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Staying Safe Online

Advice on Private Browsing and Clearing your Browsing History

Worried about someone knowing what web pages you have been looking at? There are things you can do to hide this activity.

Use your browser’s privacy mode – Find out how to do this for different browsers
If you select private browsing mode, the browser won’t store your online activity.

Delete browser history – Find out how to do this for different browsers
All browsers have a ‘history’ tab that list all the online pages visited. Each browser has a different way to clear the online history.

Use your browser’s privacy mode

Chrome

Chrome web browser logoIf you don’t want Google Chrome to remember your activity, you can browse the web privately in Incognito mode.

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More  New Incognito Window.
  3. A new window appears. In the top corner, check for the Incognito icon .

You can also use a keyboard shortcut to open an Incognito window:

  • Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS: Press Ctrl + Shift + n.
  • Mac: Press ⌘ + Shift + n.

You can switch between Incognito windows and regular Chrome windows. You’ll only browse in private when you’re using an Incognito window.

  • Chrome won’t save your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms.
  • Files you download and bookmarks you create will be kept.
  • Your activity isn’t hidden from websites you visit, your employer or school, or your internet service provider.

 

Firefox

Firefox web browser logoPrivate Browsing automatically erases your browsing information, such as passwords, cookies and history, leaving no trace after you end the session. Firefox also has Content Blocking, which prevents hidden trackers from collecting your data across multiple sites and slowing down your browsing.

There are two ways to open a new Private Window:

Open a new Private Window from the Firefox menu

  • Click the menu button and then click New Private Window.

New Private Window in Firefox

The Private Browsing home page will open in a new window.

Open a link in a new Private Window

  • Right-click on any link and choose Open Link in New Private Window from the context menu.
Tip: Private Browsing windows have a purple mask at the top.
Private Browsing

Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge

Edge web browser logoMicrosoft Edge shares the same name for its private browsing mode as the old Internet Explorer: InPrivate browsing.

When you use InPrivate tabs or windows, your browsing data (like your history, temporary internet files, and cookies) isn’t saved on your PC once you’re done.

In Microsoft Edge, select the Settings and More  icon, and then New InPrivate window.

Edge InPrivate browsing

Safari

Safari web browser logoIn the Safari app on your Mac, choose File > New Private Window, or switch to a Safari window that’s already using Private Browsing. A window that’s using Private Browsing has a dark Smart Search field with white text.

When you use a Private Browsing window:

  • Browsing initiated in one tab is isolated from browsing initiated in another tab, so websites you visit can’t track your browsing across multiple sessions.
  • Web pages you visit and your AutoFill information aren’t saved.
  • Your open web pages aren’t stored in iCloud, so they aren’t shown when you view all your open tabs from other devices.
  • Your recent searches aren’t included in the results list when you use the Smart Search field.
  • Items you download aren’t included in the downloads list. (The items do remain on your computer.)
  • If you use Handoff, Private Browsing windows are not passed to your iOS devices or other Mac computers.
  • Changes to your cookies or other website data aren’t saved.
  • Plug-ins that support Private Browsing stop storing cookies and other tracking information.

Websites can’t modify information stored on your device, so services normally available at such sites may work differently until you turn off Private Browsing.

Note: None of the above applies in other Safari windows you may have open that don’t use Private Browsing.

Delete browser history

ChromeChrome web browser logo

If you don’t want a record of webpages you’ve visited using Chrome, you can delete all or some of your browsing history. Deleting your browsing history will take effect on all devices where you’ve turned sync on in Chrome. 

Your history will be removed from Chrome. Separately, you can also delete your Google search history from your account.

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More.
  3. Click History and then History.
  4. On the left, click Clear browsing data. A box will appear.
  5. From the drop-down menu, select how much history you want to delete. To clear everything, select All time.
  6. Check the boxes for the info you want Chrome to clear, including “browsing history.” Learn more about the types of browsing data you can delete
  7. Click Clear data.

To delete your search history, learn about clearing activity saved in My Activity.

Firefox

Firefox web browser logo

  1. Click the Library button , click History and then click Clear Recent History….
  2. Select how much history you want to clear:
    • Click the drop-down menu next to Time range to clear to choose how much of your history Firefox will clear (the last hour, the last two hours, the last four hours, the last day or everything).
  3. Click the Clear Now button. The window will close and the items you’ve selected will be cleared from your history.

If you need to clear your history every time you use Firefox, you can set it to happen automatically on exit so you don’t forget.

Microsoft Internet Explorer and EdgeEdge web browser logo

  1. To view your browsing history, select Favorites > History.
  2. Select Clear history.
  3. Choose the types of data you want to remove from your PC, then select Clear.
  4. If you use Cortana and want to clear browsing history that’s stored in the cloud, select Change what Microsoft Edge knows about me in the cloud, then select Clear activity.

 

  1. In Internet Explorer, select the Tools button, point to Safety, and then select Delete browsing history.
  2. Choose the types of data or files you want to remove from your PC, and then select Delete.

Safari

Safari web browser logo

  1. In the Safari app on your Mac, choose History > Clear History, then click the pop-up menu.
  2. Choose how far back you want your browsing history cleared.
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