December 20, 2009 in City

How to make your computer’s cookies crumble

Brier Dudley Seattle Times
 

Ready or not, it’s cookie season once again – the little bits of tracking software that Web sites deposit on your computer.

People used to pout and cry about these digital cookies and their privacy risks, but nobody seems to pay much attention anymore. One reason is the convenience of cookies can outweigh the discomfort for some people. Sites use cookies to store logins, for instance, so you don’t have to enter passwords when you return.

Here are a few tips to get rid of unwanted cookies.

•Google quietly rolled out a major change to its core search service recently and began personalizing search results for everyone, even if you’re not logged into a Google account.

It means Google is using information from cookies to tailor your search results.

It’s not hard to get rid of this fruitcake if it’s not to your liking.

The simplest way is to click the “Web history” link that appears in the upper right corner of the search result page. You’ll get the option to enable or disable customized search results.

•If you watch a Web video or play animated online games, you’ve probably received a more exotic cookie, delivered by Adobe’s Flash software.

Flash cookies don’t go away when you delete your browser’s cookies and history cache. They can be convenient and store information such as your progress in a Flash game, but you’ve got to trust that the site won’t misuse the information.

To get rid of them, you’ve got to right click your mouse while it’s hovering over a Flash video, then click on “settings.” This should bring up a control panel. Click on the folder icon to pull up a slider control that lets you decide how much data the hosting site can store on your computer. If you don’t want it to leave any cookies, slide it to zero.

You can also modify your computer’s Flash settings and purge existing cookies by going to Adobe.com and searching for “Global Storage Settings panel.” This gets you to a systemwide control panel, with the slider and a list of cookies on your PC.

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