How to Find Tracking Cookies on My Computer

By Contributor

Updated May 06, 2020

Internet tracking cookies are text files websites leave on your computer to track your browsing history. Small pieces of information are downloaded onto your computer in simple text files whenever you visit a website that utilizes cookies to track your viewing history. This enables some sites to remember your identity and provide personalized service or faster access within the site. These cookies are typically referred to as first-party cookies and their file names will match those of website domains you have visited.

Some sites collect browsing and viewing information for demographic or sales purposes. These can be placed by ads located on the domain site you are visiting and are often referred to as third-party cookies. While most first-party tracking cookies are benign, some third-party tracking cookies may be planted with malicious intent. Regularly view and manage your cookies a regular basis to maximize your Internet security.

Firefox

Open the Firefox browser on your computer. Click on “Preferences” on the menu bar located at the top of the screen.

Selecting Preferences in Firefox.

Select "Privacy & Security" from the left-side column.

Selecting Privacy & Security under Firefox Preferences.

Scroll down to the section that says "Cookies and Site Data" and click on "Manage Data."

Cookies and Site Data under Firefox Privacy & Security preferences.

From here, you'll find a list of sites that currently have tracking cookies on your computer. You can select which ones you want to delete or click "Remove All" to delete all of them.

List of sites with cookies on computer in Firefox.

Search for file names that contain domain names you have not visited. These are most likely third-party tracking cookies that are tracking your browsing history to collect marketing data.

Safari

Open the Safari browser on your computer. Select “Preferences” on the menu bar.

Selecting Preferences in Safari.

Click on the “Privacy” option from the top of the window that pops up. Click on "Manage Website Data." If you wish to block all cookies outright, check the little box next to where it says "Block all cookies."

Selecting Privacy options in Safari.

From here, you'll see a list of sites with tracking cookies on your computer. Search for file names that contain domain names you have not visited. These are most likely third-party tracking cookies that are tracking your browsing history to collect marketing data.You can delete them individually or delete them all by selecting the "Remove All" button at the bottom of the window.

List of sites with cookies on computer in Safari.

Tips

Disabling third-party cookies in your internet browser options can help to prevent tracking cookies from being downloaded without hindering your browsing capabilities.

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