An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie or simply cookie), is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the user’s previous activity. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). Cookies can also store passwords and form content a user has previously entered, such as a credit card number or an address.
Are cookies bad? They can be if you’re overly concerned about privacy, security, and online tracking mechanisms. How can you control and manage cookies? Let me count the ways. There’s the manual process which requires you to find the cookies stored on each browser then delete them. And, there’s the automated background process using an app called, oddly enough, Cookie, which is mostly set it and forget.
The problem with managing cookies is that they’re often considered a necessary evil. Most website require cookies for proper navigation, and most cookies remain somewhat innocuous; they track, and that’s about it. Mostly.
Some cookies are more evil, particularly Flash cookies. What the Cookie app does is free your browsers of cookies on a regular schedule. For example, every x-number of minutes all the collected cookies in your browser are deleted. Or, when you open a browser or quit a browser. That automatic-in-the-background cookie deletion should help ease your mind and it throws a monkey wrench into the plans of those who track indiscriminately.
Cookie can be setup with different strokes for different browsers, including independent schedules to remove cookies for each browser. You can also store specific website cookies as Favorites. Sites can be whitelisted, too, so you can keep the cookies coming from sites you trust.
Choose to have the Cookie icon displayed in the Mac’s Menubar or in the Dock or both. But once Cookie is setup it simply does the job of removing cookies in the background, which means you disrupt the website tracking progress regularly.
This is one of those Mac utilities that I install on every new Mac, and it’s on my Top 10 Recommended list because it just works. Quit a browser. Open the browser and cookies are gone.