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FlagCookies help and documentation

Jan edited this page Sep 16, 2018 · 13 revisions

FlagCookies help and documentation


This help is work in progress.


Screenshot

Flag Cookies main user interface

General information

FlagCookies does distinguish between http(s)://domain.com [domain] and http(s)://subdomain.domain.com [subdomain]. This means, every setting you apply to [domain] is **not automatically applied to [subdomain] or in the opposite direction.

In particular this affects 'PROFILE' mode, 'profile mode cookies' and the 'AUTO FLAG' mode. 'GLOBAL' mode instead is applied to all and every domain when active/turned on.

Cookies are in general handled by FlagCookies on a website request, so if you load the webpage or while browsing it - it's applying your current cookie settings for the particular domain.

At every time, you see at the top of the main window:

  1. The [domain] and or [subdomain] name FlagCookies detected and is active for.

  2. The active 'container group' or 'context name' FlagCookies operates on and in which context it's settings apply to and are stored in.

The 'container group', if supported by your browser, tells FlagCookies in which context settings should be stored and how domains and domain cookies should be treated. For example, if there is a 'container group' called 'shopping' and one called 'banking'. FlagCookies then supports different settings for [domain] or [subdomain] in 'shopping' versus the exact same website(s) in 'banking'.

NOTE: Not all browsers support this at the moment of writing. In case you are not using any 'container' related extension or add-on, this will not affect the way Flag Cookies is working and you can use it as is.

How it works

When you surf the web, FlagCookies tries to detect every cookie [domain] or [subdomain] is storing in your browser. In addition to this, any third-party cookies, for example from a possible tracking webpage or another domain the webpage loads information from, is detected and displayed in the 'COOKIES' view.

The 'COOKIES' view, which is active by default when you open FlagCookies, is the main place where you can control what to do with the cookies, more on this later. You also can reach the cookies view at above center of the FlagCookies window, at every time, clicking on the labeled button 'COOKIES', the one with the cookie in front of it!


What you see there in the 'main views' (COOKIES, FLAGGED, PERMITTED)

What will you see in general? If the website you are viewing uses no cookies or no cookies are detected, you see a message: 'No active cookies for domain, you might need to reload the tab' - which means the website does not use any cookies or you need to reload the tab one time in order for FlagCookies to detect the website cookies, if any are present.

Second option, you will see a list of the cookies. Those are displayed by 'name' and secondly by 'value' so you know what information might be stored on your computer by the website using cookies. Every 'main view' will display this two basic cookie information, so you always see: the name and the value of the cookie. Please note, 'COOKIES' as main view has a lot more controls, 'FLAGGED' and 'PERMITTED' in the center, always at hand - are empty by default as this are explicitly flagged or permitted cookies by yourself.

Don't be confused what all this means, it will be clear once the 'COOKIES' view is explained in more detail.


Basic usage

The 'COOKIES' button and view

If cookies are detected (this might need a webpage reload in some cases) FlagCookies will list all detected domain cookies the main cookie view. That is the default view which opens, when you open FlagCookies using the toolbar icon. But you can reach it any time, at the very top of the window by clicking on the 'COOKIES' button, like the 'HELP' and 'FLAGGED' and 'PERMITTED' views.

What you see in the main view, from left to right: You see the 'cookie flag switch' for the cookie. Secondly, you see the cookie name and below the value of the cookie, how it's stored in your browser. On the very right, you see a 'key icon'.

What does this mean? The 'cookie flag switch': The cookie flag switch controls how cookies are handled inside FlagCookies. By default te cookie flag switch is set to 'Unhandled'. This means, there is no action taken by FlagCookies on this cookie at this moment. There is also a information provided, if you hover the mouse over the switch, which gives you more information about it's current state inside FlagCookies.

If you click on it once, it will turn to 'Flagged'. 'Flagged' basically tells FlagCookies: If you encounter this cookie at this domain.com or sub.domain.com website, remove/delete it, if present. You can hover your mouse over the switch to receive more help and information.

