Congratulations! By reading this article, you’ve officially added one more website to your browsing history. And in the likely case you got here using Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or some other search engine, then you’ve added one more item to your search history as well. That means the information on this page is extremely applicable, as everyone should make it a habit to clear their browsing and search histories routinely.
How, you ask? We’ll get to that. But first, we’ll explain why you should regularly clear your browsing and search history.
Or you can jump ahead now to…
How to clear your browsing history in:
How to delete your search history in:
How to clear your search and browser history on mobile devices:
How to delete your YouTube search and watch history on:
Why clear my browsing and search history?
Storing your browsing history for really long periods of time can take up memory on your device, and in some extreme cases even slow it down a bit. But if you ever intend on sharing your device with anyone, clearing your web history is an obvious first step in keeping your activity private. We’ve all been to websites we’re not exactly proud of, and auto-fill is certainly not your friend in these cases.
Cleaning your browser makes it safer as it prevents against history sniffing, which can put your private personal info at risk. Plus, cleaning up other temporary files that you no longer need can propel your PC to much faster speeds.
And why bother clearing your search history? All the big search providers, such as Google and Bing, save what you search for, which by itself is a troubling privacy issue when you consider they sell that data to advertisers, and can use it to change things like the ads you see or the price of stuff online. But when you also consider how often these services are hacked, it means you’re one data breach away from criminals knowing what you’ve been searching for. The issues with that should be pretty obvious.
A word on cache and cookies
It’s important to note that there are some pretty big differences between a browser’s history, cache, and cookies, although they are irrevocably linked — and will often show up in the process of cleaning out your history.
The cache, for example, saves elements that certain websites need to run, so in case you ever visit those websites again, they can load faster.
Cookies, on the other hand, are used by websites to track all kinds of things: what you do, what you’re authorized to see, and where you go next.
While it’s beyond the scope of this article, it’s very important to clear browser cookies and clean the cache too, from time to time. It’ll go a long way to keeping your browser running its best… and keeping yourself just that little bit more private.
There’s an even easier way to make sure your browsing and search history remains private and clear, if you don’t want to clean it out every couple of days. Every time you plan to do something online you wouldn’t want your mom to find out about, you should activate your browser's private/incognito mode.
Almost every browser has this mode, and when it’s activated, neither your browsing nor your search history for that session will be saved. It doesn’t make you invisible online, but if you use it right, you won’t need to beg your friends to destroy your hard drive on your deathbed before your parents get the chance to explore it.
How to clear your browsing history
Here’s the step-by-step process to delete browser history, no matter which browser you use. But there’s one thing you should note before you get started: in most of these cases, you’ll need to decide how much of your history you’d like to delete. How far back in time do you want to go?
The options vary across all browsers, but in general, you should pick the all time/everything option if you want to completely refresh your browser, or just the one/two hour option if you did something especially weird online and you’d rather forget you were involved.
But moving right along...
- First, open up Chrome.
- Click the three dots in the upper-right corner.
- Click History, then on the side menu, hit History again.
- A new tab should open up. Look to the left and find Clear browsing data.
- Another new tab will open, as well as a pop-up. Make sure the box next to Browsing history is checked, and designate how much of your history you want to delete.
- Click Clear data and you’re good to go.
- Obviously, start by opening up Firefox.
- In the menu bar, click History.
- Click Clear Recent History.
- Make sure Browsing & download history as well as Form & Search history are checked, and use the pull-down menu at the top to decide the length of time.
- Click Clear Now and you’re done!
Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge
- Open up Microsoft Edge.
- Click the three bars on the right side of the web address field.
- Click on History next to the clock-arrow icon.
- Select Clear history at the top.
- Make sure the box for Browsing history is checked, then click Clear. You’re all set!
- Open up Opera.
- Click the clock on the far-left toolbar.
- For individual pages, just hover over the link and click the X button on the far right.
- To clear everything at once, click Clear browsing data.
- A new window should pop up. Make sure the box next to Browsing history is ticked, and set the time range.
- Click Clear data and you're done!
Is there any reason not to delete my browser history?
Well, there is one reason: if you’re one of those people who relies on auto-fill to take you to the sites you most frequent, you’ll find deleting your entire browser history to be a bit challenging. You can get around that by bookmarking those pages, of course — clearing your history won’t remove your bookmarks. So if you haven’t done that yet, now would be a great time to start. Otherwise, you can delete your history safely knowing that things like your stored passwords (which you shouldn’t be doing, by the way!) will be saved.
