In this mobile world we seek to gain as much control as possible over the things that affect our privacy. We examine what permissions an app has before we install it. We make sure we never install apps outside of the assigned stores. We don’t hitch rides on untrusted Wi-fi. We encrypt our data.

At least those are some of the things we are supposed to be doing. And, to be fair, most of us do (or do not–there is no “try”). But what happens when you slide up to your desktop? Is that when you leave all of those concerns behind? Do you toss aside the idea that certain sites might well have permissions you don’t want to offer? These are questions we should all be answering.

Fortunately, Google has made the answering easy. Even on your desktop, permissions are important and with Google Chrome you are in control.

That’s right, Chrome does, in fact, offer the ability for the user to control site-by-site permissions. What’s even better, Chrome makes this incredibly easy.

Where to find it

When you visit a website, you’ll notice either the lock icon (for https) or the “i” icon (for http) to the left of the address. With that icon you can do two things:

  • Drag the icon to the bookmark bar to create a bookmark
  • Click on it to reveal the permissions settings for the site

When you click on the lock or the “i”, a popup window will appear (Figure A). In this popup window you will see the privacy status of the connection, the cookie status, the permissions, and a link to the site settings.

Figure A

The site permissions for TechRepublic.

You can set each permission for the site, by clicking on one of the available drop-downs and making your selection. Many of these permissions will be set to the global permission found in Settings | Advanced | Privacy | Content Settings. There may, however, be sites that perfectly align with the global permissions you’ve set. On the occasion you have a site that doesn’t work with those defaults, you can easily make the modifications.

Say, for instance, you have popups blocked in the global settings, but there is one site that requires popups to function. Instead of having to go in the old fashion way and manually add an exception, you can click the icon in the address bar and then click the Popups drop-down and select Always allow on this site. Done. Exception made.

With this feature, you can fine-tune the permissions for every website you visit with Chrome to make for an ideal setup/experience. It’s simple and it works.

Bonus feature

This tool isn’t just about permissions. With it you can also manage cookies. Click on the icon and then click the link under Cookies to view the list of cookies saved from the site (Figure B).

Figure B

Blocking and removing cookies saved by a website.

From the Cookies set by this page window, you can remove and block cookies by either selecting the cookie server and then click Block or expanding the server until you see the actual cookie and then click Remove. If you do block a cookie server, know that, for whatever reason, it will not appear in the Blocked tab. To see the list of blocked cookie servers, you have to go to Settings | Show Advanced Settings | Privacy | Content settings | Cookies | Manage exceptions. In that window (Figure C), you can see the list of blocked cookie servers.

Figure C

All of the cookie servers you have blocked are listed here.

Once you’ve changed the cookie settings for a site, the settings will not take effect until you reload said site.

A must-use

If you’re concerned about privacy (and you should be), do not overlook this incredibly handy feature found in Google Chrome. The ability to set site-by-site permissions puts all the power in the hands of the user.