Internet Cookies: A Basic Introduction

by hmiller 28. October 2009 23:23

A cookie is a simple text file placed on your computer by websites you visit. When you revisit these sites, they retrieve the cookie information from your computer and uses it to identify you and sometimes to alter the website's display or add your preferences from a previous visit.

The information stored in a cookie is usually some sort of identification code, but sometimes includes more information about you. The following are possible because of cookies:

* Changes you make to the layout of a website, like background colors, fonts, etc., are saved for when you go back to the site.

* When you check “remember me on this computer”, your user name and password is automatically entered when you return.

* Shopping websites can remember what items you viewed, searched for, bought, or place in the shopping cart while you are on their site. They use this to make recommendations for you, etc.

* Polls and surveys remember that you have already voted and don't allow you to vote again.

* Websites that show the number of visitors to their site can keep an accurate count because they know you are a returning visitor.

The following are various ways to control the cookies saved on your computer.

Deleting Cookies

On Internet Explorer, click on Tools at the top of the page, then click Internet Options. You should automatically be directed to the General Tab. On an older version of IE, you will see the "Temporary Internet Files" heading and the button, "Delete Cookies...". Click "Delete Cookies...", then click Yes to confirm.

On IE7 or 8, you will see the "Browsing History" heading instead and a button that says "Delete...". From here, you will see a list of different Internet files that can be deleted. On IE7, you can either click "Delete Cookies" and click yes, or click "Delete All" and click Yes to clear all the Internet files. On IE8, check the box next to "Cookies", then click "Delete." If you want to deleted everything completely, even for your favorites, uncheck "Preserve Favorites website data".

Viewing Stored Cookies

Click Tools > Internet Options > General Tab from your IE window. Next to the delete buttons mentioned above is a "Settings" button. Click "Settings", then "View Files". This will show you all the cookies, files, and web images that have been saved on your computer. If you select a cookie from the list and double click it, you may get a warning message asking you if you want to continue. Click "Yes", and then you can see the text string the cookie contains.

Your can also delete all your cookies and other Internet files from here. Simply click Edit > Select All, then push the delete button on your keyboard, then click Yes.

Allowing (and Prohibiting) Cookies

From the IE browser, click Tools > Internet Options. Then click on the Privacy tab at the top. Under the "Settings" heading is a slider that has various levels of restriction from "Accept All Cookies" to "Block All Cookies". Move the slider to the setting that best suites you. To the right of the slider, there is a description of what each level will allow or block. The stricter settings may cause some websites to not function properly, so you may need to manually add the addresses of sites you approve of by clicking the "Sites" button under the slider. Click the "Default" button under the slider to set your privacy settings back to the default settings.

You can also set custom settings for your cookies by clicking on the "Advanced" button under the slider. Click "Advanced", then check "Override automatic cookie handling" to override the slider settings on the previous page. You can specify which cookies you want to allow or block. First party cookies are the cookies that are created by the website you are visiting, and third party cookies are the ones the website uses from another website. Click "Accept" or "Block" for each party, or "Prompt" if you would like to be asked permission every time a website wants to store cookie information on your computer.

Under those lists is an option to "Always allow session cookies". Check this option if you prefer not to be logged out of secure sites automatically. For example, if you keep getting kicked out of your email because you spent some time reading or composing a message, check this box to allow a website to keep you logged in even if you're idle.

Go to for more information about handling cookies and where to access the settings on other browsers.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles!

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to

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