Much like freedom, privacy is a basic human right. While in real life, it is easier to maintain our public and personas separately, the same cannot be said about the big, bad world of the Internet. Right from the information we share on our social network profiles to our bank accounts, the sensitive details of our lives can fall into the wrong hands. For this reason, we have to be extremely careful about safeguarding our privacy, especially when using a public or shared computer. Fortunately, the new age operating systems, like Ubuntu, Windows and OS X, provide options to secure a person’s online browsing history.
Take the first step towards preserving your online privacy
Whether you do not want your significant other to find out what gift you ordered for him/her online or are trying to keep workplace snoops at bay, the first thing to do is to delete your browsing history. This is the basic step to ensure that the details of your online pursuits remain hidden. By clearing your browsing history, you can ensure that other users of the same computer are not able to access your Internet activity. The good news is that the current versions of all browsers allow you to erase your browser history.
How to hide browser history
Since every browser has different features, the steps to clear browsing history from each one of them may also differ. This article will discuss the process of deleting browsing records from three renowned web browsers, namely Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Safari.
As the built-in browser for Windows, Internet Explorer is available on every PC. If you want to hide the history of your online browsing and searches after using Internet Explorer, you need to follow these steps:
- Get started: Before getting into the details, it is important to clarify that the process described here is for Internet Explorer 9. Open your browser window and locate the cogwheel right below the upper left corner of the window. This cogwheel represents the “Tools” option. Alternatively, you can also access the “Tools” menu by using the Alt + X shortcut. Another way of opening “Tools” is to press Alt, which will open a list of options right below the tabs. Click on “Tools”.
- Click on “Safety”: Once you click on “Safety”, you will see a dropdown menu. Select “Delete Browsing History” (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + Del). If you are using the Alt route of going to “Tools”, you can select “Delete Browsing History” from there as well.
- Or open “Internet Options”: After selecting “Internet Options”, you will see the “Delete browsing history on exit” option. Check the box right next to it and select apply. For more options on what you want to delete from your Internet browser, click on the “Delete…” button and check boxes for all that you wish to remove from your browser before pressing “Delete”. To delete browsing history regularly, you can go to “Settings” and select how frequently you want Internet Explorer to clear its browsing history automatically.
- Keep future browsing private: If you do not want Internet Explorer to remember the sites you are going to visit, you can go to “Safety” and select “Inbrowser Browsing” (Ctrl + Shift + P). To make sure your information is not passed on to outside websites through cookies, you can go to “Internet Options”, select the “Privacy” tab and regulate the level of protection you want. You can choose default settings or even enter specific sites where you do not want your data to be shared.
A relatively new entrant in the realm of Internet browsers, Google Chrome has gradually become the browser of choice for users of a variety of operating systems. Here is what you need to do in order to delete your browsing history on Chrome:
- Get started: After opening a Chrome window, look on the upper right side and you will find an icon with three horizontal lines. This is the menu button for Chrome.
- Select “History”: Clicking on “History” will open a new tab listing down all the URLs you have visited. In case you want to clear out your entire browsing record, press the “Clear browsing data” button. If you want to remove only a select few links, check boxes for all the pages you want to delete and touch the “Remove selected items” tab.
- To maintain privacy for further browsing: Go to the Chrome menu and open a “New incognito window” (Ctrl + Shift + N). The browser window will appear a little different in the incognito mode, with a detective-shaped icon on the upper left corner of the window and the homepage informing you that you have gone incognito. Users of Chromebook can utilize “guest browsing” to keep their browsing history a secret. Items searched in incognito mode can still be seen on your office’s main server and by your Internet service provider. It will also not prevent you from being remembered by the websites you plan to visit.
- Disable tracking: To avoid traces of your searches being left behind on a webpage, you can choose the “Do Not Track” option. Simply click on the menu icon with three bars and select “Settings”. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the blue “Advance Settings” link. This will open further options, one of which is “Privacy”. Check the “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request…” box.
- Handle cookies: Touch the “Content Settings” tab and select how you want the cookies on Chrome to be managed. You can also select what content you want to see while using the browser.
Safari is arguably the most popular browser among users of Apple products. To make sure that your searches remain from being seen by anyone else, the following procedure will prove to be helpful:
- Get started: Upon opening your Safari window, you will find the browser menu options at the top. Select “History”.
- Get the cleanup process underway: When you select “History”, it will open a dropdown menu with several options to choose from. One of these options would be “Clear History”. Click on it and it will start cleaning. To check if your browsing records on Safari are completely deleted, you can go back to the dropdown menu on “History”. If the “Clear History” option is gray and cannot be clicked, your job is done.
- Stop websites from remembering you: The Apple browser has also introduced a useful feature called “Do Not Track”, which completely wipes out any data exchange between you and a webpage.
- For later browsing: Select “Edit” from the menu and click on “Private browsing”. By enabling “Private Browsing”, you can secure your future searches from being seen.