If you click it once more, it will turn to 'Permitted'. 'Permitted' simply tells FlagCookies, allow this cookie for this domain. This cookie will not be removed by 'GLOBAL' or 'AUTO FLAG' modes. More about the 'operating modes' afterwards.

Following up, the 'key icon': The 'key icon' enables you to configure 'profile mode cookies'. If you click on it, the button color changes and displays that the cookie is set as profile cookie. This tells FlagCookies to 'protect' this cookie from being deleted by 'GLOBAL' or 'AUTO FLAG' mode. This is basically the key if you want to have random cookies removed, but keeping the cookies which are required to use a website or while having an account in a service. But it's to remember when setting 'profile mode cookies' - 'PROFILE', at the very top of the the window, has to be enabled in order to apply this 'protection' to the cookies.

You might wonder why 'PROFILE' has to be enabled, simply put: You can directly control if you want to allow a 'profile mode cookie' by enabling 'PROFILE' mode. If you are not logged into an account or service anymore, you can deactivate 'PROFILE' so cookies can be removed by 'GLOBAL' or 'AUTO FLAG' mode.

If you change your mind and you want to remove the 'profile mode cookie', you can do so using the 'COOKIES' view, if the cookie is currently active or by visiting the 'PREFERENCES' and click the 'dumpster' icon for the particular cookie in the area 'LOGGED IN PROFILE' at any time.

With 'flag switch' and the 'key icon' for 'profile mode cookies', you can control the basics, of what FlagCookies is capable of doing.

Please note: You can get more information about the present cookie flag, if you hover over the 'cookie flag' switch/button and even more information if you hover the mouse over the 'Flag legend' and the corresponding icon/name 'Unhandled', 'Flagged' and 'Permitted', 'Auto flagged' at the very bottom of FlagCookies main window at any time. For the sake of completeness 'Auto flagged' state is used by 'GLOBAL' and 'AUTO FLAG' mode.

And most important: Those 'basic' settings won't break anything badly. But you might refer to the 'Troubleshooting' section later on. [Note: The troubleshooting section is work in progress.]

If a cookie is deleted by FlagCookies if its state is set to 'Flagged' the website will try to set the cookie again and storing it again in your browser, this is most likely the case. If you think you made a mistake by 'flagging' a cookie, but it's not shown in the 'COOKIES' view to change it settings, you always can go to 'PREFERENCES' and 'DELETE DOMAIN SETTINGS', which will remove all cookie settings for this domain you are currently viewing. In any case, if you think you cannot undo a custom setting, you can go to 'PREFERENCES' and 'DELETE ALL STORED SETTINGS' of FlagCookies. Please note, this removes all cookie settings and stored data!


The 'FLAGGED' and 'PERMITTED' buttons and views

Those views are almost identical to each other. Both views are by default empty, but if you 'Flagged' a cookie, it's displayed in the 'FLAGGED' view and if you 'Permitted' a cookie, it's shown in the 'PERMITTED' view. They show a button and the cookie name and value. If you click the button, the cookie state becomes removed and resets, meaning: If it's state is 'Flagged', it turns to 'Unhandled' or in case 'GLOBAL' or 'ATUO FLAG' is enabled, the cookies state is set to 'Auto flagged', the same goes for the 'PERMITTED' view and 'permitted' cookies which turn either to 'Unhandled' or 'Auto flagged'.

It's a shorthand, if a website does set a lot of cookies and many custom settings are applied to.


Operating modes

'GLOBAL' mode

'GLOBAL' mode works on all domains and is, most likely, the most often used 'protection' mode against tracking by cookies in general as it flags every cookie by default, for every domain encountered. For example, when surfing the web and you don't know if a website might use tracking cookies or any other third party website being loaded, having 'Global' activated will automatically remove every cookie FlagCookies detects, if the cookie is not explicitly 'Permitted', set as 'profile mode cookie' or the domain has activated 'PROFILE' mode without any profile mode cookies.

