A simple guide to deleting your search history

Deleting your search history sounds simple. Find the right option in your web browser, click “delete,” go home.

Unfortunately, it’s not always quite so simple. Your web browser isn’t the only thing that tracks your search history; so does Google, YouTube, and others. In this guide, we’ll take a look at why you might want to delete your search history, and then look at the different ways to do it.

Why and when to clear your search history

Why clear your search history? To hide something, of course!

Now, that doesn’t need to be as ominous as it sounds. You might be hiding a birthday gift froma loved one who uses the same computer. Or you might simply be trying to anonymize from the advertising companies and third-party data brokers who track your browsing history.

So when should you clear your search history? It depends on how much you like the current Internet economy. In today’s Internet, almost everything relies on the transfer of user data. By tracking your habits, advertisers can target ads. Indeed, several browsers partner with Google to share user search information.

If you don’t feel comfortable with anonymous entities harvesting your data, start by clearing your search history. Consider also switching your search engine from Google to an alternative like Yahoo!, Startpage, or DuckDuckGo. Even better, switch browsers entirely - use Brave, which actually values your privacy and security on the Internet.

How to clear all Google search history

Mention “clearing your Internet search history,” and most people assume you’re talking about your Internet browser. On the other hand, your browser isn’t the only thing that tracks your search history. Most search engines track you as well, and Google - the most popular search engine - tracks you more than you might think. If general Internet privacy is your big concern, you’ll want to start by regularly deleting your Google search history.

  1. Fortunately, that’s an easy thing to do! Follow these simple steps.
  2. Go to the Google home page i.e. https://www.google.com/
  3. At the bottom right of the page, click on “Settings” and a menu will appear.
  4. Select “Your data in Search”.
  5. This will open a new page. Under the ‘Your Search activity’ section there is an option to “Delete your Search activity”.
  6. Click on either “Delete last hour” or “Delete all Search activity” depending on your preference.

In the “Your data in Search” menu you’ll also find options to manage exactly what information Google can save. Not only is it important to know how to manage that information, but it’s also an important reminder that the default options allow Google to track your browsing history even when you’re using browsers other than Chrome.

Brave’s Shields block Google’s trackers, reducing the information Google can gather on you. Of course, if you use Google as your search engine, they’ll still be able to track your search history. lf you do, you’ll still want to regularly delete your search history.

Viewing and clearing your Internet browsing history

With your Google search history wiped, you’re ready to start clearing off your Internet browser history. We’ll cover specific instructions for most of the major browsers below.

Consider changing your default search engine. All browsers allow you to change your default search engine; not all of them want you to, though. If you’re serious about Internet privacy and keeping your search history private, you may want to change that default search engine and avoid Google altogether. Brave presents you with this option when you open the browser for the first time. It’s part of Brave’s user-obsessed mission.

How to clear browsing data on Brave

Brave’s Shields automatically block trackers and unwanted ads that would lead you to clear your browsing history. However, if you still need to erase something, you can do so by:

  1. Click on the Menu icon in the top right, and go to “Settings”.
  2. Go to Additional settings → Privacy and Security → Clear browsing data
    • A quicker way to get to this page would be to enter brave://settings/clearBrowserData into your address bar.
    • See “Advanced” for a breakdown of the data you can clear
  3. Select “Browsing history” (if you only want to clear Browsing History, deselect “Cookies and other site data” and “Cached images and files”).
  4. Click “Clear data”.

How to delete your Chrome browsing history

Chrome uses the same basic system that most browsers use for finding and deleting your search history.

  1. Open the Chrome browser and click on the Menu button (three bars) in the top right.
  2. Click on “History” → “History”.
  3. On the left, click on “Clear browsing data” and a box will appear.
  4. Options will appear to ‘Clear browsing data’ with a ‘Basic’ and ‘Advanced’ tab.
  5. Select a time range and the history you want to delete.
  6. Click “Clear data”.

How to clear your browsing history on Microsoft Edge

  1. Open the Edge browser, click on the Setting menu button (3 dots) in the top right → “Settings” → “Privacy, search, and services”
  2. Under the “Clear browsing data” section click on the “Choose what to clear” button.
  3. Select your “Time range” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Choose the data you want to delete by ticking the preferred boxes.
  5. Click on “Clear now”.

Note: If you only want to delete the browsing history on the device you’re on, make sure sync is turned off.

How to clear browsing history on Firefox

  1. Open the Firefox browser and click on the “Library” button in the top right of your browser.
  2. Click on “History” and then “Clear Recent History…”
  3. A box will appear that displays “Time range”, “History” and “Data” options.
  4. Select the time range to clear from the dropdown and check the boxes for the history and data to clear.
  5. Click on the “OK” button.

How to clear browsing history on Vivaldi

  1. Open the Vivaldi browser and click on the ‘History’ button on the top menu of the Start Page (vivaldi://startpage);
  2. Click on the ‘Clear Data’ (brush button) on the right side of the page.

Or alternatively, open the Delete Browsing Data window:

  1. From Vivaldi menu button Vivaldi Menu → Tools → Delete Browsing Data
  2. Select the time range and the data types you want to delete.
  3. Click “Delete”.

