How-To Geek

How to Automatically Clear Private Data When You Close Your Browser

00_lead_image_automatically_clearing_history

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. So doing this has downsides. It’s up to you whether those downsides are worth the privacy increase.

Note, too, that you can use private browsing in most of these browsers to prevent history, cookies, and other info from being stored.

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 Chrome menu and select “Settings”.

01_ch_selecting_settings

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

02_ch_clicking_show_advanced_settings

Click the “Content settings” button under the Privacy header.

03_ch_clicking_content_settings

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.

04_ch_keep_local_data_only_until_you_quit_your_browser

If you want to clear all your private data when you close Chrome—not just cookies—install the Click&Clean extension from the Chrome Web Store.

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

05_ch_clicking_options_for_click_and_clean

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

06_ch_selecting_delete_private_data_when_chrome_closes

You can also clear your browsing history manually whenever you want.

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 click “Options”.

07_ff_clicking_options

Click “Privacy” in the left pane.

08_ff_clicking_privacy

Under History, select “Use custom settings for history” from the “Firefox will” drop-down list.

09_ff_selecting_use_custom_settings_for_history

Then, check the “Clear history when Firefox closes” box.

10_ff_clicking_clear_history_when_ff_closes

To choose what you want Firefox to clear when you exit, click “Settings”.

11_ff_clicking_settings_for_clear_history_option

Check the boxes for the types of History and Data you want Firefox to clear on exit and click “OK”.

12_ff_settings_for_clearing_history

You can also clear your browsing history manually in Firefox whenever you want.

Internet Explorer

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

13_ie_selecting_internet_options

On the General tab, check the “Delete browsing history on exit” box. To select which types of data you want Internet Explorer to clear when you exit the browser, click “Delete”.

14_ie_clicking_delete

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

15_ie_delete_browsing_history_dialog

You are returned to the Internet Options dialog box so click “OK” to close it.

16_ie_closing_internet_options_dialog

You can also clear your browsing history manually in Internet Explorer whenever you want.

Microsoft Edge

Your browsing history in Microsoft Edge can also be cleared automatically when you exit the browser. However, you need to be running Windows 10 build 14267 or higher. You can check which build and version of Windows 10 you have.

Click the “More” button in the upper-right corner of the browser window.

17_ed_clicking_more_button

Select “Settings” from the menu pane.

18_ed_selecting_settings

Click “Choose what to clear” under Clear browsing data.

19_ed_clicking_choose_what_clear

Check the boxes for the items you want to clear when you exit Edge. Then, click the “Always clear this when I close the browser” slider button so it turns blue. To manually clear the selected types of browsing data, click “Clear”.

20_ed_always_clear_this_when_i_close_the_browser

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 automatically, as well as prevent Opera from saving your browsing history.

To clear cookies in Opera, go to the Opera Menu > Settings.

21_op_selecting_settings

Under Cookies, select “Keep local data only until I quit my browser”. When you close Opera, it will now automatically clear your cookies when you close the browser.

22_op_selecting_keep_local_data_only_until_you_quit_your_browser

To clear other browsing data manually in Opera, go to Opera Menu > Settings and click “Privacy & security”. In the Privacy section, click the “Clear browsing data” button. Select what you want to clear and the time frame for which you want to delete the browsing data.

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+.


Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 12/7/16

More Articles You Might Like