Find out how many cookies Internet sites save to your system

A cookie is a little snippet of data that websites can save to systems of users connecting to them. While web browsers ship with options to block cookies by default or prompt users for action, the default way of handling cookies is to allow them to be saved automatically.

Cookies are not necessarily bad as they can be used for a variety of legitimate purposes such as saving the logged in state of a user or site preferences without account.

Cookies do have a bad reputation though which comes from the fact that they are used for tracking purposes. Generally speaking, you need to distinguish between first and third party cookies.

First party cookies are saved by the hostname you are on. If you visit Ghacks and my site would save a cookie to your system, that would be a first party cookie.

Third party cookies on the other hand are saved by external domain names, say a Facebook or Google ads cookie. This only happens if the site has embedded third party scripts on the other hand most of the time.

So, if you see Google Analytics or Google Ads being used on a site, chance is high that Google third party cookies are saved to your system.

Since services that drop cookies on systems can process those cookies whenever sites that embed their scripts are accessed, it is possible to use them for tracking purpose.

Find out how many cookies are saved on your computer right now

The first thing you may want to check is how many cookies are saved on your system right now. Note that cookies are browser and profile dependent. If you use multiple browsers or different profiles, then you will notice that cookies are independent of each other in this case.

Firefox native

firefox cookies

  1. Tap on the Alt-key on your keyboard and select Tools > Options.
  2. Switch to Privacy and select Show Cookies. Note that this is only visible on the page if you have set the history to "use custom settings for history".
  3. The cookies window displays sites and the cookies they have saved to your system.

Google Chrome (native)

chrome cookies

  1. Load chrome://settings/cookies in the browser's address bar.

Internet Explorer (native)

internet explorer cookies

  1. Press the Alt-key and select Tools > Internet Options.
  2. Select the General tab if it is not active and click on the Settings button.
  3. Here you need to click on View files which opens the temporary Internet files folder in Windows Explorer.

Third-party programs

  1. IE Cookies View displays all Internet Explorer cookies saved to the system (Windows-only).
  2. Mozilla Cookies View does the same for Mozilla-based browsers (Windows-only).
  3. Chrome Cookies View does the same for Chrome-based browsers (Windows-only).

Find out which cookies a site saves to your system

The easiest way to find out how many cookies a site saves to your system is to use the Developer Tools that are included in your browser of choice.

Firefox

firefox display cookies

  1. Hit F12 to open the Developer Tools of the browser.
  2. Switch to the storage tab here and load websites as usual in the browser.
  3. Once you do, all cookies that a site saves are displayed here among other information.

Google Chrome

chrome display cookies

  1. Hit F12 to open the Developer Tools window in Chrome.
  2. Switch to resources and there to cookies.
  3. Here you find all cookies listed by the site in the active tab.

Internet Explorer

display ie cookies

  1. Hit F12 to open the Internet Explorer Developer Tools.
  2. Switch to Network > Details, and there to cookies.
  3. All cookies saved by the site in the active tab are listed here.

What you can do with those information

Now that you know how many and which cookies sites save to your system, you may want to do something about it. One of the easiest options is to disable third-party cookies completely in the browser.

Firefox: Press Alt, select Tools > Options, then Privacy > Use custom settings for history under History, and there Never next to "accept third-party cookies".

Chrome: Load chrome://settings/ in the browser, click on show advanced settings, then on Content Settings. There you check "block third-party cookies and site data".

Internet Explorer: Tap on the Alt-key and select Tools > Internet Options. Switch to Privacy and click on Advanced there. Check "Override automatic cookie handling" and switch third-party cookies to block.

Opera: Load opera://settings/, switch to Privacy & security, and make sure "block third-party cookies and site data" is checked there.

You can also switch the settings to prompt instead. This will displays a prompt whenever a site wants to save a cookie to your system.

An alternative to that are browser extensions that may provide you with a variety of excellent features. Here is a small selection of tools:

Cookie Controller for Firefox improves cookie management in the browser.

Self-Destructing Cookies for Firefox removes cookies automatically when you leave a site.

Tab Cookies for Chrome deletes cookies once you close a tab.

Favor another add-on? Please share it in the comment section below.

Now Read: How to delete cookies on a computer

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Find out how many cookies Internet sites save to your system
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The guide walks you through the steps of finding out which cookies a site saves on your computer when you connect to it.
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Responses to Find out how many cookies Internet sites save to your system

  1. Tom Hawack September 9, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    A very good thing that these 3d-party cookies be reminded here, and a very bad thing that this feature is not an opt-in one moreover when it is known that 80% or so of new users of a browser take default options as they are.

    Cookies, as mentioned in this article, are not basically a bad thing, like canvas processing more recently for instance, but unfortunately, even with 3d-part cookies moved out, they have become quasi systematic when used as a simple tracking feature. It's all what you use them for, like many things. Problem here is that it's rather what they are used for rather than what you use them for.

  2. CHEF-KOCH September 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I prefer CCleaner with the option system watching enabled, or Sandboxie. Both can clean cookies every time you close the browser or exclude the one you like to keep. The problem about addons are that it can't clean all cookies such flash or other "intelligent" cookies because how can they clean it if Firefox if still opened? The browser needs to be fully closed to delete everything and that's the biggest problem. There are some external addon cleaners like BetterPrivacy have an option for these cases, but that doesn't work every time.

