What Is 'Do Not Track' and How Do I Use It?

Retain your privacy when surfing the web

Online advertisers depend on tracking data to target their advertisements and marketing campaigns. This tracking data is mostly made up of cookies, browsing history, location information, and other details that are often shared without users knowing.

However, much like there is a "Do Not Call" Registry for telemarketers, internet users can request websites withhold data from marketers, advertisers, and other prying eyes.

Do Not Track

Do Not Track is a privacy preference available in most web browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

This setting is an HTTP header field presented by a web browser to various websites. The DNT header communicates to servers that a given user reflects one of three value commands:

  • Value 1: The user does not want to be tracked (opt-out)
  • Value 2: The user consents to being tracked (opt-in)
  • Null Value: The tracking option has not been set by the user

There is currently no law mandating advertisers abide by users' "do not track" preferences, but sites may choose to honor the preference based on the value set in this field. You can research which sites honor Do Not Track by reviewing their privacy policies.

Set Up Do Not Track in Firefox

Here's how to set the Do Not Track preference value in Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Select the Open menu in the upper right corner, then select Preferences. Alternatively, select Firefox from the menu bar, then select Preferences...

    A screenshot of Firefox with the Preferences option highlighted
  2. Select the Privacy & Security from the menu on the left-hand side.

    A screenshot of Firefox preferences with the Privacy & Security heading highlighted
  3. Under the Browser Privacy section, select the Always option for Send websites a "Do Not Track" signal that you don't want to be tracked.

Firefox also offers a number of website-specific tracker protections you can adjust in this section.

Set Up Do Not Track in Chrome

Here's how to set the Do Not Track preference value in Google Chrome:

  1. In the top right-hand corner of the browser, select the Chrome menu icon, indicated by three vertical dots.

    A screenshot of Chrome with the More Options menu highlighted
  2. Select Settings.

    A screenshot of Chrome with the Settings command highlighted
  3. Select Privacy and Security from the menu on the left.

    A screenshot of Chrome settings with the Privacy and Security heading highlighted
  4. Under the Privacy and Security section, select the More drop-down menu.

    A screenshot of the Privacy and Security section of Chrome settings with the More arrow highlighted
  5. Toggle the Do Not Track option to On.

    A screenshot of Chrome settings with the switch next to "Do Not Track" highlighted
  6. A message will ask you to confirm the setting and to acknowledge its limitations. Select Confirm.

    A screenshot of the Do Not Track confirmation screen in Chrome with the Confirm button highlighted

Set Up Do Not Track in Safari

Here's how to set the Do Not Track preference value in Apple Safari:

  1. From the menu bar, select Safari > Preferences...

    A screenshot of Safari with the Preferences menu item highlighted
  2. Select the Privacy tab.

    A screenshot of Safari Preferences with the Privacy tab highlighted
  3. Select the checkbox for Prevent cross-site tracking.

    A screenshot of Safari Privacy settings with the Prevent cross-site tracking checkbox highlighted

Set Up Do Not Track in Edge

Here's how to set the Do Not Track preference value in Microsoft Edge:

  1. Select Settings and more icon, indicated by three dots in the upper right corner.

    A screenshot of Microsoft Edge with the More icon highlighted
  2. Select Settings.

    A screenshot of Microsoft Edge with the Settings option highlighted
  3. Select Privacy and Services from the menu on the left.

    A screenshot of Edge settings with the Privacy and Services heading highlighted
  4. Scroll down and toggle on the setting for Send "Do Not Track" requests.

    A screenshot of Edge privacy settings with the Do Not Track switch highlighted
  5. Confirm the change by selecting Send Request.

Microsoft Edge also offers a number of website-specific tracker protections you can adjust in this section.

A screenshot of Edge's Do Not Track confirmation window with the Send Request button highlighted

Set Up Do Not Track in Internet Explorer

Here's how to set the Do Not Track preference value in Microsoft Internet Explorer:

  1. Select the Tools menu or select the tool icon in the upper-right corner.

  2. Select Internet Options, located near the bottom of the drop-down menu.

  3. Select the Advanced tab in the upper right-hand corner of the pop-up menu.

  4. In the settings menu, scroll down to the Security section.

  5. Check the box that reads Send Do Not Track requests to sites you visit in Internet Explorer.