- How to Clear Search History and Other Data Through Google Account Settings on Desktop
- How to Delete Search History, Browsing Data and Activity History From Your Microsoft Account
- How to Erase Search History and Browser Data from Your Computer
- How to Clear Search History and Other Browsing Data on Phones
Big data is growing bigger. Someone or a computer somewhere collects your information whenever you use your Internet-connected PC, smartphone, web browser, and other apps and services.
Most businesses rely on this data to understand their target audience, optimize their products, and create targeted ads. That’s why they spend so much to get it.
As it turns out, there’s no shortage of raw information to work with because Internet users now spend more than six hours a day online.
Most of the data theoretically does not include identity details. It typically consists of usage metrics and other harmless records.
But things start feeling creepy when you realize that Google can track – and remember – where you go all year round.
It’s understandable if you don’t want the company to know your whereabouts. You may also want to keep your browsing, search, and activity history private because they are sensitive.
Thankfully, Google, Microsoft, and other tech entities, especially web browsers, allow users to permanently clear their data.
We’ve compiled a thorough guide that shows you how to scrub Internet data from these platforms so that you can sleep better at night. You’ll also learn how to stop Google from keeping your information.
Also Read: How to Delete Temporary Internet Files?
How to Clear Search History and Other Data Through Google Account Settings on Desktop
Let’s start with Google, as the company is arguably the biggest global data collector.
Almost everyone on Earth has a Google account, whether it’s for AdSense, Android, Analytics, Docs, Drive, Gmail, YouTube, or any other Google service.
Most of the data you generate while using your Google account on these apps and different devices is stored in the cloud. That way, Google can personalize your experience and keep your devices synced.
They also use your data to refine and improve their search engine and ad algorithms.
While using the best VPNs can help you to evade privacy breaches, you still have to scrub the data on Google’s servers.
Thankfully, the process is not so difficult. You can even have your data cleared periodically without lifting a finger.
These steps will show you how to access your account’s data and clear it:
- If you’re using Chrome, click your profile icon in the top-right corner and select “Manage your Google Account.”
- If you’re using a different browser, log in to your Google account, click the Google Apps icon, and select Account.
- Go to the left navigation pane and click “Data & privacy” after your Google account page opens.
- Go to the right side and scroll through the page to the “History settings” section.
- Click the “My Activity” button.
- The activity page shows you a list of sites that you’ve visited and things you’ve done across different devices with your Google account. You can clear them individually or by date by pressing the “X” icon beside each item or date.
- You can use the “Delete” button to remove every item on the list. After clicking it, select “All Time” or “Custom range” in the “Delete Activity” pop-up.
- If you click “All Time,” Google will show you different products whose activity logs you can delete.
- Choosing the “Custom range” option allows you to set the time frame for which the data you want to remove will be deleted.
- If you do not want Google to continue keeping tabs on your activities, go to the “Web & App Activity,” “Location History,” and “YouTube History” activity pages and turn them off. You can also use each page to delete specific data if you do not want to get rid of everything.
Using the Auto-Delete Option
The Auto-Delete feature allows you to configure your account so that Google will automatically delete data after a specific period. You can choose between 3, 18, and 36 months.
This setting will work for every type of data collected on devices and Google apps associated with your account.
You must set separate Auto-Delete policies for each of “Web & App Activity,” “Location History,” and “YouTube History.”
Follow these steps:
- Open your Google Account management interface and select “Data & privacy.”
- Scroll down under the main screen and click “Web & App Activity” or any other activity category under “History settings.”
- Scroll down and click “Choose an Auto-Delete option” beside the trash can icon.
- Select the radio button for “Auto-delete activity older than” and choose your preferred number of months.
How to Delete Search History, Browsing Data and Activity History From Your Microsoft Account
People also rely on their Microsoft accounts to keep their devices and applications in sync. So, if you’re logged into Windows, Xbox, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Edge, and News Community with your Microsoft account, Microsoft saves and tracks your activity data and history.
The company also keeps and tracks your search history if you use Bing.
Like your Google accounts, you can manage and delete the data Microsoft collects whenever you like.
Deleting Activity History in Windows 10
You can start with Windows 10, as the OS saves your activity history, especially if you’re logged into your device. If you don’t want Microsoft to keep your data, you can go through the Settings app to clear your history.
