookies on Safari

If you need to allow cookies again after blocking them, just toggle the cookie settings back:

On Mac

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy
  2. Uncheck Block all cookies

On iPhone/iPad

  1. Open Settings > Safari
  2. Turn off Block All Cookies

This will once again let Safari store first and third-party cookies when you browse. Some existing cookies for sites you already visited may still be there until they expire.

Selectively Deleting Certain Site Cookies

Instead of removing all cookies in one shot, you can selectively delete cookies from specific sites only:

On Mac

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Manage Website Data
  2. Search for the website whose cookies you want to delete.
  3. Click Remove next to the site.

On iPhone/iPad

  1. Go to Settings > Safari > Advanced
  2. Tap Website Data
  3. Select the site to view and remove cookies.
  4. Tap Remove to delete cookies for only that site.

This allows you to surgically remove cookies on a per-site basis for better control and privacy.

How Safari Private Browsing Prevents Cookie Storage

Another way to manage cookies is by using Safari‘s Private Browsing mode. This prevents Safari from retaining any browsing history, cookies, or cache from sites you visit in that window.

To enable private browsing:

On Mac: Click File > New Private Window in the Safari menu.

On iOS: Tap the Tabs icon, then tap Private at the bottom.

Now cookies, history, and other site data will not be stored as you browse in that private window. Once you close it, normal cookie behavior resumes in regular Safari windows.

Think of private browsing as a "temporary incognito mode" that runs cleanly without any persisting cookies. It‘s useful when browsing sites where you don‘t want any activity tracked back to you.

Blocking Third-Party Cookies Specifically in Safari

Safari actually gives you a smart middle ground between blocking all cookies and allowing all cookies.

You can block third-party tracking cookies only while continuing to allow first-party cookies from sites you directly visit. Here‘s how:

On Mac: Go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy and check Prevent cross-site tracking.

On iOS: Go to Settings > Safari and turn on Prevent Cross-Site Tracking.

This strikes a nice balance for privacy. You can stay logged into websites that use first-party cookies, while preventing tracking across sites from third parties like ad networks.

Studies show a majority of tracking occurs via third-party cookies. So this option gives you the best of both worlds in most cases.

How Other Major Browsers Handle Cookie Management

Safari isn‘t the only browser that offers cookie controls. Here is a quick comparison of how other popular browsers let you manage cookies:

  • Chrome – Provides settings to clear cookies or block third-party cookies specifically. Certain extensions can also block cookies.

  • Firefox – Includes options to clear cookies and block third-party tracking cookies by default in settings.

  • Microsoft Edge – Allows deleting, blocking, and filtering cookies under the Cookies and Site Permissions menu.

  • Brave – This privacy-focused browser blocks third-party cookies and trackers by default. You can clear cookies or disable shield protections.

  • Tor Browser – Uses anonymizing routing and has the strictest cookie protections. No cookies are allowed by default in Tor.

So all major browsers now recognize the privacy importance of letting users control cookie behavior. But Safari makes it particularly easy on both mobile and desktop.

Additional Ways to Manage Cookies

Beyond Safari‘s built-in options, here are a couple other ways to control cookies:

  • Browser extensions – Ad blockers like uBlock Origin and Ghostery can block third-party tracking cookies specifically.

  • VPN service – Using a VPN routes your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, preventing sites from setting cookies on your real device IP address.

  • Privacy-focused search engines – Search providers like DuckDuckGo do not store cookies or trackers on your device.

So if Safari‘s cookie options don‘t meet your needs, these other privacy tools are worth considering too.

Key Takeaways on Managing Cookies in Safari

To recap, here are some key facts to remember about controlling cookies in Safari:

  • Cookies allow sites to identify your device and track activity across websites. They pose privacy risks.

  • You can clear all Safari cookies to reset your identity, at the cost of logging out of sites.

  • Blocking new cookies stops tracking while allowing existing logins. Some sites may break.

  • Safari makes it easy to block third-party tracking cookies only on both desktop and mobile.

  • Private browsing prevents any cookies from being stored temporarily during that session.

  • Other major browsers also offer cookie management, but Safari‘s controls are robust and simple to use.

  • Additional privacy options include browser extensions, VPNs, and private search engines.

By understanding how to manage cookies in the Safari browser, you can find the right balance of usability, functionality and privacy for your needs. Treat cookies carefully and selectively for the best browsing experience.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.