Safari 3rd party cookie iframe trick no longer working?

So this is the umteenth revenge of the "how do I get 3rd party cookies to work in Safari" question but I'm asking again because I think the playing field has changed, perhaps after February 2012. One of the standard tricks to get 3rd party cookies in Safari was as follows: use some javascript to POST to a hidden iframe. It (used to) trick Safari into thinking that the user had interacted with the 3rd party content and so then allow cookies to be set.

I think this loophole has been closed in the wake of the mild scandal where it was revealed that Google was using that trick with its ads. At the very least, while using this trick I have been completely unable to set cookies in Safari. I unearthed some random internet postings that claimed that Apple was working on closing the loophole but I haven't found any official word.

As a fallback I even tried redesigning the main third party frame so that you had to click on a button before the content would load but even that level of direct interaction was not enough to melt Safari's cold cold heart.

So does anyone know for certain if Safari has indeed closed this loophole? If so, are there other workarounds (other than manually including a session ID in every request)?

Just wanted to leave a simple working solution here that does not require user interaction.

As I stated in a post I made:

Basically all you need to do is load your page on top.location, create the session and redirect it back to facebook.

Add this code in the top of your index.php and set $page_url to your application final tab/app URL and you’ll see your application will work without any problem.

    $page_url = "";
    if (isset($_GET["start_session"]))
        die(header("Location:" . $page_url));

    if (!isset($_GET["sid"]))
        die(header("Location:?sid=" . session_id()));
    $sid = session_id();
    if (empty($sid) || $_GET["sid"] != $sid):

Note: This was made for facebook, but it would actually work within any other similar situations.

Edit 20-Dec-2012 - Maintaining Signed Request:

The above code does not maintain the requests post data, and you would loose the signed_request, if your application relies on signed request feel free to try the following code:

Note: This is still being tested properly and may be less stable than the first version. Use at your own risk / Feedback is appreciated.

(Thanks to CBroe for pointing me into the right direction here allowing to improve the solution)

// Start Session Fix
$page_url = "";
if (isset($_GET["start_session"]))
    die(header("Location:" . $page_url));
$sid = session_id();
if (!isset($_GET["sid"]))
       $_SESSION["signed_request"] = $_POST["signed_request"];
    die(header("Location:?sid=" . $sid));
if (empty($sid) || $_GET["sid"] != $sid)
// End Session Fix

You said you were willing to have your users click a button before the content loads. My solution was to have a button open a new browser window. That window sets a cookie for my domain, refreshes the opener and then closes.

So your main script could look like:

<?php if(count($_COOKIE) > 0): ?>
<!--Main Content Stuff-->
<?php else: ?>
<a href="/safari_cookie_fix.php" target="_blank">Click here to load content</a>
<?php endif ?>

Then safari_cookie_fix.php looks like:

setcookie("safari_test", "1");
        <title>Safari Fix</title>
        <script type="text/javascript" src="/libraries/prototype.min.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
    document.observe('dom:loaded', function(){
    This window should close automatically

I tricked Safari with a .htaccess:

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header set P3P "policyref=\"/w3c/p3p.xml\", CP=\"NOI DSP COR NID CUR ADM DEV OUR BUS\""
Header set Set-Cookie "test_cookie=1"

And it stopped working for me too. All my apps are losing the session in Safari and are redirecting out of Facebook. As I'm in a hurry to fix those apps, I'm currently searching for a solution. I'll keep you posted.

Edit (2012-04-06): Apparently Apple "fixed" it with 5.1.4. I'm sure this is the reaction to the Google-thing: "An issue existed in the enforcement of its cookie policy. Third-party websites could set cookies if the "Block Cookies" preference in Safari was set to the default setting of "From third parties and advertisers".

In your Ruby on Rails controller you can use:


before_filter :safari_cookie_fix

def safari_cookie_fix
  user_agent = UserAgent.parse(request.user_agent) # Uses useragent gem!
  if user_agent.browser == 'Safari' # we apply the fix..
    return if session[:safari_cookie_fixed] # it is already fixed.. continue
    if params[:safari_cookie_fix].present? # we should be top window and able to set cookies.. so fix the issue :)
      session[:safari_cookie_fixed] = true
      redirect_to params[:return_to]
      # Redirect the top frame to your server..
      render :text => "<script>alert('start redirect');top.window.location='?safari_cookie_fix=true&return_to=#{set_your_return_url}';</script>"

For my specific situation I resolved the problem by using window.postMessage() and eliminating any user interaction. Note that this will only work if you can somehow execute js in the parent window. Either by having it include a js from your domain, or if you have direct access to the source.

