Q&A: Controlling cookies

Q I have been exploring Safari’s privacy settings, where I can control cookies. Is there a way of getting a complete listing of cookies? Are they worth using, or blocking?

A Safari currently will not generate a list of cookies or their close relatives, ‘local storage’. Browsing its scripting dictionary, it does not expose cookies or local storage to make them accessible to AppleScript. Other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera are similarly unhelpful, although Opera allows you to undertake detailed inspection of cookie content, which is useful.

Cookies (App Store) is probably the ultimate cookie manager for OS X.
Cookies (App Store) is probably the ultimate cookie manager for OS X.

Russell Gray’s Cookie (App Store, £10.99) is probably the most powerful and sophisticated cookie manager, which also includes Flash cookies and Silverlight. Unfortunately although it provides a remarkable level of detail and control, it is not able to generate a simple listing of cookies, except in its own window, of course.

Cookies are kept in the Cookies folder in your Home Library folder, in a single large binary database, whilst you can get a directory listing of local storage from the files in ~/Library/Safari/LocalStorage. They are a two-edged sword: whilst they save you having to re-enter information into websites and allow per-site preferences to be retained, they are also exploited for advertising and less obviously beneficial purposes. The choice is yours.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 31 issue 2, 2015, its final issue.