[HOWTO] Set Cookie Header on DefaultRequestHeaders of HttpClient

For one of our customers we had to implement Cookie handling for authentication purposes. This means reading the session token out of the Set-Cookie header and send the session token in the Cookie header of every request. When using the HttpClient from System.Net.Http there are two possibilites to do that. Either by passing a HttpClientHandler with a CookieContainer to the HttpClient, which then automatically handles cookies (See here), or by manually handle them. As we create a new instance of the HttpClient in our wrapper for every request, we had to go for the 2nd option.

We then tried to manually add the Cookie header with the session token as value to the DefaultRequestHeaders of the HttpClient as follows.

using (var httpClient = new HttpClient())
{
    var uri = new Uri("http://www.example.com");
    httpClient.BaseAddress = uri;
    httpClient.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Cookie", "auth=ArbitrarySessionToken");
    var response = httpClient.GetAsync(uri).Result;
}

Adding the Cookie header to the DefaultRequestHeaders worked fine without any exception. However unexpectedly the Cookie header got ignored by the HttpClient and was not present in the request. We searched in the internet for a solution to solve this problem and found the answer on StackOverflow. The solution was to pass a HttpClientHandler with the UseCookies property set to false to the constructor of the HttpClient.

using (var httpClient = new HttpClient(new HttpClientHandler { UseCookies = false }))
{
    var uri = new Uri("http://www.example.com");
    httpClient.BaseAddress = uri;
    httpClient.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Cookie", "auth=ArbitrarySessionToken");
    var response = httpClient.GetAsync(uri).Result;
}

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