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Your browser history is a local collection of all your recently visited websites. Depending on your web browser's settings, this list can be exceptionally long and contain a lot of information about your web browsing habits and history. Since most major web browser developers care about user privacy, there is a function to clear your history on every major web browser. While inconvenient if you like maintaining your history, deleting your private information is an imperative first step in maintaining any sort of privacy when surfing the web on a public machine. Additionally, many web browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, provide an option to delete your browsing history on each exit. This is a good option to enable if you want to maintain privacy without consistently having to dig through your browser's menus to clear your private data.
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Click the "Tools" menu option, then the "Clear Recent History" option from the sub-menu. Choose the "Everything" option from the primary drop-down menu, then click the arrow on the left side of the dialog to expand the "Details" menu. Tick the check boxes next to the types of data you want to clear. The first option will let you delete just your history. Click the "Clear Now" button to erase the data. In the Mozilla Firefox "Settings" menu, you can enable an option under the "Privacy" tab that will clear your private data on each exit. Additionally, Mozilla Firefox's private browsing mode can be enabled and all cookies and history stored while browsing in that session will be deleted.
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Microsoft's Internet Explorer makes deleting your recent history just as easy. Click the "Safety" menu item, then click the "Delete Browsing History" option. Tick the check boxes next to the types of information you want to delete, then click the "Delete" button to clear the data. Optionally, you can enable the InPrivate browsing mode, that functions similar to Mozilla Firefox's private browsing mode, by clicking the "Tools" menu item, then clicking the "InPrivate Browsing" sub-menu item. The same mode can be enabled in Microsoft Windows 7 by right-clicking the Internet Explorer icon in your task bar and clicking the "InPrivate Browsing" option in the context menu.
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Click the wrench item in the top right corner of the Chrome menu, then click the "Preferences" sub-menu item. Click the "Under the Hood" tab, then the "Clear browsing data..." button. Tick the check box next to each type of data you want to delete, then select a time frame to delete from using the drop-down box at the bottom of the dialog. Click the "Clear browsing data" button to clear the selections. Like the previous two browsers, Chrome has its own private browsing mode called Incognito Mode. You can recognize that incognito mode is turned on by the stereotypical spy graphic in the upper-left corner of the window. Incognito mode can be turned on by selecting the "New Incognito Window" menu item from the wrench menu.
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Apple's Safari browser may be the easiest browser to delete your history in. Click the "History" button, then click "Delete History" in the menu. Optionally, you can enable automatic history clearing by clicking "Safari" then "Preferences" from the sub-menu. Click the "General" tab, then tick the check box next to the "Remove history items" option. Like the others web browsers, Safari also has a private browsing option that can be accessed from the main Safari menu. Simple click "Safari" then the "Private Browsing" option to enable.
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Apple: Clearing the history list - http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Safari/3.0/en/9360.html
Google: Delete your browsing history - http://www.google.com/support/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=95537
Microsoft: Clear the history of websites you've visited - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Clear-the-history-of-websites-youve-visited
Mozilla: Clearing private data - http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/clearing%20private%20data
Screenshots taken by the author.
Computer Privacy Tips: Deleting Your Browsing History
A collection of guides and tips related to maintaining your privacy when surfing the web. Find out about the trackers like cookies and how to use things like proxies and Tor to surf the web in anonymity and maintain your privacy.