How to Find Tracking Cookies on My Computer

by Todd Roy

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.

Internet Explorer

1

Open Internet Explorer on your computer.

2

Select “Tools” from the menu bar located along the top of the screen.

3

Click on “Internet Options.”

4

Select “Browsing History” from the menu.

5

Select “Settings.”

6

Click on “View Files” and select “Cookies” to view files.

7

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.

Firefox

1

Open the Firefox browser on your computer.

2

Click on “Tools” on the menu bar located at the top of the screen.

3

Select “Options” from the drop-down menu.

4

Select the “Privacy” icon.

5

Click on “Show Cookies” to view files.

6

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

1

Open the Safari browser on your computer.

2

Select “Preferences” on the menu bar.

3

Click on the “Security” option.

4

Select “Show Cookies” to view files.

5

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.

Tip

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

About the Author

Todd Roy has been writing professionally since 1984. He is a former sportswriter and journalist for two daily newspapers in Minnesota and was a featured columnist for "The Olive," a regional political-satire publication. He has a professional certificate for journalism and photography from the Rochester University Center.

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