Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I clear my search history 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.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

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.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

33 comments on “How do I clear my search history in Firefox?”

  1. 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?

    Reply
  2. “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.”

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
  4. 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?

    Reply
  5. 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

    Reply
  6. —–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—–

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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.

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. 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.

    Reply
  11. 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

    Reply
  12. 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
    Reply
  13. 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.

    Reply
  14. ~

    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!

    Reply
  15. 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

    Reply
  16. 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.

    Reply
  17. 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.

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

    Reply
  19. 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!

    Reply
  20. 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 http://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).

    Reply
  21. 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.

    Reply
  22. 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.

    Reply
  23. 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

    Reply
  24. @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.

    Reply
  25. 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.

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.