Clearing your internet history

Internet history

When you visit websites, their addresses are stored in temporary folders on your computer’s hard drive. This information is put together into a log of your internet history so you can go back and review where you’ve been on the internet.

About cookies

A cookie is a small text file that is sent to your computer via your web browser when you visit some websites. These cookies are used to store information about you for the next time you visit that site – information like where you went on the site and what you did. The cookie remembers the computer you use rather than storing personal details about you, so if you used another computer to access the site, say from school, it would treat you as a new person.

Cookie files are a great way for a website to remember you when you next visit so they can automatically fill in information like your login when you return. However, if you want to surf the net without worrying that someone can see which sites you have visited on the computer you are using, you might want to delete this information.

How to cover your tracks

If people want to see which websites you’ve been to, all they need to do is look at either your internet history or the cookies saved onto your computer. To keep them from being able to do this, you will need to:

  • delete all cookies from the temporary internet files on your computer
  •  delete all the links in your history folder.

Deleting these files and links isn’t difficult. First of all, find out what internet browser you are using to access the internet. You can do this by looking at the top bar of the screen where the name of the browser should be displayed – Internet Explorer, Safari (used on Apple, Mac), Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are the most common.


Internet Explorer 6
When in Internet Explorer 6 go to the menu bar at the top of the page.

  1. Click on Tools.
  2. Go to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click on Internet options. This will open a box with the names of several different sections along the top. You will already be in the section called General, which is where you want to be.
  3. In the middle of this box is a section called Temporary Internet Files. Click on the button marked Delete files.
  4. When the box pops up, tick the Delete all offline content box and then click OK.
  5. When your computer finishes deleting your temporary internet files, you will be back in the General Internet Options box.
  6. Look at the section below called History. Here you can click on the Clear History button.
  7. A dialogue box will ask you if you want to delete all items in your history folder. Click Yes.
  8. Click OK to close the Internet Options box.</p></div></li>


Internet Explorer 7 and 8

  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options.
  2. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete button.
  3. Either select and delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords. or
  4. Select the Delete all button at the bottom to clear everything.

Internet Explorer 9

  1. Click on the ‘gear’ icon in the top right hand corner and select Internet Options.
  2. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete button.
  3. Tick each box: Temporary Internet files, Cookies, History, Download History, form data, Passwords, InPrivate Filtering data.
  4. Un-tick the ‘Preserve Favourites website data’.
  5. Select Delete to clear everything.


Safari (often used on Apple)

Resetting Safari clears the history and cookies but also clears the downloads and removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries.To do this

  1. Go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen.
  2. Choose and click Reset Safari.



  1. Select Tools from the menu bar.
  2. Click on ‘Clear Recent History’.
  3. A pop up window will appear. Choose a time range to clear from the drop down list. For example, the ‘Last Four Hours’.
  4. Click on ‘Clear Now’.
  5. You can also select ‘Everything’. This will make sure nobody can see any websites you have ever visited on that computer.


Google Chrome

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click on the Spanner icon in the top right hand corner.
  3. Select ‘History’.
  4. Click on ‘Edit items…’
  5. Click on ‘Clear all browsing data…’
  6. A pop up window will appear. Tick all of the boxes. Use the drop down box to select when you want to clear the data from.
  7. Click ‘Clear browsing data’.


What is Private Browsing and how does it help?

Private browsing is when your browser (e.g. Firefox or Google) does not save any history, cookies or temporary files whilst the session is open.

It is good to use if you want to visit a site in private but don’t have the time, or often forget to delete your history afterwards. It covers your tracks whilst you browse instead of you having to delete everything afterwards.
Please remember, if you want to download any files or create bookmarks, make sure you clear your history as well, as these could be still saved.


How do I use Private Browsing?


  1. Before you visit the website, click on Tools in the menu bar.
  2. Select ‘Start Private Browsing’ from the list. You can also do this quickly by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P on your keyboard.

To stop Private Browsing, select Tools again and then ‘Stop Private Browsing’ or you can close Firefox. Pressing Ctrl + Shift + P will also stop it.

Google Chrome
In Google chrome private browsing is known as using incognito mode.

  1. Click the spanner icon on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select ‘New incognito window’ from the list or you can press Ctrl+Shift+N on your keyboard.
  3. A new window will open with a ‘secret agent’ icon in the corner. You can continue browsing as normal in this new window.
  4. Once you have finished your session, close the window and this will automatically erase any browsing information.<


Internet Explorer 8 and 9

  1. Click on the ‘gear’ icon on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select ‘Safety’ then click on ‘InPrivate Browsing’. You can also do this by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+P on your keyboard.
  3. A new window will open with an ‘InPrivate’ indicator. You can continue browsing as normal in this new window.
  4. Once you have finished your session, close the window and this will automatically delete any browsing information.


Internet Explorer 6 and 7

If you’re still using Internet Explorer 6 or 7, there isn’t a built-in tool for private browsing. However, you can search for a free add-on program which will help you keep your online activity hidden.


I am not sure which version of Internet Explorer I have, how do I find out?

In the menu bar, select ‘Help’ and then ‘About Internet Explorer’. This should show you what version you have.