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How to use Vivaldi’s tools to protect your privacy while browsing

A highly customizable browser with privacy protections

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Vivaldi has an interesting history. The company behind it, Vivaldi Technologies, was founded by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, who was a co-founder of Opera Software. The browser is aimed at the more technologically savvy user, and as a result, it’s highly customizable.

Vivaldi offers a full explanation of its philosophy toward user privacy on the Privacy page in its About section. There, you can not only read about how it handles these issues on its browser, but also other issues such as what type of analytics it uses on its own websites and how it handles privacy issues in its community pages.

DEAL WITH TRACKERS

As might be expected, considering its emphasis on user customization, Vivaldi provides a number of privacy-enhancing tools and features, many of which can be found on the Privacy page in its Settings.

We’ve included directions on how to set Vivaldi to block and delete first-party cookies (which are primarily used to remember login information and what’s in your cart) as well as third-party tracking cookies (which are used by advertisers and other parties to follow your online activity). We also look at what protections Vivaldi has against a form of tracking that’s even harder to prevent: fingerprinting, which involves aggregating details about your device’s configuration to track individual users.

ADJUST YOUR TRACKING SETTINGS

To adjust your various settings, you start by going to Vivaldi’s Settings page (which is accessed via a cog at the bottom of the left-hand menu). Then click on “Privacy,” which is also in the left-hand menu. After that, you can tweak your various privacy features by checking or unchecking a number of boxes.

Vivaldi doesn’t block tracking cookies by default, but you can adjust your settings to have it do so.

  • Go to “Settings” > “Privacy”
  • Scroll down to “Cookies” (in the main window). Under “Third-Party Cookies,” check “Block Third-Party Cookies.”
  • Next to that is “Accept Cookies, where you can choose the parameters for allowing first-party cookies by selecting either “All,” “Session Only,” or “Never.”

You can find out what cookies are being blocked on a specific site, although the process is a little roundabout.

  • While browsing, look for the icon with two arrows on the right side of the address bar. Click on that to see how many cookies Vivaldi’s blocking.
  • If you click on “Manage Cookies” it will take you to that same “Privacy” page mentioned above. Scroll down to “Saved Cookies.”
  • Click on “Display Saved Cookies” to see the websites the cookies came from. Click on the site name, and the entry will open to show you all of the cookies that it left on your browser. Hover over the site entry, and an “X” will pop up on the right side. Click on that to delete all of the cookies from that site.
  • If you click on an individual cookie’s name, its name will be highlighted, and you can see details about that cookie, including its expiration date. Click on the “X” to delete it.
  • You can remove all of the cookies stored by Vivaldi by clicking “Delete All Cookies.”

While there isn’t a control to delete all cookies when you shut Vivaldi down, you can remove your browser history after each session.

  • Go to “Settings” > “Privacy” > “Save Browsing History”
  • Click on the drop-down menu and choose “Session Only.” Note that you need to restart the browser for the change to take effect.

FINGERPRINTING AND AD-BLOCKING

Vivaldi automatically blocks what it judges as harmful ads, such as those that mislead users, contain malware, create false system messages, redirect you automatically, or attempt to steal your information. If you want to make sure that feature is active:

  • Go to “Settings” > “Privacy”
  • Under “Content Blocking,” make sure the box next to “Block Ads on Abusive Sites” is ticked

Any other ad-blocking would have to be done via an extension.

Vivaldi doesn’t have any specific features to guard against fingerprinting. In fact, in a 2018 blog entry, team member Tarquin Wilton-Jones states that “The way to avoid fingerprinting, or to make it harder, is not to change settings. It is to remain as normal and ordinary as possible so that your browser appears just like everyone else’s.” The entry goes on to say that Vivaldi does “make it difficult for websites to fingerprint by placing limitations on the battery API, and putting little detail in the UA string.”

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