Cover Your Tracks

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This page explains how to browse the Internet without leaving behind information about what sites you have visited such as this one.

This page was last updated September 17, 2015 by Adrian Duyzer.  Please report inaccuracies to adrian@factore.ca.

Warning: there is no way to completely obscure what sites you have visited online.  The information here will help you remove as much information as possible about the fact you have visited this website.  For total security, use a different computer (for instance at a library, internet cafe, workplace, or friend's house).

There are two main things you should consider about hiding your online activity.

First, you should start using a browser that supports private browsing.  Private browsing is available in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 10 and 11.  For instructions choose your browser type:

If you're not sure which browser you have, or you have a browser that is older and doesn't support a private browsing option, consider downloading Chrome and installing it, then using Chrome's Incognito Mode to browse privately.

Note that when you do Google searches, Google will often ask you to install Chrome to "browse the web faster".  This is a good excuse for why you installed Chrome in the first place, if you have to justify that decision.

Secondly, since you've visited this website, and because you may visit others that are similar, you should know how to remove the digital trail that is now present in your browser.

Doing so depends on what browser you are using and its version.  We can't provide information on how to do this for every single browser and version available, but we do provide basic information for the main ones, along with links that bring you to pages that have detailed explanations.

(Please note that sometimes the absence of information (such as a history of visited sites) can also lead to suspicions.  In particular, be careful about deleting such information as saved passwords, since it will be more noticeable by the next person who uses the computer.)

Internet Explorer 7

Click on the Tools menu item at the top right of the browser bar.  On the menu that appears, select Delete Browsing History.  Use the dialog that appears to delete your browsing history by pressing on the appropriate buttons.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Internet Explorer 8

Click on the Safety menu item at the top right of the browser bar.  On the menu that appears, select Delete Browsing History.  Use the dialog that appears to delete your browsing history by checking the boxes for the items you wish to delete and clicking the Delete button.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Internet Explorer 9

Click on the Safety menu item at the top right of the browser bar.  On the menu that appears, select Delete Browsing History.  Use the dialog that appears to delete your browsing history by checking the boxes for the items you wish to delete and clicking the Delete button.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Internet Explorer 10

Click on the "gear" icon at the top right of the browser window.  On the menu that appears, select Internet Options.  A window will appear on top of your browser window.  Ensure that the General tab is selected.  In the section labelled "Browsing history", click the Delete button.   Use the dialog that appears to delete your browsing history by checking the boxes for the items you wish to delete and clicking the Delete button.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Internet Explorer 11

In the Internet Explorer app:

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.  (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings.)  Tap or click Options, and under History, tap or click Select.  Select the Browsing History check box, and any other types of data or files you want to remove, and then tap or click Delete.

To delete your browsing history in the desktop:

In Internet Explorer for the desktop, click the Tools button, which looks like a "gear", point to Safety, and then click Delete browsing history. Select the types of data or files you want to remove from your PC, and then tap or click Delete

Chrome

On Windows:

Click the Chrome menu item on the browser toolbar, which looks like a stack of three bars on the right.  Hover over History and Recent Tabs.  In the menu that appears, select "History",  Click Clear browsing data. Check the boxes for the data you wish to delete. Select beginning of time at the top to clear your entire browsing history

On OS X:

Select History in the browser toolbar. Select Show Full History at the bottom of the drop down menu. Select Clear Browsing Data which will display a new menu. Ensure the boxes selected are the correct items to be deleted. Click Clear Browsing Data when finished.

Firefox

On Windows:

Click the menu button (which looks like a stack of three bars) , choose History, and then Clear Recent History. Select how much history you want to clear: Click the drop-down menu next to Time range to clear to choose how much of your history Firefox will clear. Next, click the arrow next to Details to select exactly what information will get cleared. Finally, click the Clear Now button. The window will close and the items you've selected will be cleared.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process for Firefox on Windows.

On OS X:

Click on Firefox in Firefox's menu, then choose Preferences.  Select the Privacy tab.  In the History section, click on the link that says "You may want to clear your recent history".  Choose the time range to clear, then click Clear Now.

Safari

Click on Safari in Safari's menu, then choose Clear History and Website Data.  Select the time period you wish to cleat (ie: the last hour, Today, all History etc...), then click Clear History.