Home / Technology / You need to change your browser privacy settings right away: Chrome, Firefox and more

You need to change your browser privacy settings right away: Chrome, Firefox and more


James Martin / CNET

Privacy is now a priority among browser manufacturers, but they can not go as far as you want to combat sweeping trackers for the online advertising industry. Here̵

7;s a look at how you can tweak your privacy settings to overcome the online tracking.

Problems like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has increased the privacy of Silicon Valley’s priority list by showing how companies collect data estimates while crossing the Internet. Their goal? To build a richly detailed user profile so that you can be the target for more accurate, clickable and thus profitable ads.

Apple and Google are at war with the web, with Google aggressively pushing for an interactive web to compete with native apps, and Apple moving slower – partly out of concern, the new features will worsen security and be annoying for users. Privacy adds another dimension to the competition and to the browser’s decision.

Browser Wars image

Google and Apple are arguing about the future of the Internet. A CNET series looks at the details.

James Martin / CNET

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all of its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft have begun to designate privacy as a way to separate browsers from Google Chrome. It’s later for the game, though Chrome engineers have started building a “privacy sandbox” despite Google’s reliance on advertising revenue.

For all the browsers listed here, you can give yourself a privacy boost by changing the default search engine. For example, try DuckDuckGo. While search results may not be as useful or deep as Google’s, DuckDuckGo is a long-standing privacy favorite for refusing to track user searches.

Other universal privacy-enhancing options include disabling browser location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, disabling password autofill, and deleting your browser history on a regular basis. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one virtual private networks CNET has reviewed which works with all browsers. (You can also check out our overview of browser-based VPNs to try.)

In the meantime, though, there are some simple settings you can change in your browser to keep a good portion of your advertising tracks off track.

Chrome browser privacy settings to change

Google Chrome browser

James Martin / CNET

Unfortunately, the world’s most popular browser is also generally believed to be one of at least privately when used straight out of the box. On the plus side, however, Chrome’s flexible and open source infrastructure has allowed independent developers to release a range of privacy-focused extensions to shake off trackers.


Brett Pearce / CNET

Click in Chrome Web Store Extensions to the left and enter the name of the extension you are looking for in the search field. Once you have found the correct extension in the search results, click on it Add to Chrome. A dialog box will appear explaining what permissions the extension will have for your browser. Click Add extension to bring the extension into your browser.

If you change your mind, you can manage or remove your extensions by opening Chrome and clicking the tree point More menu on the right. Then select More tools and so Extensions. From here you will also be able to see more about the expansion by clicking Details.

Here are four extensions you can look at when you get started: Autodelete for cookies, uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger and HTTPS everywhere.

If you are using Android, sorry: extensions do not work. So you have to switch browsers all the way to something like the DuckDuckGos app.

In the same three-point menu in Chrome, you can also block third-party cookies by selecting Settingsand then scroll down to Privacy and security section and click Cookies and other website data. From here you choose Block third-party cookies.

Read more: Google Chrome privacy is not the best. These browser extensions will help

Safari browser privacy settings to change


Angela Lang / CNET

By default, Safari turns on its proprietary tool for intelligent prevention tracking to keep you one step ahead of privacy pests. However, the tool has not always worked smoothly since its debut in 2017. Google researchers discovered how Intelligent Tracking Prevention itself can be used to track users, although Apple buttoned down the issue.

Safari 14, announced in June and arrives later in 2020 with new MacOS Big Sur, will be able to tell you which ad trackers are running on the site you are visiting, and give you a 30-day report on the known trackers identified while browsing. It will also tell you which sites these trackers came from.

To check that blocking is on, open Safari and click Preferences, then Privacy. The box next to it Prevent cross-site tracking should be checked. While you are there, you can also delete cookies manually. Click Manage site data to see which websites have left their trackers and cookies in your browser. Click Remove next to any of the individual trackers you are ready to get rid of, or just neck the entire list by clicking Remove all at the bottom of the screen.

Cookies can be useful, not only invasive, but for stronger privacy you can block them completely – both first-party cookies from the website publisher and third-party cookies from others as advertisers. To do so, check the box next to it Block all cookies.

If you’re still looking for another layer of privacy, you can also install useful extensions from the App Store such as AdBlock Plus or Ghostery Lite for Safari.

read more: Safari joins browsers that tell you who is trying to track you

Edge browser privacy settings to change

Microsoft Edge icon and logo


Microsoft’s Edge browser includes some simplified privacy and tracking blocking options on it Tracker prevention screen. Select the Edge menu icon in Edge at the top right of Edge and select Settings. Select from the menu displayed on the left Privacy and services.

You are offered three settings to choose from: Basic, Balanced and Strict. By default, Edge uses the Balanced setting, which blocks trackers from sites you haven’t visited while still being gentle enough to save most sites from some of the loading issues that may come with stricter security. Similarly, Edge’s Strict setting may interfere with the behavior of certain sites, but will block the largest number of trackers. Even the basic setting will still block trackers used for crypto mining and fingerprinting.

Read more: Microsoft Edge privacy settings to change right away

Firefox browser privacy settings to change


Angela Lang / CNET

Firefox’s default privacy settings are more protective than for Chrome and Edge, and the browser also has several privacy options under the hood.

From inside the Firefox main menu – or from inside the three-line menu on the right side of the toolbar – select Preferences. When the settings window opens, click Privacy and security. From here you can choose between three options: Standard, String and Custom. Standard, the default Firefox setting, blocks trackers in private windows, third-party tracking cookies and cryptocurrencies. The String the setting can ruin a few websites, but it blocks everything that is blocked in standard mode, plus fingerprints and trackers in all windows. Customized is worth exploring for those who want to fine-tune how trackers are blocked.

Click to apply the new tracking settings after selecting the privacy level Reload all tabs button that appears.

Read more: With Firefox, you can stop leaking your data over the Internet

Brave browser settings for privacy to change

Brave browser logo


When it comes to anti-tracking tools, Safari’s latest privacy updates are still missing most of the ones found in Brave browser. By default, Brave blocks all ads, trackers, third-party cookies and fingerprints while still achieving burning speeds. Brave also offers a built-in Tor private surf mode, a heavy tracking blocking option, and added a built-in VPN for iOS users.

Inside Brave’s main menu, select Preferences to disclose Settings panel to the left. Select Shield to see a list of privacy options on the right side of the screen. By selecting Advanced view, you will be able to choose the types of trackers you want to block. By scrolling down, you will also be able to block login buttons and built-in content from Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. For even more privacy protection and tweaks, explore Additional settings left and select Privacy and security.

Read more: If you are concerned about your online privacy, this is the browser you should use

For more, check it out the best password managers in 2021 and spring Frequently asked questions about the Tor browser.

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