Follow these steps to clear your activity history on Windows 10:
- Go to your keyboard, hold the Windows logo key, and tap the I button.
- After the Settings application appears, click the “Privacy” icon.
- Go to the left sidebar and select “Activity History.”
- Navigate to the bottom of the “Activity History” page and click the Clear button under “Clear activity history.”
- Click OK after the warning pops up.
- You can stop Windows from saving your history on your computer.
Clearing Your Activity History and Data Through Your Microsoft Account Privacy Dashboard
Your Privacy Dashboard allows you to manage the data you create while using different Microsoft platforms. This includes the Microsoft and third-party apps and services you’ve used on your Windows device, Bing search history, and Internet browsing history.
Follow these steps to get rid of your data:
- If you’re already logged into your Microsoft account in Windows 10 and Edge, go to the “Activity History” page in Settings, as we showed you earlier, and click “Manage my Microsoft account activity data” under “Clear activity history.”
- You can also open your browser and log into your account. Open Microsoft’s homepage and click the profile icon to log in.
- After you log in, open the website again, click the profile icon, and select “My Microsoft Account.”
- Click “Privacy” at the top of your account page. At this point, you may be required to set up the Microsoft Authenticator app on your mobile device to approve future logins. Follow the prompts to do that.
- Once you get into your “Privacy Dashboard,” scroll down to the “Manage your activity data” area.
- Here, you can expand different categories to view, download, or delete your data. After expanding a category, you can delete each item under the list by clicking the delete icon to its right. You can clear the entire list by clicking “Clear all activity.” For example, if you expand the “Search history” category, you’ll be selecting “Clear all search history.”
How to Erase Search History and Browser Data from Your Computer
Cleaning up your Google and Microsoft accounts does not mean you’ve cleared up your entire browsing data. Those services store your data on the cloud, while browsers store data on your device.
Let us show you how to delete your browsing data through the best browsers for desktop computers.
How to Clear Google Search History and Other Browsing Data Through Chrome
- Launch Google Chrome and click the three dots in the top-right corner of the browser next to the profile icon.
- Select Settings when the menu appears.
- Go to the left sidebar of the Settings screen and select “Privacy and security.”
- Switch to the right side and select “Clear browsing data.”
- When the “Clear browsing data” screen appears, use the “Time range” drop-down to choose how far back you want Chrome to delete your data.
- Select the type of browsing data you want to clear, whether it’s your browsing history, cookies, cached files and images, or other site data.
- You can head to the “Advanced” tab in the “Clear browsing data” dialog to see more options and filter the kind of data you want to get rid of.
- Click the “Clear data” button.
How to Clear Your Mozilla Firefox Browsing Data
Mozilla Firefox offers you more data management options. You can restrict some sites from using data and permit others for a defined period. You can also allow the browser to clear your data automatically.
- Launch Mozilla Firefox and click the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) next to the extensions icon in the top-right corner.
- Select Settings from the menu.
- Go to the left navigation pane and select “Privacy & Security.”
- Switch to the right side under the “Browser privacy” page and scroll to the “Cookies and Site Data” section.
- Click “Clear Data.”
- Now, select the type of data you want to clear and click “Clear data.”
You can also use Firefox’s advanced options to manage how the browser keeps and removes data as follows:
- The “Manage Data” button shows you which websites store cookies and data on your computer. The dialog also shows how many cookies each site has stored on your hard drive. You can remove every piece of data from specific websites by selecting a site (click once) and clicking the “Remove Selected” button. Click Save Changes to complete the process.
- The “Manage Exceptions” option allows you to specify websites that are allowed to use site data and cookies and those exempted from saving any kind of data. Follow these steps:
- Go to the “Address or website” text box and type the website’s exact address.
- Click Block if you want to prevent it from using cookies or site data, select “Allow for Session” if you want it to use site data and cookies until you close the browser, or click “Allow” if you want to grant it ongoing permission.
- It will show up under the “Website” column, and your choice will be right next to it under “Status.”
- You can select the site and click Remove whenever you want to change your option.
- Use the checkbox for the “Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed” option to prompt the browser to automatically delete your browsing data after you close the application.
How to Clear Your Microsoft Edge Browsing Data
- Start Microsoft Edge and click the three dots beside the profile icon.
- Select Settings in the menu that drops out.
- Go to the left pane and click “Privacy, search, and services.”
