Browser Privacy Settings You Really Should Change in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox



James Martin/CNET

Although privacy is now a top priority among browser makers, they may not go as far as you’d like in the fight against the ad industry’s pervasive trackers. But, by changing a few browser settings, you can take your online privacy into your own hands and outsmart online tracking.

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problems like The Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook raised privacy protection high on Silicon Valley’s list of priorities by showing how companies collect vast amounts of data as you browse the Internet. Your goal? To create a richly detailed user profile so that you can become the target of more accurate, clickable and therefore profitable ads.

Apple and Google are in a war over the web, with Google aggressively pushing for an interactive web to compete with native apps and Apple moving more slowly, in part due to concerns that the new features will worsen security and be annoying to use. Privacy adds another dimension to competition and your browser decision.

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all of its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a central goal, with Mozilla and Microsoft touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome. It’s late for the game but Chrome engineers are building a “privacy sandbox” despite Google’s reliance on ad revenue.

For all browsers listed here, you can increase your privacy by changing the default search engine. For example, try Duck Duck to win. Although its search results may not be as useful or insightful as Google’s, DuckDuckGo is a longtime favorite among privacy-conscious for its refusal to track user searches.

Other universal privacy-enhancing options include disabling your browser’s location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, turning off password autocompletion, and regularly deleting your browsing history. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one of the virtual private networks CNET has reviewed that work with all browsers. (You can also consult our summary of Browser-based VPNs to try and the best VPNs for Windows.)

In the meantime, though, here are some simple settings you can change in your browser to help keep a good chunk of advertising trackers off your trail.

Chrome browser privacy settings to change

Internet browser Google Chrome

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The world’s most popular browser is also generally thought to be one of the less private when used straight out of the box. However, on the bright side, Chrome’s open source and flexible underpinnings have allowed independent developers to release a host of privacy-focused extensions to get rid of trackers.

In the Chrome Web Store, click extensions on the left and type the name of the extension you are looking for in the search bar. Once you find the correct extension in the search results, click Add to Chrome. A dialog will appear explaining what permissions the extension will have for your browser. Click add extension to bring the extension to your browser.

If you change your mind, you can manage or remove your extensions by opening Chrome and clicking the three dots Plus right menu. Then select More tools and then extensions. From here, you can also see more about the extension by clicking Details.

Here are four extensions to look at when getting started: Cookie Autodelete, uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere.

If you’re on Android, sorry: extensions don’t work. So you’ll have to switch browsers entirely to something like the DuckDuckGo app.

In the same three-dot menu in Chrome, you can also block third-party cookies by selecting Settings, then scrolling down to the Privacy & Security section and clicking Cookies and other site data. From here select Block third-party cookies.

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

Safari browser privacy settings to change


Angela Lang/CNET

By default, Safari activates its proprietary Smart Tracking Prevention tool to keep you one step ahead of privacy pests. Still, the tool hasn’t always run smoothly since its debut in 2017. Google researchers figured out what intelligent tracking prevention itself might look like. used to track users, although Apple fixed the problem.

Safari 14 can tell you which ad trackers are running on the website you’re visiting and give you a 30-day report of known trackers it identified while you were browsing. It will also tell you which websites those trackers came from.

To check that the lock is on, open Safari and click preferences, then Privacy. the box next to Prevent cross-site tracking must be reviewed. While you are there, you can also manually delete your cookies. Click Manage website data to see which sites have left their trackers and cookies hanging on your browser. Click Remove next to any of the individual trackers you’re ready to get rid of, or simply remove the entire list by clicking delete all at the bottom of your screen.

Cookies can be useful, not only invasive, but for greater privacy you can block them entirely, both the website publisher’s own cookies and third-party cookies from others, such as advertisers. To do this, check the box next to Block all cookies.

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

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

Edge browser privacy settings to change

Microsoft Edge icon and logo


Microsoft’s Edge browser includes some simplified privacy and tracker blocking options in its Tracker Prevention screen. Within Edge, select the three-dot menu icon in the top right corner and select Settings. From the menu that appears on the left, select Privacy and services.

You will be 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 being forgiving enough to save most sites from some of the loading issues that can come your way. with tighter security. Similarly, Strict Edge settings may interfere with the behavior of some sites, but will block the most trackers. Even the basic settings will still block trackers used for crypto mining and fingerprinting.

Read more: Microsoft Edge privacy settings to change immediately

Firefox browser privacy settings to change


Angela Lang/CNET

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

From the Firefox main menu, or from the three-line menu on the right side of the toolbar, select preferences. Once the Preferences window opens, click Privacy & Security. From here, you will be able to choose from three options: Standard, Strict, and Custom. Standard, Firefox’s default setting, blocks private window trackers, third-party tracking cookies, and cryptominers. The Strict The setting may break some websites, but it blocks everything that’s blocked in standard mode, plus fingerprints and trackers on all windows. Personalized It’s worth exploring for those who want to tweak how trackers are blocked.

To apply your new tracking settings after you’ve selected your privacy level, click the Reload all tabs button that appears.

Read more: With Firefox, stop leaking your data through the Internet

Brave browser privacy settings to change

brave browser logo


When it comes to anti-tracking tools, Safari’s latest privacy updates still fall short of most on the market. brave navigator. By default, Brave blocks all ads, trackers, third-party cookies, and fingerprints while still achieving breakneck speeds. Brave also offers a Tor private browsing mode, a heavy-duty tracker blocking option, and added a built-in VPN for iOS users.

Within Brave’s main menu, select preferences to reveal the Settings left pane. Select shields to see a list of privacy options on the right side of the screen. When selecting the Advanced view, you will be able to choose which types of trackers to block. By scrolling down, you’ll also be able to block login buttons and embedded content from Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn. For even more privacy protection and tuning, explore Additional settings on the left and select Privacy & Security.

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

For more information, take a look the best password managers of 2022 and ours Tor Browser FAQ.