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How to Enable your Browser Cookies

Cookies Enabled is a default setting in both Internet Explorer and Netscape. If your cookies are disabled, follow these steps to enable your browser cookies:

What is a "Cookie"?

When browsing the web each page is handled separately. Loading the next page does not depend on the page you visited before. This model is based on the idea that you are accessing static information without providing any input to the server. Browsing is thus 'stateless' because neither your browser nor the server can 'remember' anything you enter from page to page except for decisions about where to go next. This model is fine for accessing reference material or static archives, but is insufficient for pages that require input from a user.

Cookies were designed to allow servers to store small text strings on an Internet user's computer to maintain information from page to page. Uses of cookies range from online commerce (shopping-carts, custom selection of product features, et cetera) to user customization features (i.e., having a page 'remember' a user wants television listings for Boston when visiting a particular page). Variables or 'states' based on user input can thus be maintained from page to page while a user browses a site, or can be used to retreive and automate customizing pages when a user returns to the site.

You probably don't need to know more about cookies once you turn them on, but, if you are curious, there are several sites with information about cookies and the Web. For more detailed information, including basic explanations, examples, and even advanced technical details, you might visit Cookie Central, which is both accessible and thorough. If you are wondering why anyone might have cookies disabled, consult the 'Why Would Cookies be Disabled?' section below.

Why Would Cookies be Disabled?

The reasons for disabling cookies are perhaps as varied as the uses of cookies. Although cookies were designed, and are primarily used to help users, they are also widely used to collect marketing and demographic information for sites to allow them to promote selling advertising space on their pages. Perhaps the most rational reason for disabling cookies would be that a user did not want to 'donate' personal hard drive space to marketing efforts. The Web site Cookie Central provides information about some of the reasons users choose to selectively or entirely disable cookie use in their browsers.