There have been a lot of stories lately about websites trying all sorts of things to keep track of people and invade their privacy. First it was Facebook, and now Google.
I protect myself from Facebook tracking me by using a Fluid browser for Facebook. Because I paid the US$5 to register the app, I can use separate cookies from Safari.
Here's how I setup Facebook in Fluid. This is how I created the app:
Once the app is created, launch it, and separate the cookies from Safari:
And then set it so that any link off of Facebook will open in another browser (note: this is the default, you don't have to change anything to get it to do this):
Fluid for Google
The whitelist settings only let the browser bring me to Google sites, so any results I click on will open in my regular browser. I've been trying to get Google to open results in a new window for years and they always forget that setting.
You can also change the User Agent which is sent to Google, which can change the format of the results. For example, maybe you prefer the iPad (oh, I mean "tablet") format. You can get that by telling the Fluid app to report itself as an iPad:
Don't want a separate browser? How about a fast logout?
Maybe you don't want a separate browser, but want to make sure that Google isn't associating your searches with your Google login. Well, assuming that Google hasn't found another way to track you even when you aren't logged in, you can make a bookmark shortcut to make sure that you are always logged out before you do a Google search. Just bookmark this link https://accounts.google.com/Logout?hl=en&continue=http://www.google.com/ and click it whenever you want to do a Google search. Or drag this link to your bookmarks bar:
Safe Google Search
"But if I'm always logging out of Google, won't I have to keep logging in to check my Gmail?"
Logging out of Google is easy, but if you want to use Google services like Gmail or Google Voice, you'll probably want to be logged in. There are a couple of ways to work around that.
Option 1: Use a different browser for Google - If you usually use Safari for your regular browsing, use Google Chrome for Gmail, Google Voice, etc.
Option 2: Use Fluid or Mailplane for Gmail - I've been a Mailplane user since its days in beta, and it's my favorite way to use Gmail. Of course you could also use a Fluid browser instead.
Option 3: Use an app instead - This may be too obvious to even suggest, but there are good alternatives for using Google's services in a web browser. You can use Mail, Sparrow or Postbox instead of Gmail, or BusyCal instead of Google Calendar. I vastly prefer GrowlVoice to using Google Voice's website (although there are some Google Voice settings you can't access except through the website, but they aren't ones you'll probably use often).
Option 4: Log in to Google quickly using 1Password - If you use 1Password , you can make a "one click" bookmark for logging into Google/Gmail/Google Calendar/etc. Just drag the entry from 1Password to your the bookmark bar in your browser of choice. Brett Kelly did a nice write-up about that feature.
"I don't trust anyone! I want to delete everything!"
This seems like a huge overreaction, but in just a few minutes of casual web browsing, there are 44 websites which have stored cookies and other cache files on my computer. Are Google and Facebook the only companies out there doing nefarious things with tracking activity online, even if you've told Safari not to accept 3rd party cookies? That seems doubtful. Google and Facebook may be the largest companies, but probably not the only ones.
So maybe it isn't a terrible idea. The question is how to do it. If you try to disable cookies, caches, and everything else from within the browser, you'll find a lot of sites just don't work. Instead, it's probably easier to just let the browser work as designed, but then clean up after it. There are two ways to do this: the manual, GUI way, or the automatic, scripted way.
The manual, GUI way is to use the "Reset Safari..."
That option will bring up a whole host of "cleaning" options:
By default there's no keyboard shortcut for it, but you can make one in System Preferences