Tech Safety: How to Clear Your Web Browser History


By now, it seems safe to assume that most people know what the internet is and even use it on a frequent basis. In many cases the internet has already become a major part of how people perform their jobs, keep in touch with friends and loved ones, or simply spend their free time. The internet can be quite handy for things like conducting research, managing a business, and meeting new people, but the convenience it affords us can sadly also be exploited.

More tech-savvy domestic abusers will happily utilize the internet to maintain their sense of power and control, and one of the main ways they can do this is by monitoring or keeping tabs on their partners’ activities through their web browser history. Whenever you visit a website, your web browser stores the visit in its “history” of visited sites, and if an abuser knows where to look, they can access a list of all the sites you’ve visited, potentially putting you in danger.

Thankfully, there are ways to clear or delete your web browsing history so that an abuser (or anyone else you don’t want keeping tabs on you) can’t see which sites you’ve visited. In this blog post, we’ll cover what a web browser is and the potential benefits and risks of clearing your browser history before moving into how to delete your browser history in specific web browsers (like Google Chrome or Safari).


What Is a Web Browser?

A web browser is basically a digital portal through which a user accesses the internet. Whenever you use a program where you need to enter in a web address to access a website (like, you’re using a web browser. There’s a surprisingly high number of different web browsers out in the wild, but some of the most popular include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

The Potential Benefits and Risks of Deleting Your Web Browser History

Deleting your browser history can be helpful if you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • You suspect your partner is tracking your online activity, perhaps because they somehow know specific details you never told them yourself or they somehow knew you’d be at an event you signed up for online
  • You’re planning to leave your abusive partner and you’re using the internet to coordinate your escape plan (looking up information, communicating with friends/family, purchasing supplies, making hotel reservations, etc.)
  • You’ve escaped an abusive situation but you’re worried your abuser has installed something on your phone or laptop which allows them to monitor your activity remotely

It’s important to note that deleting your web browser history also carries with it certain risks. If you weren’t deleting your browser history before, your abuser might become suspicious if they notice your browsing history is suddenly empty. An alternative option might be to start using ‘Incognito Mode’ where you can stop your web browser from tracking the sites you visit without having to delete your history (we cover how to enable Incognito Mode in our general tech safety tips blog post).


Clearing Your History in Specific Browsers

Once you’ve determined the type of web browser you use, feel free to jump ahead to the relevant section. If you use a lesser-known browser not featured on this list, a quick Google search can help you figure out how to clear your browsing history. The browsers covered in this blog post include:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari (usually only found on Apple/Mac devices)
  • Microsoft Edge (usually only found on Windows devices)
Google Chrome Icon

How to Clear Your Browser History in Google Chrome

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers and is available on both Windows and Mac computers as well as both iOS and Android mobile devices. To delete your browser history if you’re using Google Chrome on a desktop or laptop computer, open the browser up, click the three vertical dots up in the top right corner, select “More Tools,” then the “History” icon to bring up your history in a new tab (you can also press the Ctrl and H keys on your keyboard to bring up the History tab).

Other keyboard shortcuts you can use to access your web browser’s history include the following (these should work for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge):

  • Ctrl + Shift + Delete keys
  • Ctrl + Shift + T keys

Once you’ve reached the History tab in Google Chrome, you should see a ‘Clear Browsing Data’ option on the left side of the screen. Clicking it will bring up a pop-up menu where you’ll see a series of checkable boxes and a time range for how far back in your browser’s history you want to delete.

If you want to just delete everything, you can select “the beginning of time” or “All Time” in the time range menu (though choosing a shorter timeframe might be better if you don’t want to arouse your partner’s suspicion). Make sure to also uncheck all of the other boxes but to keep the top ‘Browsing History’ box checked. Once you’re ready, click the ‘Clear Data’ button and you’re all set.

You can follow a similar process if you use the Google Chrome app on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Just look for the three dots, access the History tab, choose what you want to delete and the time range, and then click ‘Clear Data.’

Mozilla Firefox Icon

How to Clear Your Browser History in Mozilla Firefox

Much like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox is another “universal” web browser in that you can download and use it regardless of what device you have (computer, tablet, smartphone, Windows, Apple, Android, whatever). To clear your browsing history in Firefox, open the browser, click the three horizontal lines in the top right corner, navigate to the ‘History’ tab, and click the ‘Clear Recent History’ option. Again, similar to other browsers, you can choose the timeframe and which sites to delete, or just delete everything.

Safari Icon

How to Clear Your Browser History in Safari

Safari is the “default” browser (i.e. it usually comes pre-installed) for Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. If you have the Safari browser open on a Mac computer, you should see a ‘History’ tab at the top. Click it, scroll down to the ‘Clear History’ option, choose your timeframe, and then click the ‘Clear History’ button. Just note that this will also delete stuff like browser cookies and cached files, which basically means you’ll be logged out of any services or websites you’re signed into and will need to re-enter your passwords to log back in upon first visiting.

For mobile Apple devices, open the Settings app, scroll down to the Safari entry, click it, scroll down to the Advanced tab, click through to the Website Data tab, and there you can either delete individual sites you’ve visited or just click the red ‘Remove All Website Data’ button to wipe it all.

Microsoft Edge Icon

How to Clear Your Browser History in Microsoft Edge

True to its name, Microsoft Edge is usually only found on Microsoft Windows devices, most often computers and laptops running the Windows operating system (though there’s also an Edge app for mobile devices). To clear your browsing history in Microsoft Edge, start by clicking the three horizontal dots in the top right corner, then click the History tab (also accessible by pressing the Ctrl and H keys), then clicking the small trash can icon at the top of the menu that comes up. This will open a separate ‘Clear browsing data’ tab where, as with the other browsers we’ve covered, you’ll get to determine what exactly is deleted and the specific timeframe. Make your selections, click the ‘Clear now’ button, and you’re good.

Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about technology abuse and how you can protect yourself in an increasingly technology-dependent world, be sure to consult the resources listed below. You can also call REACH’s free and confidential hotline at 800-899-4000.