By the way, if you’re not sure exactly what to keep vs. delete, or if you just want to spruce up your PC a bit, might we suggest a neat little tool called AVG TuneUp? Our PC cleaner will remove redundant files and other junk you no longer need in order to boost performance and speed.
Clearing your search history
Now that you’re done with your browsers, it’s time to move on to your search history. While you no doubt deleted a lot of searches when you deleted your browser history, that was only on your PC. Clearing your search history for real means getting Google, Yahoo!, or Bing to forget what you searched for too (which you can wipe on all your devices at the same time, at least if you’re using the same account).
But bear in mind, this only works if you have a Google, Yahoo!, or Microsoft account, and if you’ve searched while logged in to those accounts. Otherwise, deleting your local history is about the best you can do.
- First, sign in to your Google account, then click on the box made up of little dots in the right corner and click Account.
- Look to the upper-left of the screen, find Privacy & personalization, and click Manage your data & personalization.
- Scroll down a bit until you see a box labeled Activity and timeline. Click My Activity.
- On the next screen, you’ll probably see a list of a lot of links and websites and the like. From here, you can remove any item by clicking the three dots next to each item and clicking delete. Or you can delete all the history from a particular day by clicking the little trash can icon.
- But doing that for your whole history would take a long time. So click on Delete activity by on the menu to the left.
- A popup will appear where you can decide how far back you want to delete your history. We suggest All time, or you can select a Custom range.
- On the next screen, click Delete to confirm that you want to erase your history.
- The next screen will confirm that your search history has successfully been deleted, and also offer you some more options for activity and history.
- The best way to adjust your settings is actually to go back to Data & personalization, find the Activity controls box again, and select Manage your activity controls.
- Inside Activity controls, find the toggle switch for Web & App Activity. Toggle the switch to off (so it becomes gray instead of blue). Now Google will stop saving your search history. You never have to do this again!
- Sign in to your Microsoft account, first of all.
- Click the three bars next to your login, and click Search history.
- You can’t actually delete your search history from here; you’ll have to click View and delete search history and go to a new site.
- You’ll need to log in again. Sorry.
- Once you do that, you’ll be taken to a new page. Click VIEW AND CLEAR SEARCH HISTORY.
- You’ll see just about everything Microsoft is tracking on you. Mess around if you want, but for our purposes, click on Search on the left menu.
- You can delete each item listed individually, or you can click the Clear activity button in the upper right.
- You’ll see a pop-up urging you not to delete your history. Ignore it and click Clear.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to ensure Microsoft doesn’t save your searches from this screen — you’ll have to keep using InPrivate windows in Edge to keep your searches secret.
Yahoo! deserves some credit for actually making this easy. Thanks for that, Yahoo!
- Login to Yahoo!
- From the Yahoo! search page, click the box in the upper-right corner, and click Settings.
- On the far left, click Search History.
- You’ll see a big ol’ list of everything you’ve searched for. Click the garbage bin next to each item you want to delete.
- If you want to delete them all, though, click Clear History, then Delete in the following pop-up.
- You can also click Turn History Off to ensure that Yahoo! won’t save your search history in the future.
Phones, tablets, and mobile devices
Good news! You’ve cleared your search and browser history on your PC and/or desktop. But unless you’ve got a dumb phone or you’ve only ever used your tablet as a paperweight, you probably have a browsing and search history on those devices too.
So strap back in, because we’re not done yet.
iPads and iPhones
Unless you’re using a third-party search engine, it’s impossible to clear your iPhone or iPad’s browsing and search history separately. It’s all lumped together.
- Launch the Safari app. Admire how good your fingernails look today.
- Tap the open book icon on the bottom toolbar.
- Then Tap the clock in the upper right.
- You’re at your history now. You can delete individual items from here with the X to the right of each link.
- Or, to clear everything (including the cookies) hit the Clear button at the bottom of the list.
- Select how far back you want to delete and you’re good to go.
Android Phones and Tablets
Deleting browsing history on Android devices is a lot like the process on PCs, meaning it changes depending on the browser you’re using. And since Search history is managed by Google, Firefox, and Microsoft, by clearing it on your browser, you’re effectively clearing it on your mobile devices too.
- Tap that app.
- Tap the three dots in the right corner.
- Tap History.
- You can delete individual items from this list with the X buttons next to each link.
- To do the whole shebang, click Clear browsing data at the top.
- Make sure Browsing history has a checkmark next to it. Designate how much history you want to delete with the drop-down menu to the right.
- Click Clear data and you’re done!
- Crack open the app.
- Tap those three dots in the right corner.
- Tap History.
