The main purpose of cookies is to make life on the Internet more comfortable. The little data files can however also be used for tracking purposes. They are needed but at the same time very controversial. I have touched the subject quite a few times here on Ghacks. In How To Whitelist Cookies And Delete The Rest Regularly and Configure Firefox To Delete All Cookies On Exit But Select Ones I explained how to make sure you'd only keep a set of "good" cookies while deleting the rest regularly to avoid tracking and spying.
Sometimes though you may want to see which cookies are written to the system in realtime. While you could configure your browser to display warnings about each cookie that is about to be written, it is often not the most comfortable thing to do considering that it breaks the workflow big time.
The new Nirsoft application WebCookiesSniffer on the other hand deals with cookies without interrupting the browsing experience. The program requires the free software WinPcap Capture Driver or Microsoft's Network Monitor Driver to capture cookies in realtime. You can alternatively try the Raw Socket method which is however less reliable than the other two options.
When you first start the program you are asked to pick a capture method and network adapter. The program will then pick up all new cookies that are created on the system. The program itself is browser independent which means that it will display cookies from all web browsers installed on the system.
Each cookie is displayed with its host name, request path, length, count and string. When you select a cookie all of its values are displayed in the lower half of the screen. There are no options to edit or delete which is unfortunate. As is that you cannot link a cookie to the website that triggered its creation.
The portable software comes with the usual assortment of exporting options. You can create HTML reports or save selected cookies as text, xml or csv files.
The ability to edit or delete cookies would come in handy. As would an option to display the website that triggered the cookies creation. Finally, an option to filter by browser would be handy as well.
Windows users can download the latest version of WebCookiesSniffer from the official Nirsoft project website. The program is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the Microsoft Windows operating system.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.