How to clear browsing history on Opera

  1. Click on the “History” button in the sidebar (clock icon) or alternatively press Ctrl + H.
  2. Click on the “Clear browsing data” button in the top-right corner.
  3. Set the time period and ensure “Browser History” is checked.
  4. Click on “Clear data”

For all of these browsers, finding the option to delete browsing data should also bring up a list of associated options like clearing cookies or cache. You may also be able to select the time frame you want to be deleted; the past ten minutes, or hour, or day, etc. There should always be an option to delete all browsing history.

Private Browsing vs. Incognito Mode

Do you still need to delete your search history if you use Incognito Mode on Chrome or Brave’s Private Browsing? The short answer is no, but it is worth considering just what Incognito Mode does or does not do.

Incognito Mode hides your search history, websites visited, and cookies from only one place: your own computer. It does NOT conceal your activity from the websites you visit, nor does Incognito Mode block trackers from those sites.

Incognito Mode is useful when you are sharing a computer and don’t want another user to see your search history. If you want a browser that goes the extra step to keeping you truly private and secure on the Internet, you’ll want Brave - and its special Private Browsing with Tor.

Private Browsing with Tor

First, with Brave’s Private Browsing you will have all the normal protection Brave provides - blockers will be tracked and you will have far more anonymity than Chrome provides.

But in Private Browsing mode, Brave adds the extra anonymity of the Tor network. This is a lighter version of the Tor browser, a highly secure browser that connects you to the Internet through a series of relays. Websites can see that you have connected from the Tor network, but it’s almost impossible to track who you are through the network. That’s because Private Browsing connects you to three computers in succession on the network; only the first computer knows where the connection is coming from, and only the last knows where it is going. With an extra computer in the middle, tracking everything becomes impossible.

Of course, Brave’s Private Browsing also keeps things anonymous on your end, as well - your search history is automatically deleted when you close the tab.

Deleting your search history: mobile edition!

For your mobile browsers, you’re looking for roughly the same menus and options that you would use in the desktop versions. Of course, the layout will be different, and the shortcut options are unavailable.

Brave

  1. Select the “three dots” menu at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on “Settings” and scroll down to “Clear private data”.
  3. Toggle the data options you want to clear and select “Clear private Data”.

Chrome

  1. Select the “three dots” menu at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on “History”.
  3. At the bottom of the screen, click on “Clear Browsing Data…”
  4. Ensure the ‘Browsing History’ option is ticked.
  5. Click on “Clear Browsing History”.

Firefox

  1. Select the “three dots” menu at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on the “Your Library” which will bring up your ‘History’.
  3. Click on “Clear Recent History…” which will then present 4 time related options.
  4. Clicking on “Everything” will remove history, cookies and other browser data.

Opera Mini

  1. Select the “Opera” symbol at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on “Settings” and then “Clear browsing data”.
  3. Choose the “Browsing History” option.
  4. Click on “Clear”.

When NOT to clear your browsing history

For most browsers, the process of deleting your browsing history isn’t complicated. But it is worth remembering that you may not want to delete all your browsing history, for at least three reasons.

Cookies are good.

Cookies often get lumped in with trackers and other nefarious Internet devices, but they are actually intended to help, not hinder. Cookies are time-savers, packets of information that help identify your computer to a website. Deleting cookies may have some short-term benefits, but most cookies are simply part of how the Internet works and do not need to be removed.

Not all browsers are trackers!

All browsers are NOT created equal. Google Chrome is in the data brokerage business - as evidenced by all the information the browser harvests. Other browsers share data with Google. But Brave turns all of that on its head. Brave actively blocks trackers, and only allows ads that you decide to view - an opt-in system with all the information stored locally on your computer to safeguard it.

You can delete your browsing history with Brave - you just might not need to.

You can learn from history.

Search history is there in part to help us remember. From your search history, you can reclaim a tab you may not have wanted to close or try to recover the name of a site you forgot. Browsers store your search history for multiple reasons, and some are actually helpful!

Other searches to delete

It’s not just about deleting your search history; it’s about managing your privacy and security on the Internet. That means that in addition to deleting your Internet browser history and your search engine history, you should remember that other websites and applications have embedded search functions that track your habits.

Facebook

The newest Facebook update makes clearing your searches surprisingly easy. Click on the Facebook search bar. Underneath, a list of recent searches will appear. On the right-hand side of the list, you’ll see an option for “Edit Search.” Select that option and you’ll reach the Activity Log where you’ll see an option to “Clear Searches.”

Selecting that option clears all your Facebook search data, although it will still be stored on Facebook’s computers.

YouTube

Click here for an in-depth guide to clearing your YouTube search history. But here’s the short version; log in to YouTube, and use the “History” tab from the menu on the left to browse and clear both your “Watch history” and your “YouTube search history”. For more advanced options, click on your profile picture and scroll down to find the “Your Data in YouTube” menu.

Avoid unwanted tracking - use the Brave browser

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the old saying goes. Brave prioritizes your privacy on the Internet, with Shields that block unwanted trackers and other dirty Internet tricks. You can eliminate a lot of the reasons for ever needing to delete your history in the first place by switching to Brave. See why millions have switched from Chrome. Download Brave today!

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