Improving Firefox Cookie Management

Cookie management in Firefox is too much of an all or nothing thing: either block everything or block nothing or be annoyed by constant cookie popups:

Firefox cookie set dialog

Here are a few simple improvements Firefox could make to vastly improve user experience while maintaining privacy:

  • Provide a simple menu option or toolbar button to enable/disable cookies. i.e. turn cookies on or off by time rather than site. Normally one would surf with cookies off, and only turn cookies on when you hit a site that required them.
  • When cookies are turned off, even stored cookies should not be sent.
  • The per-site cookie preferences should have a filter box like Thunderbird’s. i.e. type in a piece of a domain name like “shopping” and all the domains that don’t contain “shopping” would vanish. Currently it’s quite hard to find the specific site whose cookies you want to unblock.

Will Firefox 2 (alpha due this Friday) improve this? Probably not. There are open RFEs for both of these (245159 24510) and no apparent recent progress. There are quite a few other worthy RFEs in Bugzilla for improvements in cookie handling.

In the meantime the Permit Cookies plugin might help out.

3 Responses to “Improving Firefox Cookie Management”

  1. Masklinn Says:

    > Provide a simple menu option or toolbar button to enable/disable cookies. i.e. turn cookies on or off by time rather than site. Normally one would surf with cookies off, and only turn cookies on when you hit a site that required them.

    Here you are: http://basic.mozdev.org/cookiebutton/

    > The per-site cookie preferences should have a filter box like Thunderbird’s. i.e. type in a piece of a domain name like “shopping” and all the domains that don’t contain “shopping” would vanish. Currently it’s quite hard to find the specific site whose cookies you want to unblock.

    http://addneditcookies.mozdev.org/

  2. Greg Says:

    Agreed; the Firefox solution, though better than IE, still leaves much to be desired. Cookies are a pain:
    - who wants to be tracked by ad companies?
    - many non-ad cookies (webtrends, _utmz etc.) still clutter up your system, but bring you zero benefit
    - cookies are a privacy liability – record of where you’ve been
    - the ones that truly benefit you (logins, shopping carts, etc) get lost in the noise
    - if you select “Ask me every time”, and a blizzard of cookies arrives, that ask me dialog will pop up so often you won’t be able to do anything else

    The way I wish things would work:
    Surf normally with all cookies blocked except whitelist; when a new site needs to be whitelisted, you can easily turn on “Ask me every time”. This is basically supported by Firefox right now.

    However, when a site wants to set a cookie, I want more choices besides (deny, allow, allow session) x (this cookie, all cookies from site):
    - Deny all from this site for remainder of session (NEW). In other words, stop accepting foo.com cookies, but don’t add foo.com to your persistent block list. You may have good reason for wanting no record of foo.com on your system.
    - Allow all from this site for remainder of session (NEW). Foo.com cookies are retained only until you quit the browser, and foo.com is not added to your persistent allow list. Allows temporary browsing of a site you don’t plan to come back to
    - Stop accepting all cookies immediately. Halts the flood of “ask me” modal dialogs for the site that can’t resist setting a #$^% cookie for every image on the page.

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