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Introduction to cookies

A cookie is a file that a Web sites place on your computer to store information about you. This includes Web pages you have visited, the type of information you viewed, and the items you bought while shopping online. If you enter personal information on a Web site, such as your name or credit card number, a cookie can also be created to store that information. A cookie that is stored on your computer can only be read by the Web site that created it.

Although this can be a little disconcerting, cookies are actually quite useful. For instance, when you visit the Web site of a major news organization, you can enter your zip code to receive customized weather forecasts and news of interest to the city you live in. Each time you revisit that site, you can automatically receive your local news without reentering your zip code.

Cookies can also be used by Web sites that require membership. If your computer accepts a cookie from such a site, you can avoid typing your user name and password when you return to the site.

You can adjust your security settings so that cookies are not enabled, but keep in mind that some Web sites require cookies. If you specified that cookies cannot be saved on your computer, you might not be able to view some Web sites.

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