How to clear search history on your device

Big Tech search engines like Google and Bing keep a history of your searches and what you click on from search results. Why? Because that data is valuable—it helps them make money by selling highly targeted ads.

Want to delete your search history? It’s definitely possible to do so on your device (which can be helpful if you’re on a public computer, or you share a computer with other people). But note that this only clears history from the device itself. At least as far as Big Tech options are concerned, your search history is still stored even after you delete history—if you use Google or Microsoft Bing (for example) they’ll still have that data.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to clear search and browsing history, and look at some alternatives that keep search history / browser history hidden even from tech companies.

Why and when to clear your search history

Most often, when people ask how to “clear history” or “delete history,” they’re actually referring to browser history. This is the list of pages you’ve visited in your web browser (e.g. in Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Bing, or Mozilla Firefox). But note that searches you conduct within your browser can also be tracked by the search engine (e.g. Google or Microsoft Bing).

So why might you want to clear search history, in particular? Usually, it’s to hide a search you don’t want others to see. Been researching a birthday present on a shared home computer? Or a personal medical issue on a public computer? These are great—and common—reasons to clear history in your search engine.

But again, note that clearing search history usually only clears it from the device itself. The tech company that powers that search engine is often keeping a record of your searches, and this record won’t be cleared by deleting history from your device.

To delete Google search history on your device:

  1. Visit the Google homepage.
  2. Click Settings to display the browser menu.
  3. Click Your data in Search.
  4. Under Your Search activity, find Delete your Search activity.
  5. Select either Delete last hour or Delete all Search activity.

Note that in the Your data in Search section you’ll also find options to customize the info Google can collect in the future.

Bing

To delete Bing search history on your device:

  1. Visit the Bing homepage.
  2. Click the “” menu.
  3. Click Search History.
  4. Click Clear your search history.

Note that on the Search history page you can also customize privacy settings by clicking Privacy matters.

Viewing and clearing your web browser history

If you actually want to clear browsing history (as opposed to search history) from your device, you can easily do so on most major browsers. You’ll also find an option to clear cookies or cache, too.

Google Chrome

To delete your browsing history on Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. In the toolbar at the top of your computer screen, click Chrome.
  3. Click Clear browsing data…
  4. Select a time range and the history you want to delete.
  5. Click Clear data.

Note that if you’re syncing your Google account between devices (e.g. between your phone and laptop), you may want to turn off syncing if you only want to delete the browsing history on one particular device.

Microsoft Edge

To delete your browsing history on Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Click “” in the top right of the screen.
  3. Click History.
  4. Click “” (more options) in the panel that opens.
  5. Click Clear Browsing Data.
  6. Select a time range and the history you want to delete.
  7. Click Clear now.

Mozilla Firefox

To delete your browsing history on Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Click the “” menu.
  3. Click History.
  4. Click Clear recent history.
  5. Select a time range and the history you want to delete.
  6. Click OK.

Brave

To delete your browsing history on Brave:

  1. Open Brave.
  2. In the toolbar at the top of your computer screen, click Brave.
  3. Click Clear browsing data…
  4. Select a time range and the history you want to delete.
  5. Click Clear data.

Private windows and incognito mode

It’s important to note that private windows (or “Incognito mode”) can hide your search and browsing history on your device. But for Big Tech browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Bing, private / incognito windows don’t stop your activity from being collected.

Private / incognito windows can help if you share a computer and don’t want others to see your search / browsing history. But to keep your browsing history truly private, you’ll instead want a privacy browser like Brave.

Using Brave for real privacy

Most often, when people ask how to delete their search / browsing history, what they’re really looking for is privacy. From others who might share their device, and from Big Tech’s prying eyes. As you can see, deleting search / browsing history is only half the equation. For real privacy, you’ll want a browser / search engine combo that doesn’t collect your data in the first place. This is where Brave comes in.

Brave blocks trackers & ads. It blocks fingerprinting and phishing attempts. And neither the Brave Browser nor Brave Search track you, your searches, or the pages you visit. While Brave still gives you the option to clear browsing history on your device, there’s no worry about Brave keeping a history of what you searched or browsed. Unlike Google or Microsoft, Brave doesn’t collect your data in the first place.

Brave blocks the bad stuff online; by using Brave, you block Big Tech from profiting off your data.

Get started with Brave!

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