- Scroll to the “Clear browsing data” area and select “Choose what to clear.”
- Use the “Time range” menu to choose how far back you want your browsing data cleared.
- Select the kind of data you want to delete and click “Clear now.”
You can also prompt Microsoft Edge to automatically remove browsing data once you close it. Click the “Choose what you clear every time you close the browser” option under “Clear browsing data.”
Use the toggle switch to select which data to remove once you close the app.
How to Clear Your Browsing History in the Brave Browser
- Go to the top-right corner in Brave and click the three horizontal lines.
- Select “Settings” in the menu.
- Switch to the “Privacy and security” page in the left pane.
- Click “Clear browsing data” on the right side.
- Once the “Clear browsing data” dialog window appears, stay on the “Basic” tab and use the “Time Range” menu to specify the duration for which you wish to clear your browsing data.
- Choose the specific type of data you intend to remove and click “Clear Now.”
- You can switch to the Advanced tab to see more browsing data options to choose from. The exit tab allows you to specify the type of data you want to get rid of after closing the browser.
- You can also go to the “Cookies and other site data” page to set how you block and allow programs downloaded to your computer.
How to Clear Your Browsing History in Opera
- Launch Opera and click the “Settings” icon in the left sidebar.
- Select “Privacy & Security” when the “Settings” page appears.
- Click “Clear browsing data” under “Privacy and security.”
- Select the desired timeframe under the “Time range” menu for Opera to delete the browsing data you select under the Basic or Advanced tabs.
How to Clear Search History and Other Browsing Data on Phones
Smartphones and tablets also produce large volumes of browsing data. A 2019 study found that 72.6% of global Internet users will surf the web exclusively on mobile devices by 2025.
We might achieve that number sooner than you think. That’s because more than 60% (5 billion) of Internet users worldwide are using mobile devices to browse the web.
Continue reading if you want to learn how to clear search history on phones and rid your Android and iOS devices of intrusive programs.
Clearing Your Data on Android
There are different ways to clear your phone’s browsing data. You’ll find out how to delete your Google search history and other data associated with your Google account through your Android phone. You’ll also learn how to remove data from different web browsers.
Clearing Google Account Data through the Google App
- Open the PlayStore, tap your profile icon, and select “Manage your Google Account.”
- You can also open Gmail, tap your profile icon in the top-right corner, and select “Manage your Google Account.”
- Tap “Manage your data & privacy” or swipe to the “Data & privacy” tab.
- Scroll through the page to turn off different activity controls, including “Web & App Activity,” “Location History,” and “YouTube History.”
- You can also tap the “My Activity” button and tap the Delete button to get rid of data from different Google products at once.
- Open Google Chrome and tap the three dots in the top-right corner.
- Select Settings in the browser menu.
- Tap “Privacy and security” once the Settings screen appears.
- Select “Clear browsing data.
- Just like the desktop browser, there is a “Time range” drop-down menu that allows you to select the duration for Chrome to clear whichever data you choose under the “Basic” and “Advanced” tabs.
- Tap “Clear Data” after selecting your preferences.
- Launch Firefox and tap the three dots in the top corner.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll through the Settings screen until you get to the “Privacy and security” section.
- Select “Delete browsing data.”
- Now, pick the data you want to delete and tap the “Delete browsing data” button.
- You can also return to the Settings screen and turn on the “Delete browsing data on quit” option to allow the browser to delete your data whenever you close it.
The Samsung Internet browser is the default web browser for a significant percentage of Android users. It is also touted as one of the most powerful web browsers on Android.
These steps will show you how to clear its data:
- Open Samsung Internet.
- Tap the hamburger icon in the bottom-right corner and select “Settings.”
- Tap “Personal browsing data” after the “Internet settings” screen appears.
- Next, choose the “Delete browsing data” option.
- Now, select the data you want to remove and tap the “Delete data” button.
While Edge may not be the most popular browser on smartphones and tablets, it still has tens of millions of downloads on the Google PlayStore and the Apple Store.
Many Windows users who rely on Microsoft products to get work done are also switching to Edge to keep their data and devices synced.
Follow these steps to clear your data on the mobile browser:
- Launch Edge.
- Tap the three horizontal lines in the bottom-right corner and select “Settings.”
- Select “Privacy and security” on the Settings screen.
