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Sometimes you just want to clear the things you've searched for from automatically appearing in the browser. These steps clear that information in Firefox.

I saw your article on clearing the search history in Internet Explorer 6. I use Firefox; how do I do the same thing?

Firefox is actually easier and a little more intuitive. While we're at it, we'll include the Google Toolbar extension to Firefox as well.

The Google Toolbar is pretty much the same as its IE equivalent. If you click on the Google logo on the far left you'll get a drop-down menu:

Google Toolbar Menu dropped down

Click on Clear Search History, and that's done.

Now, for Firefox itself (I'll assume Firefox 2.0, by the way) a quick click on the Tools menu shows this:

Clear Private Data menu item

"The Google Toolbar is pretty much the same as its IE equivalent."

Clear Private Data looks encouraging, but before you click on it, click on Options instead. Click on the Privacy tab, and you should see this:

Privacy tab of the Options dialog

Note the Private Data area, and the Settings... button to the right. Click on Settings... and you'll get a dialog that includes this:

Setting dialog for Clear Private Data options

Here you can control exactly what it is you want Firefox to clear when you tell it to "Clear Private Data". Most of what people seem to care about is their browsing history, but Saved Form Information is what you want if you're looking to erase the tracks of what you've been searching for using the Google home page.

So, make your selections as you wish, OK your way back out, and then go ahead and hit that Clear Private Data menu item on the Tools menu, and you should be good to go.

Remember: this has only dealt with Firefox. You may still need to return to IE and perform the equivalent there, since IE is used in many places throughout Windows, and some of its settings and/or history appear to be shared with some Windows features.

Article C2832 - November 7, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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34 Comments
Mary
November 7, 2006 7:33 PM

Why do all these different browsers have to make it so difficult? How hard would it be to have a "clear private data" icon on the toolbar so one click would take you to the clear private data dialog box? Instead, the programmers make you jump through hoops, to try to find some obscure tutorial, that usually doesn't tell you what you need, to do something as necessary as clearing search history. Are they just a bunch of sadistic people who deliberately wreak as much havoc as humanly possible on us mortals?

Daniel Ullman
November 8, 2006 1:51 PM

"How hard would it be to have a "clear private data" icon on the toolbar so one click would take you to the clear private data dialog box?"

Mainly because you would have lot more complaints from people who did not want to remove all their personal history but just some. By making the job a something you have to explictly do you can at least make sure that it wasn't a matter of "I thought I was removing history but I need those cookies back."

Mary
November 8, 2006 4:45 PM

Mr Ullman - That's why I specifically said, "...so one click would take you to the... dialog box", which is where people would decide what they wanted to remove. They'd see exactly what was scheduled to be removed and make changes accordingly. Seems that would be safer than clicking on Clear Private Data by mistake and not remembering (or knowing) what was selected for deletion.

Bob
January 30, 2007 12:05 PM

I am using Netscape browser version 8.0.3.4 (based on the FireFox Engine) and am unable to erase all previous searches in engines Google, Alta Vista, etc. I have followed all of your instructions from previous reader's questions on this topic to no avail. I can clear I.E. per your suggestions, just not the Netscape browser searches. Any other suggestions would be appreciated?

Hans Amstel
March 12, 2007 11:51 AM

In what folder is FireFox private data kept? Temporary Internet Files is in ie so there must be an equivalent folder in FireFox but i can't find it!
Cheers and Beers

Leo Notenboom
March 12, 2007 3:48 PM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

In firefox go to:

about:cache

and that'll tell you.

Leo
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)

iD8DBQFF9djBCMEe9B/8oqERAkagAJ94uY1Z0v7FpH6cdGoZk78jD+oGoQCgj72j
ZYk529/XHVSVaQYSbtpQN2c=
=I2cT
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Rossco
August 14, 2007 6:03 AM

in newer versions of firefox, you can clear the search bar i.e google/yahoo etc by right clicking on the search bar itself and choosing clear search history.

The clear private data option doesn't clear this search bars history.

kmc
January 19, 2008 6:38 AM

I just wanted to add that one does not need to delete the entire search history in Google. If there are only certain items that you want to delete, but others you'd like to keep:

Go to google search box, start to type in the word or phrase (do this both in Firefox and at Google.com)

Once a few letters have been typed, the drop down list from prior searches will appear.

Move your mouse over the item on the drop down list you want to Delete (DO NOT CLICK on the word or phrase, just hover mouse over to highlight it)

While word or phrase is highlighted, hit "Delete" button on keyboard.

That will remove the search word/phrase from the drop down menu, but leave remaining search history intact.

Amir Nathoo
February 22, 2008 8:18 AM

I wanted to draw your attention to WebMynd - a Firefox extension that records a visual history so that you can find stuff again.

We've included a privacy feature which automatically clears private data for you if you want to go into stealth mode. This is actually better than clearing private data yourself, since it only removes the information for the time you are in stealth mode - so you don't lose all your browser history and cookies for other times.

Would love your view on whether this is useful.

steven
July 11, 2008 5:35 AM

to erase search history you have to click "saved form and search history

Paul
September 20, 2008 3:14 PM

Its true. Clearing private data in Firefox 3 won't clear the history in the URL bar. To do this, do the following:

If you don't want RichResults
keep track of where you went, in Firefox you need to enter
about:config
and then scroll down to:
browser.urlbar.maxRichResults
and change the default. The default setting is 12 and if you want nothing, you enter 0.

