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How to clear your browsing history including your cache

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  • When accessing a website that contains private personal information (your online bank account, Atlas, web mail) from a shared or public computer
  • To avoid leaving an electronic paper trail in your browser
  • To avoid storing private personal information on your MIT work station


  1. Clear the cache in your browser. Just clearing your browser cache will delete any temporary internet files stored on your computer, such as graphics and other web page content, that help to load your web pages faster upon subsequent visits. This option will not clear your browser's history.
  2. Clear your browsing history (recommended - steps listed below). This will delete more than just your cache. It will also delete the list of sites you've recently visited, your download history, your form and search bar history, and cookies (such as site preferences and log in status information as well as passwords).

Firefox - any version (Macintosh, Windows, Linux)

Follow the steps below or see the Mozilla article: Clear Recent History.

  1. Method 1: Follow the menu path: Firefox >> History >> Clear Recent History. If you don't have a Firefox button on the top left corner, follow Tools >> Clear Recent History.
  2. Method 2: Use quick keys Control+Shift+Delete (PC) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac).
  3. Change the value for Time range to clear to: Everything, if you want ALL browsing history deleted. Or select a time range. Suggestion: If you only visited private information in the past few hours, you can just delete a past few hours' worth of browsing history.

  4. Click the triangle next to Details.
    Result: Additional options are displayed. Check the boxes for all options. Click Clear Now.

  5. How to clear your browser's cache AUTOMATICALLY each time you close your browser: Follow the menu path: Tools >> Options >> Privacy (PC) or Firefox >> Preferences >> Privacy (Mac). Check the box for Clear history when Firefox closes.

Internet Explorer 8 and later (Windows)

  1. Follow the menu path: Safety >> Delete Browsing History (IE 8)

    or Menu >> Safety >> Delete Browsing History (IE 9)

  2. In the Delete Browsing History box, you have an option of only clearing certain elements or clearing everything. Select Temporary Internet Files just to clear the cache. When done selecting, click the Delete button at the bottom. If you opt to delete everything, you may receive a pop up asking if you are sure you want to delete all Internet Explorer browsing history. Click Yes.

  3. How to clear your browser's cache AUTOMATICALLY each time you close your browser: Follow the menu path: Tools >> Internet Options. On the Advanced tab, check the box Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.

Safari - any version (Windows & Macintosh)

  1. Follow the menu path: History >> Clear History...
  2. The dialog box will ask "Are you sure you want to clear history?". Click Clear

Google Chrome - any version (Windows & Macintosh)

  1. Follow the menu path: History >> Show Full History (Command+Y) for Mac or History (Ctrl+H) under the main menu for PC. When the History tab opens, select Clear all browsing data.
  2. The dialog box will ask you to "Obliterate the following items". Select a period of time from the drop menu.
  3. Select Clear browsing history and Empty the cache. Or select all options to clear all browsing data.

  4. Press Clear browsing data.

Microsoft Edge - any version

  1. On the top right of the Microsoft Edge Window, press the ellipse menus "..." and press "Settings"
  2. On the left side of the menu, select "Privacy & Security.
  3. From the Privacy & Security window, select "Choose what to clear" under the Clear browsing data section.
  4. After selecting the items you want to clear (IS&T recommends clearing Browsing history, Cookies, and Cached data and files) press the Clear button to delete the selected items.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 02, 2020

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  1. Nov 13, 2013

    I would like to see an item at the end of the Chrome and Safari for configuring to limit the data saved.

    i.e. for Chrome, something like

    To limit the history saved by Chrome, go to Settings / Show Advanced Settings and make the following configuration changes:

    * Privacy / Content settings - Check Keep local data only until I quit my browser, and Block third-party cookies

    * Password and Forms - uncheck Autofill and Save password settings

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