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Question: Safari removed cookies reappear

I go to Preferences > Security > Show Cookies, then I select some (using the filter e.g. "__u" to catch all Google analytics cookies, or just manually Cmd-clicking), click Remove. Cookies seem gone, close preferences, when I reopen it right away, the cookies are still gone. But a few minutes later, they magically all come back, resurrected from the digital dead.

Without visiting any of those sites.
Top-sites disabled (and none of the sites were top sites anyway)
Cookie file not locked.

I know I can delete the Cookies.plist file to get rid of ALL of them for good. Problem is I don't want to get rid of all of them. Is this a known bug in Safari? I've seen [people|http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=10596345] [reporting|http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100820122246AAJDPJc] the [same problem|http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=10880559] going back several versions, but no good explanation or fix for Safari itself. Any ideas?

And if it's known, why does Apple not fix it?

Safari 5.0.1

MacBook Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.5.8), 2.1 GHz, 4 GB RAM

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Oct 15, 2010 1:50 PM in response to andyBall_uk In response to andyBall_uk

andyBall_uk wrote:
I know I can delete the Cookies.plist file to get rid of ALL of them for good.


does that actually work, if something resurrects them?


Yes, because that "something" is the Cookies.plist file.

I'm pretty sure it works like this:
To prevent permanent HD access, Safari loads existing cookies once at launch from HD, then keeps a copy of its cookies in memory and only occasionally writes the changes back to the file on HD. Apparently the bug causes the cookies to be only deleted in memory, but those changes are not written to the file, so every time Safari syncs, they come back. Closing Safari (to kill the memory cookies) and then deleting the Cookies.plist will get rid of cookies for good.

BTW, this allows a way to make session cookies. Go to your user Library > Cookies, delete the existing Cookies.plist file, create an empty text file in TextEdit, safe it as Cookies.plist in that folder, then lock it (Cmd-I, check "Locked") or/and lock the Cookies folder. This prevents Safari from writing any cookies to disk and it will only work with the cookies in memory. When you close Safari, they are all gone.

~Bee wrote:
Do you have the
"Warn when visiting fraudulent sites" box checked in your Safari preferences?
Because that is a Google service. That might explain Google always coming back.


No, I haven't and it doesn't. Google analytics cookies are always served from the domain that uses the analytics service, i.e. you'd have to visit that site again. You can tell the cookies only by their name. They all start with "__utm":
http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/concepts/gaConceptsCookies.html
Check your cookies, you'll be surprised how many of those you have!

There are others that behave the same way: __qca and __qcb are [Quantcast|http://www.quantcast.com> tracking cookies, _csuid are [AddThis|http://www.addthis.com/features] tracking cookies. Would be cool if there was a filter by cookie name that blocks those in the first place. Seems Safari Cookies only deletes Google Analytics cookies when quitting - which I never do, my Safari stays sometimes on for days (until it crashes which it likes to do way too much) as I only put the computer to sleep. But I'll try it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

Still disappointed though that Apple can't get this straight after people've been complaining about this bug for over a year. Feels weird that I need a 3rd-party app for something so basic as deleting cookies.

Oct 15, 2010 1:50 PM

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Oct 15, 2010 2:10 PM in response to Sven R. In response to Sven R.

the problem with your bug, is that very few people seem to notice it; or in my case,even when primed to - are unable to repeat it in any fashion.

When i remove cookies, they stay gone, and the cookies.plist file is written to within seconds.In any event, Safari doesn't 'sync' to the version on disk & ignore the one in memory.

I don't know what analytics has to do with the fraudulent sites - beyond google, of course.

https://bugreport.apple.com/ is the place, if you can get a case together.

Oct 15, 2010 2:10 PM

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Oct 17, 2010 4:22 PM in response to andyBall_uk In response to andyBall_uk

Well, what "very few" means is up to interpretation, I guess. There are three links to other people reporting the same problem in my first post. You can find more, even here on the Apple boards, if you look around longer. And it's fair to assume that most people don't even know about cookies, and if they do, never bother to delete them, and if they do delete them, don't come back 15 min later to see if they're still gone after they seemed gone at first, and if they do check again and realize there's something wrong, they don't know about this board and/or don't bother to post. In this light, I find the existence of multiple threads complaining about the same thing remarkable.

That said, it IS something that does not happen reliably on every Mac. Maybe it's only certain circumstances that trigger it and I came here hoping that someone would know more about this and maybe point me to the root cause of it.

If Safari doesn't sync, that's fine, so my guess was wrong. But then there must be another mechanism that resurrects "deleted" cookies without visiting those sites. If you know more, please enlighten us.