You can activate or deactivate it at any time, using the button 'GLOBAL' button at the very top of the main window.


'AUTO FLAG' mode

'AUTO FLAG' mode is very similar to 'GLOBAL' mode. The main difference is, its only working on the particular domain. Basically it will remove all discovered cookies for http(s)://domain.com or http(s)://subdomain.domain.com - only, not other domains like 'GLOBAL' mode does.

Please note: Third party cookies, which are cross-loaded from this website or domain, are removed by this mode.


'PROFILE' mode

'PROFILE' mode itself has two key functionalities: Firstly, if you enable 'profile mode cookies', 'PROFILE' mode will protect those cookies from removal by 'Flagged' state, 'GLOBAL' and 'AUTO FLAG' modes - if set as 'key cookies'.

Secondly, if no 'profile mode cookies' are set for that domain, all domain cookies will be protected from removal by the other 'operating modes'. This allows you to quickly 'protect' domain cookies, without then need to set any 'PROFILE' mode cookies. If this mode is used, some or all cookies can still be 'flagged' on demand.

'Profile mode' will allow you to be logged in into a service or website if configured accordingly, but also allowing 'GLOBAL' or 'AUTO FLAG' to remove cookies, which are undesired or simply not required to use the website. 'PROFILE' mode can be enabled at the very top of the main window, by clicking on 'PROFILE'.

In case you want to know more about, how to set 'profile mode cookies' please refer to 'Basic usage' mentioned earlier in this help to find out more.


FlagCookies 'PREFERENCES':

'Action log', 'profile cookies' and 'settings storage'


FlagCookies 'PREFERENCES'

The 'PREFERENCES' view is reachable at the very right bottom of FlagCookies.

It contains three main areas:

  1. The 'Actions log' - where events and actions of FlagCookies are shown

  2. The 'Domain settings' - where you can clear the current domain settings or manage 'profile cookies' for the current domain

  3. The 'Add-on settings' - where you can enable or disable browser notifications or clear all add-on settings

A description this areas follows along, but you can also receive more information if you hover over title of the area on the left.


'Actions log'

The 'Actions log' provides you with a list of events on what FlagCookies was doing, for example if cookies were removed and on which action. This could be 'Global flag deleted cookie 'name of cookie' on 'load' for domain 'http(s)://domain.net'

There are also other events for cookies, like: 'Permitted' or deleted by 'auto flag' mode.

In case you 'DELETE DOMAIN SETTINGS' or 'DELETE ALL STORED SETTINGS', you will also see a message inside the 'Actions log'.


'Domain settings'

The 'Domain settings' enables you to clear the current active domain cookie settings you are currently viewing and manage the 'LOGGED IN PROFILE' cookies.

In order to clear the domain settings, you need to click on the button 'Confirm clearing' and then hit 'DELETE DOMAIN SETTINGS'.

'LOGGED IN PROFILE' is the place, where you can remove 'profile cookies', meaning cookies you are about to use if 'PROFILE' mode is enabled, at any time - even so they are currently not visible in the 'COOKIES' view. The cookies are listed with the name and a 'dumpster icon'. If you want to remove the 'profile cookie', simply click on the 'dumpster icon' and it will be removed and its stated reverts to either 'Unhandled' or 'Auto flagged' in case 'GLOBAL' mode or 'AUTO FLAG' mode is enabled.


'Add-on settings'

The 'Add-on settings' allows to enable or disable browser 'notifications' of Flag Cookies and to remove all FlagCookies settings and domain settings from the browsers storage.

'Display notifications' if enabled, will show 'browser notifications' when Flag Cookies removes cookies while browsing. If it's state is 'checked', notifications will be shown when cookies are being removed with amount, domain name and context name.

In order to clear the FlagCookies settings, you need to click on the button 'Confirm clearing' and then hit 'DELETE ALL STORED SETTINGS'.

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