- Here you’ll see a list of recently viewed websites. Tap Clear Browsing History at the bottom of the screen.
- A warning pop-up will appear. Tap OK.
- You’re rock-and-roll ready.
- As you might be able to guess, kick things off by opening the app.
- Find the O-menu button on the bottom right and tap it.
- Tap History, then tap the trash icon on the upper right. Confirm you want to clear your browsing history.
- That’s actually all. You’re done!
Clearing your Google Play search history
Yep, we’re cleaning everything. Your Google Store search is every bit as important as the other search engines, so while you’re here you might as well tidy it up too.
- Open up Google Play.
- To the left of the search bar, you’ll see three bars. Give em’ a tap.
- Tap the Settings options.
- Scroll down till you see Clear local search history. Give it a tap.
- Nothing will appear to happen, but don’t worry. You’re still clear.
- ...but we’re not done just yet.
- Go back to the menu and tap My apps & games.
- From the top menu, tap Library.
- Here you have a list of all the apps you’ve downloaded but aren’t currently on your device. You’ll also see a big X next to all of them. Tap as many as you’d like.
- Now you’re looking good.
Deleting your YouTube search and watch history
We’re almost done, guys. YouTube uses your search and watch history to determine what kind of videos you might be interested in. That can be useful, but if you go on a weird 70s R&B kick and you find yourself with regrets, there’s an easy way to get the O’Jays out of your watch history.
But first, a few notes. First, if you watched any videos in your browser's incognito/hidden mode, they won’t be saved, so you don’t need to worry about deleting them. Second, if you deleted your Google search history in the way described earlier in the article, then you also had the option of deleting your YouTube watch and search history there, which means you can probably skip this part. You can also turn off Google’s ability to track your Youtube watching preferences the same way you can turn off their ability to track your web searches, by going to Privacy & personalization, Activity controls, and turning YouTube Search History and YouTube Watch History off.
But anyway. If you just want to delete your YouTube search and watch history…
On the YouTube website
- So you’ll want to log into your account first.
- Click the three bars in the corner, and go to History.
- Here, you’ll see a list of all the videos you’ve watched. You can delete individual videos by hovering over the title with your mouse and clicking the X button that will show up on the right.
- If you want to delete everything and start fresh, click Clear All Watch History on the left, then confirm a second time on the following pop-up.
- You have an option to pause your watch history from that menu too, if you don’t want to go all the way to your Google account to do it.
- You’ll also see the option to see your Search history on the left. Click that.
- It works exactly the same as Watch history did. You can delete individual items or everything at once from here.
- When you’ve sufficiently scrubbed your past clean, you’re done!
On the mobile website
- Alright, so, open up the website and make sure you’re logged in.
- In the upper menu, tap the person icon. That’s your account.
- Tap History, which should be at the very top of the list.
- You’ll see a list of all the videos you’ve watched. To delete individual videos, tap the three dots next to each one, then tap Remove from Watch history.
- If you want to delete everything, or just pause your watch history, tap the buttons on the top: Clear All Watch History or Pause Watch History, respectively. You’ll be prompted with a pop-up asking if you’re sure when you tap them. Confirm if you are.
- For search history, at the very top of the screen you’ll find a Search History tab. Tap it.
- It’ll work the exact same way as your Watch History.
- Do what must be done.
Clearing the YouTube App
By the way, you don’t have to do all three of these. Doing just one will clear your history across your account. Anyway…
- Open up the YouTube app. Make sure you’re logged in.
- Near the bottom of the screen you’ll see a folder labeled Library. Tap that.
- From there, tap History.
- From this screen, you can delete individual videos you’ve watched. Just tap the three dots next to each name and click Remove from Watch history.
- But if you want to delete everything, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner of the screen, then tap History controls.
- You’ll see a lot of options here. From here, you can Pause watch history and Pause search history with the tap of a finger (although a prompt will pop up asking if you’re sure).
- You can also Clear watch history and Clear search history as well, although YouTube will try to talk you out of it.
- Delete what must be deleted and you’re done for now.
Nothing like deleting your search and browsing history to feel refreshed! It’s like a brand-new start for a brand-new you… who said the internet never forgets?
So go ahead and make a brand-new mess out there. We’ll be ready to help you clean it up whenever you need another fresh start or two. In fact, if you’d like to skip all the trouble of manually deleting your search and browsing history, we can help with that too. AVG TuneUp is a powerful performance optimizer that will clear out junk to keep your devices running at their best. Plus, our Automatic Maintenance will keep your machine in tip-top shape, 24/7.