What Are Cookies and Why Are They Important

Why you would want to allow Cookies and how to allow them on a Mac


As a child, cookies were sugar-filled baked goods that made mouths water. Once those children got older and began using the Internet, cookies took on another meaning and were one of the ways digital marketers could bombard them with ads targeted to their wants based on how they used the Internet. Now, even older, cookies are the things they agree to or disagree with when visiting a website for the first time due to pieces of legislation they have never heard of. That is how we interact with cookies daily but what exactly are they?

Cookies Everywhere

In their most basic form cookies are merely incredibly small text files. It is what these text files can do that made online marketers mouth’s water before regulation hampered their abuse. These small text files can be stored onto your browser directories, specific program data folders, and subfolders and can keep track of your movements within sites. In terms of usefulness, the data collected by cookies help make your time spent online more efficient. The data stored often means you don’t have to fill in forms you already have or revert to default themes and preferences every time you log in.

For companies that have large databases cookies are essential in helping facilitate access to data for both user and company. The data stored by cookies is tiny and by themselves, they cannot reveal your identity. However, over the year’s cookies have been used in aggressive marketing campaigns where they were used to track people’s browsing habits while online. This was deemed to be an invasion of privacy for lawmakers in the European Union and California and their use is now regulated in those regions and for businesses who conduct operations in the region or with a resident of that region.

Session and Persistent

While they have been abused in the past, the Internet as we know it today has come to rely on cookies and they are still incredibly useful bits of text information. There are two types of cookies, namely session cookies and persistent cookies. The former are created temporarily in a subfolder when visiting a website. Once the visitor leaves the website they are deleted. Persistent cookies are created in subfolders like their cousin however they are not deleted when a visitor leaves the site. When the visitor returns to the website they are activated again. They can remain in the subfolder for any time specified in the cookies code.

Do I even want to enable cookies?

Before we discuss how to enable cookies on a Mac, it is important to answer why you would want to enable them in the first place. Given their past abuse, this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. The main reason why is to drastically improve your Internet experience. The information stored by cookies allows companies and web developers to generate more tailored experiences for website visitors. Little things like remembering your preferences and auto-filling forms not only save a lot of time but also save user sanity.

Cookies act as quality of life improvements to many of us who spend extended periods online. When used responsibly by developers and marketers this statement is particularly true. They can be irritating though when abused and for that reason on a Mac, they can either be enabled or disabled. Typically, the ones that saw a lot of abuse were third-party cookies, which are now heavily regulated in certain regions, and were created to run ads when online often at inappropriate times.

How to enable Cookies on a Mac

On Apple’s default browser, Safari, cookies can be enabled by selecting the privacy tab found in preferences. Now Mac users can block third-party cookies by checking the prevent cross-tracking option, effectively preventing malicious cookies from aggravating the end-user. Then make sure the block all cookies option is unchecked. This allows first-party cookies, the good ones, to improve your internet experience. The manage website data option will show you what information is collected by cookies. This might force you to disable all cookies but it is important to remember that you may have been allowing third-party cookies to track your browsing.


Cookies may have gotten a bad reputation, but they are incredibly useful when used responsibly. The Internet as we know it is heavily reliant on these little bits of information and they can be used to drastically improve your user experience online.

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