Identifying the cookies your website sets

There has been a flurry of people telling us that we need to react to the change in cookie law, and that we must audit our cookies first. That’s all very well, but how? How do we find out what cookies our websites are setting?

Here I give some ways of finding that out. I’ve done it for three Windows browsers (the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome). It’s imperfect because in other tools I was given slightly different results (this may be to do with caching, I don’t know), but it’s a start.

Internet Explorer 9

  1. Visit the website you want to find cookies for.
  2. Press F12, or click Tools > F12 developer tools. The screen should split in two.
  3. In the lower half of the newly split screen, click Cache > View cookie information.
  4. In the main browser window you should now see a list of those cookies that are set by that site. You don’t get as much information as you do in other browsers, but it’s a good start.

Chrome

  1. Visit the website you want to find cookies for.
  2. Click CTRL + SHIFT + I, or click the spanner icon then select Tools > Developer tools. The screen should split in two.
  3. In the lower half of the newly split screen, click Resources.
  4. Expand the ‘Cookies’ menu and click on the domain name of the site you want cookies for.
  5. You should see a table of all the cookies being set by that website, including the domains they’re being set from (ie which are set directly and which are set by third parties).

Firefox

I offer you two possible routes for Firefox. The first requires the Web Developer extension, the second requires the Firebug  and Firecookie extensions.

Web Developer extension
  1. Install the Web Developer extension.
  2. Visit the website you want to find cookies for.
  3. Click ‘Cookies’ in the Web Developer toolbar, or go to Tools > Web Developer > Cookies > View cookie information tools. The screen should split in two.
  4. In the lower half of the newly split screen, click Resources.
  5. You should now see a list of those cookies that are set by this site, similar to that shown by IE 9. You don’t get as much information as you do using Firebug (see below), but it’s a good start.
Firebug extension
  1. Install the Firebug extension.
  2. Install the Firecookie extension.
  3. Visit the website you want to find cookies for.
  4. Press F12. The screen should split in two.
  5. In the lower half of the newly split screen, click Cookies.
  6. You should now see a table of those cookies that are set by this page only.
  7. However, you can export all the site cookies as a tab-delimited text file by clicking the ‘Cookies’ drop-down in the sub-menu.

5 thoughts on “Identifying the cookies your website sets

  1. Gavin Wray

    Hi Michael. Thanks for summarising how to start auditing what cookies our websites set – very useful.

    I’ve just done a quick check in two Mac browsers. Your steps for Chrome on Windows work the same for Chrome on Mac.

    In Safari, you’ll need to first enable the “Develop” menu in Safari Preferences > Advanced tab > Show Develop menu in menu bar. To find your cookies set, in the Safari menu go to Develop > Show Web Inspector. In the lower half of the split screen, choose “Resources” and, at the left-hand side, expand the “Cookies” menu.

      

    Reply
    1. Michael Post author

      Thanks Gavin. I’ll add Safari to the post later. 

      I tried Opera too but couldn’t find an easy way to isolate the cookies from other resources (but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one, of course).

        

      Reply
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