Every time you visit a website, you’re being tracked. The mechanism to track your online activities is simple. The website will create a cookie in your browser, which acts as your identity. Whenever you visit the website, it’ll retrieve the cookie, associate it with your activities, and send them back to their analytics service.
As more data is collected, your identity becomes clearer, websites know who you are, and eventually sell those information to advertisers. Take Google or Facebook as example; that’s how they send you targeted ads.
No one is allowed to track your activities without your permission. One way you can protect yourself from being tracked is by resetting the browser cookies every time you close the browser. But this solution is imperfect. You can’t stay signed in for your favorite websites because you’re forced to sign out when the cookies are deleted.
For this reason, you can use cookie management software to manage browser cookies.
My favorite cookie management software is Cookie by SweetP Productions. Its basic function is to remove tracking cookies which are used to track your online activities. With few configurations, you can have Cookie to clean those unwanted cookies automatically.
Configure Unwanted Data
What kind of data do you want to clean? How often should Cookie clean unwanted data? These two questions should be answered first.
Open Preferences and start configure your unwanted data. Here is an example of my configurations.
My setup is pretty straightforward. Clean all non-favorites websites cookies, non-tracking cookies, browser caches, and form values. I decide to keep browser history because as you visit a website often, Safari will rank them higher in your browser address bar. This is surprisingly useful if you’ve formed a browsing habit.
Cookie provides several ways to clean those unwanted data. You can tell it to clean unwanted data on browser quit, at login, or periodically according to the time you’ve set. I prefer to only clean the cookies when I close the browser because you don’t want to be logged out during an active browsing session.
Since Cookie runs in background, I can hide the Dock icon and show it only in menu bar. To maintain a clutter free menu bar, you can use Bartender to hide unused menu bar icons. After all, I can activate Cookie’s window with Alfred or Spotlight.
Mark Your Favorite Websites
In the beginning, I suggest to treat all the visited websites as unwanted. When you’ve signed into a website for three consecutive days, you can mark them as your favorite websites by putting a checkmark under the heart icon in the list. That’ll ensure you won’t sign out next time you quit the browser.
Sometimes marking a website as favorite is insufficient to keep you signed in all the time. When you find yourself under this situation, you can expand the content of websites and whitelist the tracking cookies marked in red text.
Audit your favorite websites once a month. Try to remove as many websites as you can from the favorites list. You’ll be surprised at how much websites you can prevent from tracking your online activities with this method.
Your online privacy is as important as your offline privacy. People running the websites don’t have the right to know your preferences unless you agree to share those information with them. Cookie is one small step you can take to protect your online information.