Hide your internet usage

Browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox are designed to leave traces behind that indicate where you’ve been and what you’ve been looking at on the Internet. It’s hard to absolutely guarantee that your activity on the Internet can’t be traced at all.

Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the chances that your activities will be traced.

Go Incognito (or Private)

The easiest and simplest way to browse the web with fewer digital footprints is to open up an incognito window, as Chrome calls it. On Firefox and Safari it’s a “private” window, and on Edge it’s called InPrivate, for some reason. Using an incognito window means none of your browsing history gets saved in the browser’s logs.

Clear Browsing Data

It’s easy to retroactively get your browser to forget your basic browsing history.

In Safari on macOS, pick History then Clear History. The subsequent dialog box lets you wipe your browser’s memory for the past hour, the past day, the past two days, or from the beginning of time until now.

In Microsoft Edge, click the three dots up in the top right-hand corner of the browser interface, then choose History and Clear Browsing History. You can wipe away your browsing history and other browsing data for the past hour, the past day, the past week, or the past four weeks, or delete absolutely everything.

When it comes to Firefox, the option you need can be found by clicking on the three lines in the top right-hand corner, then Preferences. Click Privacy & Security, then Clear History; the time ranges are an hour, two hours, four hours, today, or all time. Firefox also offers the option of never keeping a log of your browsing history, irrespective of whether you’re using private mode.

On Chrome, open up the browser menu by clicking the three dots in the top right-hand corner, then choose Settings. Click Clear browsing data and you have the option to delete your browsing history as well as other data like cookies. The time range you can pick from goes from 24 hours to all time.

When it comes to Google and Chrome, we’re talking about something of a special case. If your web browser is connected to your Google account, your activities can be logged both by Chrome on the local machine and Google in the cloud. Head to this page in your Google account settings on the web to clear any activity data Google has stored—and to stop it from storing such data in the cloud in the future.