    Some AV's also include some options like Kaspersky's "Privacy Cleaner" option.

    But personally I prefer CCleaner, it's small, fast, free and it's configurable via winapp2.ini.

  3. Hans van Aken September 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    If you are using CCleaner Free you can see the cookies stored:
    Options > Cookies > Cookies on Computer > Cookies to keep.
    Those on the left side will be deleted when CCleaner is run.
    There also is an option to show cookies in WinPatrol.
    Self-Destructing Cookies is fine.

  4. NiHouMa September 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    I use in FF the add-on Self-Destructing Cookies 0.4.5 in combination with KeepassX.

    • Boris September 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

      Self-Destructing Cookies is buggy. I use it too, but it leaves about 10% of cookies on the system for hours.

  5. IowaMan September 9, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Another Chrome option for managing cookies is Vanilla Cookie Manager - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/vanilla-cookie-manager/gieohaicffldbmiilohhggbidhephnjj
    This extension gives you a lot of control, even for specific pages within a site.

  6. Pants September 9, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    Cookie Controller >> https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/cookie-controller/

    Been using it for at least a couple of years : per domain (and also you can set a default setting): deny all, allow/deny DOM, allow/deny 3rd party, allow domain as session only or allowed

    Except for approx 20 sites, I never see any cookies. These 20 odd sites are also excluded in my CCleaner. They are simply a handful of sites that require them for logins, or in the case of about five, to remember the color scheme or session settings (dark theme on Ars Technica for example). Eveything else is blocked. In other words - all dom, all 1st domain cookies, all 3rd parties are blocked by default.

    Basically - what I'm saying is the best approach (IMO) is to blacklist everything then allow a whitelist. Eg: RequestPolicy does the same thing regards allowing 3rd party content/contact - blacklist the lot, then allow exceptions. Same with header referrals - forge/block/blank the lot and then allow some to use the actual referral where it is necessary (eg top of my head, discogs talking to s.pixogs to retrieve the thumbnails and images of album covers). While it may be a PITA initially to sort out what works and how to do it (add in NoScript, local Privoxy blocks, Ghostery blocks, AdBlock Plus etc and other extensions), over time you will end up with the sites you visit the most all working nicely (with logins, saved passwords, forums + comments, cookies if required etc etc) but everything else on a much better security/privacy level

    Note: If my FF is too tightly secured that something breaks - I can use my chrome portable or opera portable or palemoon portable etc (each has various elements of security relaxed a little). But don't compromise on your main browser.

    /end of rambling .. must. find. pants

  7. Biil, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Setting 3rd party cookies to Never in FF puts the Facebook Scrabble game into a loop trying to load itself. :(

    Thanks for the article all the same, Martin! Still very useful.

  8. Michael Fisher September 10, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    Re. "Never accept 3rd party cookies" [Firefox]
    [1] I set this up
    [2] Then went through my cookie cleaning exceptions in CCleaner making sure the exceptions were for any 3rd party
    [3] Ran a CClean of cookies

    RESULT:-
    Youtube "thinks" I'm not signed into Google+ so I can't comment or manage my channels
    Can't switch my Google+ accounts because...
    [1] Google+ "thinks" I'm signed out of all Google+ when I'm not
    [2] Clicking on any of my Google+ sign-in pages does nothing

    FOR A CHECK:-
    Changed Firefox settings back to accept all cookies
    Now I have access to a Google+ account immediately which demonstrates that I was signed in all the time above when Youtube/Google thought I wasn't]

    Therefore I cannot use "never accept 3rd party cookies" because Firefox doesn't appear to have an exceptions list for the "Never accept..." option

    • Martin Brinkmann September 10, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      You could change the setting to "from visited" which should resolve the issue.

  9. RodsMine September 10, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    My FF v32 doesn't have a developer tool storage tab...

    Cookie Monster allows you to set permissions on a per site basis. Selective Cookie Delete allows you to white-list and black-list cookies and delete black-listed cookies on demand or then you can have FF use Selective Cookie Delete preferences when it deletes cookies upon exit.

  10. Charles December 20, 2015 at 2:07 am #

    Greetings.

    I use FireFox 42.0, and do not except cookies. I use the exceptions list for 3-4 I want to let in. According to Firefox, these are the only cookies that should be on my computer. I thought this was the case, because Firefox's "Show cookies" would only show those that were allowed as exceptions. I hit F12 and went to storage, and no cookies show.

    Yet when I downloaded CCleaner, it found about 20 of them. I blocked them in Firefox, which I shouldn't have to do, since I don't accept cookies, but even that doesn't work, they show up anyway. Wikipedia has about four, then Google (even though I don't use Google), and others. I use Self-Destructing Cookies ans Blur, and they do nothing.

    Firefox's privacy controls are a sham, there do make you think you can control them when you can't. Is there any way to keep unwanted cookies out of my computer while still allowing the 3-4 I want?

    Thanks, Charles

  11. deepa October 14, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    How many cookies can you save for your webapp on a browser?
    1
    2
    50
    Depends on the browser

    • Anonymous October 15, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      1
      2
      50
      Depends on the browser

    • Anonymous October 15, 2016 at 8:48 am #

      depends on browser

  12. deepa October 15, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    which of the following can affect the usage of cookies.

    network
    browser
    webapp server machine
    webapp source code

    pls tell me

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