In the iframe (domain-b) i check for the presence of a cookie and if it is not set will send a postMessage to the parent (domain-a). Eg;

if (navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Safari') != -1 && navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Chrome') == -1
    && document.cookie.indexOf("safari_cookie_fix") < 0) {
    window.parent.postMessage(JSON.stringify({ event: "safariCookieFix", data: {} }));

Then in the parent window (domain-a) listen for the event.

if (typeof window.addEventListener !== "undefined") {
    window.addEventListener("message", messageReceived, false);

function messageReceived (e) {
    var data;

    if (e.origin !== "") {

    try {
        data = JSON.parse(;
    catch (err) {

    if (typeof data !== "object" || typeof data.event !== "string" || typeof === "undefined") {

    if (data.event === "safariCookieFix") {
        window.location.href = e.origin + "/safari/cookiefix"; // Or whatever your url is

Finally on your server ( you set the cookie and redirect back to where the user came from. Below example is using ASP.NET MVC

public class SafariController : Controller
    public ActionResult CookieFix()
        Response.Cookies.Add(new HttpCookie("safari_cookie_fix", "1"));

        return Redirect(Request.UrlReferrer != null ? Request.UrlReferrer.OriginalString : "");


I had the same problem and today I found a fix that works fine for me. If the user agent contains Safari and no cookies are set, I redirect the user to the OAuth Dialog:

<?php if ( ! count($_COOKIE) > 0 && strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'Safari')) { ?>
<script type="text/javascript"> = '';
<?php } ?>

After authentication and asking for permissions the OAuth Dialog will redirect to my URI in the top location. So setting cookies is possible. For all of our canvas and page tab apps I have already included the following script:

<script type="text/javascript">
    if (top.location.href==location.href) top.location.href = 'MY_TAB_URL';

So the user will be redirected again to the Facebook page tab with a valid cookie already set and the signed request is posted again.

I finally went for a similar solution to the one that Sascha provided, however with some little adjusting, since I'm setting the cookies explicitly in PHP:

// excecute this code if user has not authorized the application yet
// $facebook object must have been created before

$accessToken = $_COOKIE['access_token']

if ( empty($accessToken) && strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'Safari') ) {

    $accessToken = $facebook->getAccessToken();
    $redirectUri = 'https://URL_WHERE_APP_IS_LOCATED?access_token=' . $accessToken;

} else {

    $redirectUri = '';


// generate link to auth dialog
$linkToOauthDialog = $facebook->getLoginUrl(
        'scope'         =>  SCOPE_PARAMS,
        'redirect_uri'  =>  $redirectUri

echo '<script>"' . $linkToOauthDialog . '";</script>';

What this does is check if the cookie is available when the browser is safari. In the next step, we are on the application domain, namely the URI provided as URL_WHERE_APP_IS_LOCATED above.

if (isset($_GET['accessToken'])) {

    // cookie has a lifetime of only 10 seconds, so that after
    // authorization it will disappear
    setcookie("access_token", $_GET['accessToken'], 10); 

} else {

  // depending on your application specific requirements
  // redirect, call or execute authorization code again
  // with the cookie now set, this should return FB Graph results


So after being redirecting to the application domain, a cookie is set explicitly, and I redirect the user to the authorization process.

In my case (since I'm using CakePHP but it should work fine with any other MVC framework) I'm calling the login action again where the FB authorization is executed another time, and this time it succeeds due to the existing cookie.

After having authorized the app once, I didn't have any more problems using the app with Safari (5.1.6)

Hope that might help anyone.

I had this problem on devices running iOS. I made a shop that is embeddable in a normal website using an iframe. Somehow, on every pageload the user got a new sessionid, resulting in users getting stuck halfway the process because some values weren't present in the session.

I tried some of the solutions given on this page, but popups don't work very well on an iPad and I needed the most transparent solution.

I resolved it using a redirect. The website that embeds my site must first redirect the user to my site, so the top frame contains the url to my site, where I set a cookie and redirect the user to the proper page on the website that embeds my site, that is passed through in the url.

Example PHP code

Remote website redirects user to


// set a cookie for a year
setcookie('initialized','1',time() + 3600 * 24 * 365, '/', '', false, false);
header('location: ' . $_GET['redir']);

The user ends up on where my site is embedded, storing sessions as it should and eating cookies.

Hope this helps someone.

