How to Clear Your Browsing and Search History?
One of the biggest improvements you can make to your browsing history is to clear its saved content and recorded history regularly. While records of your past activity can help find a recent article or restore a tab, having weeks or months of search history in your browser can also be frustrating and somewhat creepy. For one, marketers could use your browser history to produce ads that they know will appeal to you based on the searches you’ve made in the past. So, periodically erasing your search history will keep your browser from getting clogged up with data.
The steps needed to clear your history, however, depend on the browser that you use. This guide takes a step-by-step look at how to clear your search and browsing history, depending on your device and browser choice.
What Your Browser Saves
Before clearing your browsing and search history, you should understand what your browser saves whenever you bring up Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or any other browser. The two most important things saved by your browser include all your queries on search engines and all the websites you visit. Aside from the everyday things you do in your browser, other types of information saved on your browser include:
- Download history
- Cookies and similar site data
- Cached files and images
- Auto-fill form data
- Specialized settings
Is It Possible to Clear Search and Browsing History?
Regardless of your browser type, it only takes a few minutes to clear your search and browsing history. Most browsers allow users to determine how much of their browsing history they would like to delete. While deleting browser history is simple and straightforward, it differs with each browser.
If you use the Microsoft Edge browser, you should first select the three dots placed at the right side of the browser’s address bar. Once selected, a menu will appear, from which you should choose the “Settings” option. Next, navigate to the “Privacy and Search” tab. You should notice a “Clear Browsing Data” on this tab. Click the “Choose What to Clear” option to decide what aspects of your history should be cleared.
Along with browsing history, you could also choose to clear all of the cached data. Even though this will eliminate any saved passwords on your browser, it may help improve browser performance. When you have made your selections, all left to do is click the “Clear” button, eliminating all of your browsing history in Microsoft Edge.
If Apple Safari is your internet browser, it’s easy to delete your entire browsing history. To start, open the Safari menu and click the “Clear History” button. A drop-down menu will appear, allowing you to select the exact time you want your history deleted. Once you’ve made your choice, select the “Clear History” button again to confirm your decision. Remember that the Apple Safari browser doesn’t allow users to choose which data types to delete. When you delete your browsing history, your browser will also clear all your cached files and cookies.
If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, you’ll notice three horizontal lines situated on the right side of the browser’s address bar. When you click on this area, the Firefox menu will appear. Select the “Options” button and click “Privacy & Security”. The next step involves scrolling to the primary “Cookie & Site Data” area. From here, you’ll be able to either clear the data entirely or manage your data if you want to have additional control over what information gets deleted.
An option is also available that will allow you to have your browser history cleared whenever the Firefox browser is closed, ensuring that you don’t need to go through this process whenever you want to delete your browser history.
Another popular internet browser is Google Chrome, which allows users to clear browser history efficiently. Like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome contains three separate dots on the right side of the browser’s address bar. When you click these dots, select the “Settings” option. Go to the “Privacy & Security” section before clicking on the “Clear Browsing Data” option. At this point, you’ll be allowed to delete different aspects of your browsing history. After you’ve made your selections, choose when you want to clear the data. The “Clear Data” button should then be selected.
Should Cookies Be Enabled or Disabled When Browsing?
Cookies are small pieces of data that a website receives and sends back to your device without changing or altering the information provided. Cookies allow websites to offer personalized user experiences. Some common examples of cookies are:
- Username and password
- Online spending habits
- User browsing behavior
Cookies, by nature, are not entirely harmful. They don’t usually compromise user security as an international law prohibits websites from exploiting information gathered from cookies.
It’s up to you to disable or enable your cookies. It’s up to you if you will allow websites to personalize your user experience. Either option is fine. However, make sure only to accept cookies from reputable websites. And as much as possible, disable cookies from malicious-looking websites.
It’s completely fine to enable cookies from reputable websites. When enabled, you’ll get a more tailored and personalized user experience. It would be easier for you to look for relevant content on the website.
Although enabling cookies is not mandatory, some websites won’t function as intended when cookies are disabled. Examples are e-commerce websites. So, if a website says that cookies should be enabled, you’ll be required to turn it on if you want to access the website.
It’s completely fine to disable cookies. It’s not mandatory to accept cookies. When disabled, some companies won’t allow access to their websites, while others will simply limit your browsing experience.
→ Dig Deeper: To Disable or Enable Cookies
How to Clear Your Browsing and Search History
Deleting your search history is different from deleting your browsing history. While deleting browsing history should have deleted the vast majority of the searches you’ve made, this only applies to the specific computer you’re using. You can delete your entire search history across multiple devices if you have an account with universally-used search engines.
To delete your search history on Google, follow these steps:
- Select the dots at the right corner of the Google web page. When a list of options appears, select “Account”.
- Once you’re taken to your account, “Privacy & Personalization” will be your first option. Click the button that says “Manage Your Data & Personalization”.
- Under the “Activity and Timeline” area is a “My Activity” box, which you should click. You’ll then see a long list of websites and links that can be deleted individually or together.
- Beside each website name will be three dots, which you can click to delete. If you’d rather delete your entire search history, select the “Delete Activity By” option on the left menu.
- When a popup appears, you’ll have the chance to determine the range of time that you want your searches to be deleted.
- While it’s possible to create a custom range, you can also choose the “All Time” option, which will delete every facet of your search history on Google. You’ll then be asked to confirm your decision.
Deleting your search history with Bing can be done in eight simple steps:
- Log in to your primary Microsoft account
- Three bars will appear next to the login area, which you should click on before selecting “Search History”.
- From here, you’ll need to click the “View and Delete Search History” button, which will take you to another site.
- Another login will need to be made.
- Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a “View and Clear Search History” button, which should be selected.
- On the left menu, click the “Search” button.
- While it’s possible to delete items individually, the “Clear Activity” button situated along the upper right section of the page will allow you to clear all content from your search history.
- Click the “Clear” button.
Clearing your search history with Yahoo only takes six steps to complete:
- Log in to your Yahoo account.
- Go to the right corner at the top of the page and select “Settings”.
- At the far left, you should click “Search History”.
- You’ll be presented with a list of all search queries you’ve made, which you can delete individually by selecting the garbage icon.
- To delete every query, select the “Clear History” option before clicking the “Delete” button.
- If you don’t want your search history saved for future queries, consider selecting the “Turn History Off” button.
Does Clearing Browser History Fully Delete It?
While clearing your browsing history is a great way to declutter your browser and restore some privacy to your browsing experience, it’s essential to understand that clearing your browser history doesn’t entirely delete everything. With the searches you make and the web pages you visit, a large amount of additional data is also saved by the browser you use. This data may include your download history, cached files, images, cookies, passwords, and settings for specific sites that you’ve entered in the past.
While these aspects of your browsing history aren’t cleared completely when you delete your browsing history, they are relatively harmless and are designed to assist with your browsing experience. For instance, site settings are permissions you give to specific websites not to show popups or allow the use of a camera. Your browsing experience would likely worsen significantly if these settings were reset every time you deleted your browsing history.
No matter the reason why you want to clear your browsing and search history, doing so is simple with any browser and search engine. Now that you understand how to clear your browsing and search history, taking the necessary steps to delete this history should only take a few minutes of your time. And while you’re at it, make sure to protect yourself while browsing the Internet. You can increase your browser’s layers of protection using McAfee Total Protection or Web Advisor.