No-History Browsing: Clear your browser History

How can I clear the browser history?

Manually or using tools!

CTRL H

Clicking "Control H" in most browsers immediately opens the browsing history panel where you can see all of the sites recently visited. You can click through the history and sort it alphabetically, by order visited or by frequency visited. In Internet Explorer, CTRL+SHIFT+H launches the explorer history bar.

Control-H

This simple little key combination has gotten more people into trouble...

...knowing it, can help keep you out of trouble.

Once you open your history, you can go through it manually and delete items that you do not wish prying eyes to see. If you do it this way, you are unlikely to raise suspicion about why your entire history has been deleted... and thus prompt more intensive surveillance!

The other way is to get there via the menu as shown below:
ie history

 

Should you wish to delete your ENTIRE history, you can get there via Internet Options as shown below:

ie history delete

Clicking on "Internet Options" will open the following dialog:

ie history check

You can click on the delete button to delete your entire browsing history. You may also click the "Settings" button which will open yet another dialog...

ie history delete

The choices are fairly self-explanatory, but this is a lot of work to go through just to cover your tracks! Better to install some history/cookie/cache management plugins. See our software page for places to get such privacy and anonymizer plugins for your browser.

Firefox:

In Firefox, it works almost the same way... you can view the history much more easily, as there is a history menu item right on the main browser menu. You can also get at the settings by clicking on "Tools", then "Options" and the following dialog will open:

Firefox history

Can I still see what sites have been viewed after the history has been deleted?

Yes, there are three other ways to check, or more accurately ,three other places where your browsing history could be uncovered:

  1. Cookies
  2. Temporary Internet Files (Cache)
  3. Address Bar memory

Cookies:
Cookies are small pieces of text stored on your computer that help sites know which browser you are using and where you have been on the site and on Web sites to which you may link. Cookies also let sites know whether you have registered with them previously and otherwise enable them to relate your usage of a site. Some sites, such as Topix.net even use cookies to BAN forum members. So if you delete your path cookies and domain cookies for Topix.net, you are officially 'un-banned'.

People have deleted their browsing history only to be caught red handed with cookies or cached temp files. Use one of the browser plugins listed below to ensure that this does not happen to you - if you wish to browse privately.

Cache:
Cached files are things like temporary internet files which your browser stores to make pages load faster. Such files will be header images and images that tend to appear with some sort of frequency. This saves your bandwidth and speeds your browsing experience by not sending requests to the server all the time to retrieve the same images. So, for example, when you visit a site such as Google or Yahoo, the logo image is retrieved over the internet only once. Subsequently, your computer simply plucks it out of its cache instead of sending the request to the remote server again and again.

How can this get you caught? Simple, if you are surfing forbidden sites, images and logos from those sites end up in your cache where they may be found quite easily.

Address Bar:
You have probably already seen how the address bar in most browsers will display a dynamic drop down menu in anticipation of the address you may be typing. These items can reveal secrets. They are simple enough to remove, simply use your arrow keys to select the ones you wish to remove and hit the "DELETE" key. Done.

Address bar history

History, Cookie and Cache tools :

Addons to your browser which will manage your history, cookies and cache for you, such as the Firefox Anonymization toolbar - which is a does-it-all solution for browsing privacy.

  1. Anonymization Toolbar: Clear your online cache and history with this add on, which also lets you surf the Web with Firefox anonymously.
  2. Attention Recorder: This open source add-on lets users control their Web history and other "attention data" that can be stolen by hackers.
  3. Browse at Work: Visit personal profiles and other sites that may be considered taboo at the office with this add-on, which keeps your identity a secret.
  4. Clear Private Data: This extension makes Firefox's "Clear Private Data" feature as shown above more effective and easier to access.
  5. Temporary Inbox: Set up a temporary e-mail address and inbox with this app, which can help you avoid spam, viruses and someone tracking you to risque sites.
  6. SafeHistory: Keep hackers from finding out your online history with SafeHistory.
  7. SafeCache: SafeCache is a similar app that checks cookie settings and "segments the cache on the basis of the originating document, defending against web privacy attacks."
  8. hideBad 2.0: This tool is great for surfing the Web at work and for general security purposes. hideBad "quickly closes tabs that you do not want others to see" and clears your online history.
  9. PhProxy - InBasic 3.0.3B: Only your server’s IP address will show up when you visit sites, not yours.
  10. Ghostfox: This app doesn’t work with MacOSX, but it can be handy tool for Windows users who want to keep their Firefox browser invisible from passers by.
  11. KeyScrambler Personal: Here’s a great tool that’s unfortunately not available for MacOSX. The app encrypts your keystrokes so that passwords and other private information can’t be tracked.

If I clear my history, does it remove my cookies too?

No.

This bears repeating. Many have been betrayed by their cookies after meticulously deleting all scandalous links from their history. Don't forget the cookies!

If I clear my history, does it clear my cache too?

No.

Also bears repeating! Someone could snoop through your cache to see what you have viewed as well.