How to turn off website tracking in Safari for macOS High Sierra

Safarii 11 uses Intelligent Tracking Prevention to stop websites from doing cross-site tracking of your web activities.

safari 11 icon macbook
Credit: IDG

Ever do something on the web, like shop for shoes, and then notice that every other website you visit has ads for shoes? That’s the result of website tracking. It’s a little creepy, the idea that you’re essentially being followed on the web, targeted with advertising. (And yes, Macworld.com is guilty as charged.)

Apple’s Safari uses WebKit as its engine to present websites through a browser window. WebKit has features to reduce the amount of tracking a site does, and the latest feature is called Intelligent Tracking Prevention. ITP cuts down on the ability of a site to do cross-site tracking, which leads to the experience I mentioned above.

Safari 11 in macOS High Sierra uses ITP. You have the option of turning it on or off. Here’s how. (These instructions were made using the macOS High Sierra public beta. It will be updated when Apple releases the final version.)

1. In Safari, go to Safari > Preferences.

2. Click on the Privacy icon at the top of the window.

3. In the Website tracking section, you have two options:

  • Prevent cross-site tracking: This takes the cookie that was installed for cross-tracking purposes and makes is active for one day. After one day the cookie loses its effectiveness. After 30 days, the cookie is removed.
  • Ask websites not to track me: A website may track what you’re doing during your visit. You can tell Safari to ask that website not to track you. Some websites will honor the request, some won’t.

Check the boxes if you want these features turned on.

safari 11 website tracking settings IDG

4. There’s also an option to Block all cookies. Cookies can be helpful, especially with sites your visit frequently (these are called first-party cookies). If you turn this option on, be prepared to deal with issues with logins, website settings, etc.

5. Close the preferences window when you are done.

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