How To: Delete web browser history tracks
When you surf the Internet, your web browser - be it Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera or another browser - keeps track of the sites you have visited, the addresses you have typed in, the words you searched for at Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and other evidence of what you were doing. This information is kept, not to spy on you, but to allow the software to make it easier and faster for you to revisit those sites or make another search using the same terms. But this stored information may be embarrassing if you don't want other people to see what you were up to. So how can you delete this browser history and clean up your computer so that the tracks of your surfing activities are no longer visible?
Most web browsers provide ways to clear the most obvious history tracks: these are are described below. However, these built-in clear history tools may not delete the less obvious history information. Add-ins like browser toolbars and plug-ins used to view certain types of file may also keep their own history information. Therefore the only effective way to ensure that all history data is removed is to use a dedicated privacy tool.
How to clear Internet Explorer's history list
- In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, Internet Options.
- On the General tab, click Clear History.
- You may also want to click Delete Files... and Delete Cookies...
Internet Explorer also stores information you have entered in forms (including search boxes) so that it can save re-typing the same information. This feature is called AutoComplete. To clear the AutoComplete list:
- Click on Tools, Internet Options.
- Select the Content tab.
- Click AutoComplete...
- Under Clear AutoComplete history, click Clear Forms.
How to clear the Mozilla Firefox history list
- In Mozilla Firefox, click on Tools, Options.
- Select Privacy.
- For History, click Clear.
- You may also want to clear Saved Form Information, Download Manager History, Cookies and Cache.
Using a privacy tool
It's tiresome to have to perform these steps whenever you have finished a session on the Internet, and it's easy to forget to do so. Also, these methods don't completely erase all traces of your web surfing activities. If you delete the browser cache (Temporary Internet Files) by clicking Delete Files in Internet Explorer, the files are deleted but the web addresses of all the web pages and images you downloaded still remain in files named index.dat.
The easiest, safest way to ensure that your private activities are securely erased is to use an Internet privacy tool such as Privacy Guardian. Privacy Guardian will also ensure that history information logged by other applications and browser plug-ins is deleted, which the methods described above can not.