Let me share my fix in ASP.NET MVC 4. The main idea like in correct answer for PHP. The next code added in main Layout in header near scripts section:

@if (Request.Browser.Browser=="Safari")
    string pageUrl = Request.Url.GetLeftPart(UriPartial.Path);
    if (Request.Params["safarifix"] != null && Request.Params["safarifix"] == "doSafariFix")
        Session["IsActiveSession"] = true;
        else if(Session["IsActiveSession"]==null)
        <script>top.window.location = "?safarifix=doSafariFix";</script>

This solution applies in some cases - if possible:

If the iframe content page uses a subdomain of the page containing the iframe, the cookie is no longer blocked.

Google actually let the cat out of the bag on this one. They were using it for a while to access tracking cookies. It was fixed almost immediately by Apple =\

original Wall Street Journal post

Here's some code that I use. I found that if I set any cookie from my site, then cookies magically work in the iframe from then on.

 if (isset($_GET['setdefaultcookie'])) {
        // top level page, set default cookie then redirect back to canvas page
        setcookie ('default',"1",0,"/");
        $url = substr($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'],strrpos($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'],"/")+1);
        $url = str_replace("setdefaultcookie","defaultcookieset",$url);
        $url = $facebookapp->getCanvasUrl($url);
        echo "<html>\n<body>\n<script>\ntop.location.href='".$url."';\n</script></body></html>";
    } else if ((!isset($_COOKIE['default'])) && (!isset($_GET['defaultcookieset']))) {
        // no default cookie, so we need to redirect to top level and set
        $url = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
        if (strpos($url,"?") === false) $url .= "?";
        else $url .= "&";
        $url .= "setdefaultcookie=1";
        echo "<html>\n<body>\n<script>\ntop.location.href='".$url."';\n</script></body></html>";

A slightly simper version in PHP of what others have posted:

if (!isset($_COOKIE, $_COOKIE['PHPSESSID'])) {
    print '<script>top.window.location="";</script>';

if (isset($_GET['start_session'])) {

I have found the perfect answer to this, all thanks to a guy called Allan that deserves all of the credit here. (

His solution is simple and easy to understand.

On iframe content server (domain 2), add a file called startsession.php at the root domain level that contains:

// startsession.php
$_SESSION['ensure_session'] = true;
die(header('location: '.$_GET['return']));

Now on the top level website containing the iframe (domain1), the call to the page containing the iframe should look like:

<a href="https://domain2/startsession.php?return=http://domain1/pageWithiFrame.html">page with iFrame</a>

And that's it! Simples :)

The reason this works is because you are directing the browser to a third party URL and thus telling it to trust it before showing content from it within the iframe.

I used modified (added signed_request param to the link) Whiteagle's trick and it worked ok for safari, but IE is constantly refreshing the page in that case. So my solution for safari and internet explorer is:

$fbapplink = '[appnamespace]/';
$isms = stripos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'msie') !== false;

// safari fix
if(! $isms  && !isset($_SESSION['signed_request'])) {

    if (isset($_GET["start_session"])) {
        $_SESSION['signed_request'] = $_GET['signed_request'];
        die(header("Location:" . $fbapplink ));

    if (!isset($_GET["sid"])) {
        die(header("Location:?sid=" . session_id() . '&signed_request='.$_REQUEST['signed_request']));
    $sid = session_id();
    if (empty($sid) || $_GET["sid"] != $sid) {

// IE fix
header('P3P: CP="CAO PSA OUR"');
header('P3P: CP="HONK"');

.. later in the code

$sr = $_REQUEST['signed_request'];
if($sr) {
        $_SESSION['signed_request'] = $sr;
} else {
        $sr = $_SESSION['signed_request'];

I have also been suffering from this problem, but finally got the solution, Initially directly the load the iframe url in browser like small popup then only access the session values inside the iframe.

I recently hit the same issue on Safari. The solution I figured out is based on the Local Storage HTML5 API. Using Local Storage you could emulate cookies.

Here's my blog post with details:

I decided to get rid of the $_SESSION variable all together & wrote a wrapper around memcache to mimic the session.


Use-case: The moment a user lands on the app, store the signed request using the Session_manager and since it's in the cache, you may access it on any page henceforth.

Note: This will not work when browsing privately in Safari since the session_id resets every time the page reloads. (Stupid Safari)

You can resolve this issue by adding header as p3p policy..i had same issue on safari so after adding header on top of the files has resolved my problem.


Safari now blocks all third party cookies. You can only use the Storage API to try to get user access to their third party cookies.