A cookie is often used to identify a user.

What is a Cookie?

A cookie is often used to identify a user. A cookie is a small file that the server embeds on the user’s computer. Each time the same computer requests a page with a browser, it will send the cookie too. With PHP, you can both create and retrieve cookie values.

Create Cookies With PHP

A cookie is created with the setcookie() function.


setcookie(name, value, expire, path, domain, secure, httponly);

Only the name parameter is required. All other parameters are optional.

PHP Create/Retrieve a Cookie

The following example creates a cookie named “user” with the value “John Doe”. The cookie will expire after 30 days (86400 * 30). The “/” means that the cookie is available in entire website (otherwise, select the directory you prefer).

We then retrieve the value of the cookie “user” (using the global variable $_COOKIE). We also use the isset()function to find out if the cookie is set:


Note: The setcookie() function must appear BEFORE the <html> tag.

Note: The value of the cookie is automatically URLencoded when sending the cookie, and automatically decoded when received (to prevent URLencoding, use setrawcookie() instead).

Modify a Cookie Value

To modify a cookie, just set (again) the cookie using the setcookie() function:


Delete a Cookie

To delete a cookie, use the setcookie() function with an expiration date in the past:


Check if Cookies are Enabled

The following example creates a small script that checks whether cookies are enabled. First, try to create a test cookie with the setcookie() function, then count the $_COOKIE array variable:


Complete PHP HTTP Reference

For a complete reference of HTTP functions, go to our complete PHP HTTP Reference.