Brad
December 12, 2008 12:25 AM

Thanks Paul, you were the only one here who knew what to do, as the options tools just do not work, thanks a million, this was doing my head in. :-)

Its true. Clearing private data in Firefox 3 won't clear the history in the URL bar. To do this, do the following:

If you don't want RichResults
keep track of where you went, in Firefox you need to enter
about:config
and then scroll down to:
browser.urlbar.maxRichResults
and change the default. The default setting is 12 and if you want nothing, you enter 0.
Posted by: Paul at September 20, 2008 3:14 PM

Lavinia
December 21, 2008 8:41 AM

Do you have a photo of what a hardrive looks like? I am getting rid of my puter and I want to remove it. Also, how do I get rid of firefox mozilla? I am not usin it and is taking space. Many thanks,

The Wikipedia article on hard drives has some photos.

Firefox uninstalls like any other application: go to control panel, add/remove programs, and look for FireFox in the list.
- Leo
22-Dec-2008

scott
January 6, 2009 11:31 AM

This about:config option doesn't really work either. True it suppresses the presentation of the information, but that information is still there. Anyone wanting to view those, need only pull the about:config back up and re-enter in 12. This is really poor of Mozilla not to have this fixed yet.

Bobby the K
January 8, 2009 3:21 PM

~

Thank You So Much Paul

I could not figure out at all how to clear the address bar in FireFox 3. It was driving me nuts!

Amazing how outdated information can get and/or why can't we get relavent information up sooner?


Thanks Again!

Steve
March 3, 2009 9:10 PM

In Firefox, if you want to delete an individual entry from the History,url just highlight it (either in the History sidebar or in the address bar drop-down) and press Shift+Delete. Gone

Freda
March 27, 2009 6:02 AM

download hide unvisited from firefox...it will clear the drop down box

freda
March 27, 2009 6:04 AM

Here is the URL for the add on

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/7429

Dan
April 21, 2009 8:12 AM

Freda,
WOW! Thank you so much for the URL for Firefox add-ons. I have tried everything to clear my search history, but this is the only one that worked. Thank you so much for sharing.

SMP
May 25, 2009 9:44 PM

STEVE - You're awesome! Such a simple technique to delete the address history and it makes me love Firefox even more! Thank you so much because nothing else works in the new version of Firefox.

LEO: Thank you so much for posting this article. Great information (although not so simple in the new version of Firefox) and great way to learn from others with the same issues.

SMP
May 25, 2009 9:48 PM

STEVE: Okay, sorry, I did it and it worked, however, everything came right back again. AAARRGHHHH!!! Why is Firefox being so difficult about this? :(

Lou
August 5, 2009 8:57 AM

On the newest version of Firefox there's a separate option called 'remember what I've searched for' that's also under the preferences-privacy option. Worked like a charm. Thanks Leo!

controlhistory
August 19, 2009 4:29 AM

Hi,
My company has created a product that could solve this problem. Our software, ControlHistory allows you to selectively or completely delete your history. You can download it from www.controlhistory.com. It supports
IE (ver. 6+)
Firefox (ver. 3+)
Chrome (ver. 1+)
Google Desktop Search
Many programs like MS Word, Excel, Acrobat Reader, WinRAR, 7-Zip, etc. that save their history in the Registry.

You can use the software for free to view your history but to be able to delete it you need a license. The cost of a license is USD 0.99 (99 cents).

Christian
September 13, 2009 10:00 PM

Thank you, Leo! Yours is the ONLY site that I found that clearly communicated the answer!

Dan
December 20, 2009 12:14 PM

Click&Clean 3.6.0.0 add-on for Firefox to clear browsing history + support external app (WiseDiskCleaner, Janitor, BleachBit) + clear browsing... when Firefox exits
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3100/

Click&Clean for Google Chrome
https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/ghgabhipcejejjmhhchfonmamedcbeod

lou
January 17, 2010 6:15 AM

This method is outdated.
Since firefox 3.5, right click in the search bar and select "Clear Search History".

Sunnydjim
March 11, 2010 12:49 PM

As an SEO (search engine optimisation) guy, the fewatures included within firefox have caused more than a little frustration, until your greatarticle.
As I used firefox as my only browser, when searching for websites and their google.com positions, firefox was throwing up glowing results as it was set to remember sites I had been on. Luckily, I soon spotted that and have now (thanks to your info) changed the settings and normal service has been resumed.
I am sure that the settings my firefox had were as downloaded direct from firefox and for that,I was briefly very annoyed.

S
May 10, 2010 1:38 PM

Then how do you clear when using a Mac and when you have firefox 3.5 and up?

Esther Lindquist
June 8, 2010 12:29 AM

I do not see tools at the top of the Mozilla Firefox bar

Jill
June 15, 2010 7:35 AM

How do you delete multiple history items, but not all? I know how to delete individual items, and how to delete the whole lot, but how do I delete all of them EXCEPT a few? I tried using the shift key to select multiple items, and it looked like I had, but when I pressed the delete key, only the top item was deleted.

Is there somewhere in Windows Explorer where I can see all the history files and be able to select them normally by clicking and dragging the mouse?

I'm using Firefox 3.5.9.

john
June 26, 2010 7:48 AM

i followed the instructions to clear the search bar history in firefox but,the drop-down menu does not show a google logo on the left of the desk top, i have tried clicking around but, nothing shows data or history/browser so i can't get any further,please help, regards, john

pundlik
March 22, 2012 10:50 PM

how i clear history in fire fox tools menu not found

Mark J
March 23, 2012 4:49 PM

@Pundlik
If you can't see your tools menu, it's because the tool menu is hidden. Click on the orange Firefox button at the top left of the page, choose History from the pull down, then select Clear recent history from the fly out menu. Form there check what you want to delete and click the Clear now button.

Fizzaali
August 4, 2012 11:59 PM

i am following your instruction but i didnot found to select some files of history of fire fox. it only delete all history or none.

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