- Tap “Clear browsing data” under “Privacy and security.”
- You can also use the switch at the top of the browser to prompt Edge to clear your data after you quit the browser.
- Open your smartphone’s Opera browser and tap the profile icon.
- Tap the settings icon next to the power icon.
- Select “Privacy & security” after the Settings screen shows up.
- Scroll down and select “Clear data.” It is the last option on the screen.
- Choose the data you want to delete and tap the “Clear data” button at the bottom of the screen.
Clearing Browsing Data on iPhones and iPads
Clearing your iPad and iPhone browsing data is quite simple and straightforward. You can go through the Settings interface on your iPhone to clear your history and website data, and they will be cleared across every device connected to your iCloud account.
Follow these steps to go through Settings:
- Launch Settings.
- Scroll through the Settings interface and select Safari.
- After the Safari screen appears, scroll down till you get to the “Privacy & Security” section.
- Tap “Clear History and Website Data.”
- A dialog will pop up, warning you that “History will be cleared from devices signed into your iCloud account.”
- Tap “Clear History and Data” again.
How to clear search history on Safari:
- Launch the browser and tap the book icon in the toolbar located at the bottom of the screen.
- After the History window pops up, tap the clock icon and select Clear.
- Allow the browser to clear your history.
Clearing File Explorer Search History on Windows 10
If you have ever wondered how File Explorer shows you suggestions whenever you type into the search bar, it’s because Windows saves your search history.
You can delete this data if you do not want the operating system to keep it. Deleting your File Explorer search history may be important if you use the computer with others or want to give out your system for a while.
There are different ways to clear your File Explorer search history. You can go through File Explorer, Registry Editor, and Group Policy Editor.
Follow these steps to go through File Explorer:
- Launch File Explorer using the Win+E shortcut.
- After Explorer opens, right-click the address bar.
- Next, click “Delete History” in the menu that pops out.
- After that, go to the search bar, type a search text, and tap the Enter button.
- Once the search results show up, go to the “Search” tab (under “Search Tools”) in the ribbon menu, click “Recent searches,” and select “Clear search history.”
Go through the Folder Options dialog:
- Launch File Explorer.
- Go to the ribbon menu and click “File.”
- Select “Change folder and search options” in the menu.
- Once the “Folder Options” window appears, go to the “Privacy” section under the “General” tab.
- Now, click “Clear” next to the “Clear File Explorer history.”
- Select OK in the dialog.
Follow these steps to delete search history for File Explorer using Registry Editor:
Before you begin, please note that the Registry Editor is a highly sensitive area in Windows. The utility can change low-level system settings that can inflict significant damage if the wrong modifications are applied.
So, follow these steps with caution. To be on the safe side, you should ideally create a restore point and back up the registry.
Now, let’s start:
- Open the Start menu and type “registry.”
- Launch the Registry Editor from the results page.
- Once the app appears, drill down to the following key:
- When you select WordWheelQuery, the right side of the screen will show different numbered binary values. Each number represents a search item, with the highest number representing your most recent searches. You can select and delete the binary values to delete your search history.
Follow these steps to clear the search history using the Group Policy Editor (won’t work on Windows 10 Home):
- Type “group” in the Start menu and click “Edit group policy” in the search results.
- Go to the left navigation bar and head to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components
- Click File Explorer under Windows Components.
- Go to the right side of the screen, scroll through the policies under “Setting,” and double-click “Turn off display of recent searches in File Explorer search box.”
- After the policy’s dialog window pops up, select Enabled and click OK.
That is how to delete your browsing and Internet activity data from the major apps, platforms, and devices you use. It’s a good start to give you the required peace of mind to browse the Internet.
How to Erase All Traces of Internet History?
You can easily delete your Internet history through your web browsers and your Google and Microsoft accounts. You should see such options in the privacy section of your browser or account settings pages.
Why Should I Clear My Browsing and Search History?
You should clear your browsing and search history if you believe they are private and don’t want anyone to see them if you ever hand out any of your devices. You can also get rid of your history if you don’t feel comfortable about Google and Microsoft holding your data.
What Happens When You Delete Cookies?
Cache, cookies, and other website data are stored on your device to allow websites and your browser to remember specific details about your device and browsing preferences. Deleting them means removing those reminders. Sometimes, removing the cache and cookies saved on your device can resolve Internet connection problems.