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5.9 Detecting Cookie Availability

NN 2, IE 3

5.9.1 Problem

You want your scripts to know whether the user's browser has cookies enabled.

5.9.2 Solution

Internet Explorer 4 or later and Netscape 6 or later feature the navigator.cookieEnabled property, which you can test at any place within a script:

if (navigator.cookieEnabled) {
    // invoke cookie statements here

For earlier versions of these browsers, you can test whether cookies are enabled by first checking for the presence of a value stored in the cookie. If no data is there, you can test write a cookie to see if it "sticks":

var cookieEnabled = false;
if (typeof document.cookie =  = "string") {
    if (document.cookie.length =  = 0) {
        document.cookie = "test";
        cookieEnabled = (document.cookie =  = "test");
        document.cookie = "";
    } else {
        cookieEnabled = true;

5.9.3 Discussion

The longer solution also works with browsers that have the navigator.cookieEnabled property, so you can use one solution for all scriptable browsers. The first if construction verifies that the document.cookie property returns a string value, which it does even when cookies are disabled by the user. If the string has any content, you know that cookies are enabled and that the cookie is in use for the domain that served up the current page. But if the string is empty, you can assign a simple value to it and see if it "sticks." If the value can be read back, cookies are enabled, and you empty the cookie so as not to disturb it for regular usage.

5.9.4 See Also

Recipe 1.9 for using client-side cookies; Recipe 10.4 for using cookies to pass data from document to document.

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