The browser history—a list of every page you’ve visited online and the time you were there—is a standard of modern computing. And it can lead to trouble. For most of us, sharing a PC is normal and handing off a smartphone to someone isn’t unheard of. It doesn’t matter if you’re encrypting your emails, using Tor and VPNs while browsing to stay anonymous, if someone has access to your devices, they can see where you’ve been. A browser can and will hold your history indefinitely. The goal is to help you find your way back to a perhaps-forgotten corner of the internet you visited once upon a time. The reality is, it can be used against you by significant others.
Go to the three-dot menu () at the upper-right of Chrome to select Settings > Advanced > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data or History > History > Clear browsing data or More tools > Clear browsing data. Or type “chrome://settings/clearBrowserData” in the omnibar without the quotation marks.Any of these options takes you to the dialog box to delete not only the history of your browsing, but also your download history all your cookies, cached images and files (which help load pages faster when you revisit), saved passwords and more.
Under the main menu in Opera, in the navigation bar on the left, click the clock icon to enter History. You’ll see a Clear browsing data button that offers almost identical settings as Chrome, right down to the “beginning of time” option. It’s similar because Opera is built with the engine from the Chromium Project, which also underlies Chrome. Opera offers a little extra to those who want to go around the web safely however—a built-in VPN option courtesy of SurfEasy, also found in the Privacy & Security settings.
Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer
Go to the three-dot menu () in Microsoft Edge and select Settings > Privacy & security; in the fly-out menu, click the button under Clear browsing data that reads “Choose what to clear.”Here you can get rid of browsing history, cookies, cached data, stored form data, saved tabs, media licenses, website permissions, and stored passwords; click Manage Permissions and you can delete things like sites you’ve given permission to show pop-ups.Like Google, Microsoft is keeping some of your history online. Click Change what Microsoft Edge knows about me in the cloud to visit a page for your Microsoft account where you can delete that synced browsing history. You can also delete search history at Bing.com, stored location data showing where you’ve logged in, and stuff you’ve stored in Cortana’s notebook.
On macOS, Safari rules. Clearing your website visit history is simple: click Clear History in the History menu. Then in the pop-up, pick a timeframe for how far back you want to erase. You can instead click History > Show History to get a pop-up displaying every site you’ve visited, then take out sites individually, without losing the cookies and cache. Zap cookies by going into Preferences > Privacy; delete your cache by going to the Develop menu and picking Empty Caches. If you don’t have a Develop menu in Safari, go to Preferences > Advanced and check Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar at bottom.
Firefox go to the hamburger menu () and section Options > Privacy & Security. You’re instantly in the Content Blocking section; scroll down to get to History. Check the Firefox Account section while you’re in here—if you’ve signed on with a Mozilla Firefox account, your history may be synced with your other PCs and devices using Firefox, even on smartphones.