G Analytics indeed does not have anything to do with it other than that I used it as an example in my first post for cookies that I tried to delete and Bee later mistakenly mixed that up with the anti-fraud feature. Please excuse us for our incredible ignorance and that the discussion went on a slight tangent about how else this particular case (analytics) could be dealt with.

Oct 17, 2010 4:22 PM

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Oct 17, 2010 4:29 PM in response to Sven R. In response to Sven R.

If you know more, please enlighten us.


all cookies - even w/o opening any more pages?
particular sites?


+
happens even if not connected to the internet?
in a new computer user account?

even without browsing to other sites? (some reportedly recreate cookies where possible, based on Flash & other persistent data)

Oct 17, 2010 4:29 PM

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Oct 17, 2010 5:30 PM in response to andyBall_uk In response to andyBall_uk

andyBall_uk wrote:
all cookies - even w/o opening any more pages?
particular sites?


In one instance, I deleted hundreds of analytics, advertising and plain really old cookies from at least >100 different domains. At first, they seemed gone. I think I loaded another page on the site I was on, probably finance.yahoo.com. About 20 min later, when I happened to check again, ALL the tracking and other cookies from all those many, many different domains I had deleted, they were all back. Sites I hadn't visited in weeks and that have no relation to Yahoo Finance. Again, those were not a few 3rd-party ad cookies Yahoo uses itself; I'm talking about cookies from private blogs, tech sites, discussion forums etc., even foreign sites that I had visited at some point, but not in the last 1/2 hour.

So I ran another test, relaunched Safari and this time, I removed simply ALL cookies. Reopening the Safari security prefs and "Show Cookies" showed a blank page. Half an hour later, my cookie list scroll bar went from non-existing (when there's nothing to scroll) back to the small knob it becomes when the list is really long. Everything had come back - hundreds of cookies. And the expiration dates remained the same showing that they indeed were old cookies. Had somehow all the hundreds of sites been visited again, I'd have received new dates.

+
happens even if not connected to the internet?
in a new computer user account?


It was connected, and I can't test as this happened on our laptop, which is out of the house right now.

even without browsing to other sites? (some reportedly recreate cookies where possible, based on Flash & other persistent data)


Browsing one site as described above. And again, I'm not talking about a small handful that somehow could get recreated from cross-site advertising, tracking pixels or Flash cookies. I'm talking about the whole enchilada, see above.

Oct 17, 2010 5:30 PM

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Oct 17, 2010 6:01 PM in response to Sven R. In response to Sven R.

I see - thanks for that, Sven.

I get why you say it seems synced, because it does, yes. Which should exclude anything but an actual odd safari bug, or it is syncing/restoring from a misguided backup - somehow.

If it's possible to recreate, then knowing if it 'needs' internet is useful, and the account check. Hopefully others who've seen (or not) this will chime in too.

Oct 17, 2010 6:01 PM

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Oct 22, 2010 4:33 PM in response to Sven R. In response to Sven R.

I was one of the people who posted a thread about this a year ago, and I've been unable to locate it.

I was advised to tweak a setting, delete a file or two, and then kill whatever cookies I didn't want. They stayed gone until just a few days ago. My biggest culprit is of course Google. That thing will not stay dead.

Many thanks to Sven for explaining those other cookies such as _utm and _qcb. I have no idea what any of the cookies do or who they report to, so I generally sign into my discussion forums and then turn off cookies so nothing else gets added. Now I realize that there were marketing trackers there the whole time thanks to Sven.

FWIW, I deleted all of those, they returned ONCE, and then never again. Meanwhile, Google reappears ever 10-20 minutes.

What is it about that one cookie?

Oct 22, 2010 4:33 PM

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Oct 23, 2010 8:29 AM in response to Sven R. In response to Sven R.

This is not the answer, this is only to shed some light on the matter.
I had this problem for over a year, it started in Safari 4 beta. Then about a month ago, quite by mistake I assure you, I installed an application called Plone. During installation Plone deleted all but six applications on my MBP (I had well over one hundred apps). After calming down my racing heart, I reinstalled everything from an older-than-reasonable backup. I now no longer have the cookies coming back from the digital dead. They go and stay gone.

It also cured a issue where clicking the "Show in Finder" icon (or ctrl+clicking and selecting "Show in Finder") in the Downloads window worked, not to show in Finder, but to open the downloaded file.

Oct 23, 2010 8:29 AM

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Oct 24, 2010 6:58 PM in response to Klaus1 In response to Klaus1

Klaus, I believe that in order for that to work, you have to allow at least one Google cookie on your machine to save that preference 😉

In the meantime, after fighting this for a day or two, suddenly the mysteriously resurrecting cookie has managed to stay dead.

Oct 24, 2010 6:58 PM

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Question: Safari removed cookies reappear