Cookies are a fundamental part of the modern Internet experience - if you've ever been browsing a website, left, then returned a few hours later to find you're still logged in, or seen items you planned to purchase still sitting in your shopping cart, cookies are to thank!
As people have become more aware of online privacy concerns, however, discussion - and mistrust - of cookies has increased.
Well, they're actually a very simple concept.
Cookies are data packets sent from a website to your computer or phone which contain information unique to you, such as your login data or settings.
When you leave and then return to that website, the data packets are sent from your hard disk to the site's server, enabling it to "remember" who you are and provide a personalized experience.
Cookies makes things easier not only for you - you won't have to keep logging in every time you refresh the page, for instance - but also for the website operator, who doesn't have to invest in tons of storage infrastructure in order to save each user's preferences or current shopping cart data.
The types of cookies received from and sent to the website you are visiting - and only the website you're visiting - are known as first-party cookies. These are the good, "ease of life" cookies.
What most people are concerned with when they talk about Internet cookies and privacy concerns, however, are third-party cookies. Third-party cookies can garner a lot of information about your online habits, potentially sharing these with advertisers who then use them for customer targeting.
Fortunately, if you're using a modern web browser, it's not difficult to manage which types of cookies you allow so you can take the good with the bad.
On this page, we're going to focus specifically on how to work with cookies on the Microsoft Edge browser.
Before we get into how to manage which types of cookies you allow on Microsoft Edge, you'll want to know how to clear cookies that are already present on your device.
This depends on if you want to delete all cookies or only third-party cookies/cookies from certain sites
First, open Microsoft Edge.
To delete all cookies:
Click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window, next to the profile icon. This will open the "Settings & More" menu, a drop-down list.
Click history, which will open a window that shows all your recent activity. At the top of the History window you'll notice another horizontal row of three dots, located between the magnifying glass and thumbtack icons.
Click on those three dots, then click clear browsing data, which will bring you to yet another page.
In the "Clear browsing data" window, set the Time Range to "All time" from the drop-down list.
Make sure "Cookies and other site data" is checkmarked, then press Clear now.
Once you've pressed Clear now the process will begin - this may take a minute if you have a long browsing history and you won't be able to browse the web throughout.
Once it's done, however, you'll have a clean slate - no more cookies!
To delete only certain third-party cookies, or only cookies from certain sites:
Click the three horizontal dots, and then click "Settings" on the drop-down list.
This will bring you to a new page. On the left-hand side of the screen you'll see a list, and toward the center you'll see "Cookies and site permissions." Click on it.
Click on Manage and delete cookies and site data, at the top of the page.
Finally, click the arrow next to "See all cookies and site data."
To remove only third-party cookies, click "Remove third-party cookies," then "Clear."
If you want to delete cookies from a certain site, find it in the list then click the down arrow next to it.
Then, click the trash can next to the cookies you want to remove.
Now, let's take a look at how to decide which types of cookies - if any - you want to allow to be stored on Microsoft Edge.
How to Permit or Block Cookies on Microsoft Edge
First, click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window.
Click "Settings" near the bottom of this list, which will open a new screen.
On the left-hand side of this new screen you'll see another list, towards the middle of which you'll see "Cookies and site permissions." Click on it.
From there, click "Manage and delete cookies and site data" at the top of the new page.
The section you'll see here is the central hub of cookie management for Microsoft Edge.
Let's go through each option one by one and how you should handle them.
The first option you'll see is "Allow sites to save and read cookie data."
If you want to block all cookies - first-party and third-party - click on the slider.
When you do this you'll see the option below it - the one related to third-party cookies - grayed out, since you've already just blocked third-party cookies.
As you can see Microsoft Edge recommends not blocking all cookies - the truth is that blocking all cookies will make browsing the Internet somewhat less convenient, or even make it near impossible to navigate certain sites.
If you want to block all cookies but allow specific sites to use them, this is possible by adding them to the "Allow" list - more on that below.
Below "Allow sites to save and read cookie data, you'll see the option to Block third - party cookies. Let's take a second to talk about what third-party cookies actually are.
It goes without saying that advertisers want to gain as much information as they can about potential customers, including browsing information.
It's incredibly for them to know what types of sites a person who wants a particular type of product is visiting, after all - they can establish certain connections.
Enter third-party cookies, which track you from site to site and build profiles of your online behavior.
You can go to a trusted website and get first-party cookies but, through a banner run by a third-party advertiser, receive these tracking cookies on your browser.
If there's one thing you'll certainly want to do to maintain your online privacy, it's disable third-party cookies.
Simply click on the slider next to "Block Third-Party cookies" and you're good to go!
This enables a newer way of using cookies, which is to predict which pages of a website you'll visit and have them pre-loaded so that you can access them quickly and easily.
If you want Microsoft Edge to be as quick as possible, go ahead and enable this by clicking on the slider.
This feature is not a privacy concern.
Clicking the arrow next to See All Cookies & Site Data lets you do just that - you'll be able to see what's on your system.
From here you can also remove only third-party cookies that are present. Do this by clicking "Remove third-party cookies" and then "Clear."
If you want to remove cookies from a certain site, find it in the list then click the down arrow next to it. Then, click the trash can next to the cookies you want to delete.
The Block & Allow options work in tandem with the "Allow sites to save and read cookie data" option.
Maybe you've left that activated, but there are certain sites you use frequently but don't want to allow to store cookies.
To block a specific website from using cookies, click "Add" in the Block section then type in the URL. Don't check "Include third-party cookies on this site" unless you want to allow it to use third-party cookies.
Alternatively, maybe you've opted to block all cookies (including first-party ones) but do trust certain websites and want to be able to log in into them easily.
To make exceptions for these websites, click on "Add" in the Allow section. Type in the appropriate URL. Only check "Include third-party cookies on this site" if you want to allow it to use third-party cookies, then click add.
If you want to remove all cookies every time you're done browsing, this is the option for you. Click on Clear browsing data on close, which will bring you to a new page with a new list.
Click the slider next to Cookies and other site data if you want all cookies to be removed whenever you're done using a website.
If you want this to happen only on certain websites, go back to the "Cookies and data stored / Cookies and site data" page.
Under Clear on exit, click "Add," then type in the URL of the website you want.
This section is self-explanatory - it just shows which sites you've put on the Allow list.
Microsoft Edge allows for a good degree of personalization when it comes to allowing or disallowing cookies. Remember that, no matter what people say about cookies, you always have control over which types of cookies you allow or whether you allow them at all.
You're now armed with the information you need to have a cookie-ful or cookie-less experience on Microsoft Edge. Happy browsing!
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