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How to Automatically Clear Private Data When You Close Your Browser

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Web browsers normally save your private data – history, cookies, searches, downloads, and more – and only delete it when you ask. If you are constantly clearing it, you can have any browser automatically clear private data when you close it.

Note that, if you set your browser to automatically clear your cookies when you close it, you will have to log into the websites you use each time you open your browser. Clearing cache files will cause websites to load more slowly after you restart your browser.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome doesn’t include the ability to automatically clear all your private data when you close it. However, you can have Chrome automatically clear cookies on exit or use an extension to have it automatically clear everything.

To get started, open the Settings screen from Chrome’s menu.

chrome-open-settings

Click the Show advanced settings link at the bottom of the Settings page.

chrome-show-advanced-settings

Click the Content settings button under the Privacy header.

chrome-content-settings-button

Under Cookies, select “Keep local data only until I quit my browser” and click OK. When you close Chrome, it will now automatically clear your cookies.

chrome-automatically-clear-cookies

If you want to clear all your private data when you close Chrome, install the Click&Clean extension from the Chrome Web Store.

After installing it, click the Click&Clean button on your browser toolbar and select Options.

chrome-click&clean-extension

Enable the “Delete private data when Chrome closes” option under Extra. You can control which types of data will be automatically deleted using the options in this window.

automatically-clear-private-data-when-chrome-closes[4]

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox has the built-in ability to clear all your private data when you close it – no extensions required. To get started, open the Firefox menu and select Options.

firefox-options-in-menu

Select the Privacy icon and choose “Use custom settings for history.” Enable the “Clear history when Firefox closes” check box.

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To control which types of private data Firefox automatically clears, click the Settings button and choose the types of private date you don’t want.

firefox-settings-for-clearing-history

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has the built-in ability to clear its private data when you close it, too. Click the gear icon and select Internet options to get started.

internet-explorer-open-internet-options

On the General tab, enable the “Delete browsing history on exit” option.

internet-explorer-delete-browsing-history-on-exit

Click the Delete button to customize which types of data Internet Explorer will clear. You may want to uncheck “Preserve Favorites website data” or Internet Explorer will keep cookies and cache files for websites you have saved as favorites.

Click the Delete button when you are done. Internet Explorer will immediately clear your private data and then clear it each time you close your browser.

ie-delete-browsing-history

Opera

Opera doesn’t include a feature that can automatically delete all your private data when it closes. However, you can have Opera clear cookies and cache files automatically, as well as prevent Opera from saving your browsing history.

To get started, open the Opera menu, point to Settings, and select Preferences.

opera-preferences-in-menu

On the Advanced tab, select Cookies and enable the “Delete new cookies when exiting Opera” option. Opera will clear any new cookies each time you close it.

Note that this won’t clear any cookies you already have in Opera. To clear them, use Opera’s Delete Private Data tool or click the Manage Cookies button.

delete-new-cookies-when-exiting-opera

Select the History section and click “Empty on exit” to have Opera automatically clear its cache on close. You can also set the Addresses box to 0 to have Chrome never keep a history of websites you visit.

opera-automatically-clear-history

To clear all your private data in Opera, you will need to use the Delete Private Data feature manually or use private-browsing mode when accessing websites you don’t want appearing in your history.


Note that you will have to close your browser entirely to clear its private data. For example, if you have several Firefox windows open and only close one of them, Firefox won’t automatically clear all your private data. You will have to close every Firefox window first.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/17/13

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