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Maintaining Privacy in Google

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One of the most common questions I see about Google is “How do I clear my search history from the Google search box?” What’s everybody guilty of :) ? If you’re one of the many it seems that have search terms you’d prefer to hide from other users of your computer, this article is for you.

When you key into either the Google home page search box, the Google Toolbar search box or the Firefox Googlebar extension, the the search terms you keyed are stored unless disabled. Then, on subsequent uses of the search box, it suggests what it is you might want to search for by showing a drop down list filled with previously keyed search terms whose initial characters match what you are keying. For example, if you in the past searched for “hot pictures” (PG version) and your spouse, kids or boss sit down and start to key in “hot tamales,” the words “hot pictures” will be in the drop down box as a suggestion for them. If this situation doesn’t thrill you, you need to tell the browser, and Google Toolbar or Firefox Googlebar to cut it out!

Deleting search history from the Google home page search box

In Internet Explorer
The search history that displays in the search box on the Google homepage is stored by your browser, not by Google. You can clear the history or disable this feature entirely by following these steps:

1. Go to the “Tools” menu
2. Select “Internet Options”
3. Select the “Content” tab
4. Within the “Personal Information” area, select “AutoComplete”
* To clear the current history, click on “Clear Forms”
* To disable this feature entirely, uncheck the “Forms” box

You can also delete individual entries from your search history by using the Down arrow key to highlight a previous search and then pressing the Delete key.

In Firefox

As with Internet Explorer, you can also clear the search history or disable the feature in Firefox.

1. Go to the “Tools” menu
2. Select “Options”
3. Select the “Privacy” tab
4. Within the “Saved Form Information” area:
* To clear the current history, click on “Clear”
* To disable this feature entirely, uncheck the “Save information I enter in web page forms and the search bar”

Another way to very quickly clear the search history is to place your cursor in the search box, right click and select “clear search history.” This is faster for on-the-fly clearing.

Deleting search history from the Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer also retains the search history if you let it. Clearing the current search history or disabling the feature in the browser does not affect the Google Toolbar. You have to do it in the Toolbar separately.

To completely disable your Toolbar’s search history

1. Select the “Options” button on the Toolbar
2. Un-check the box next to “Drop-down search history”

To simply clear the current search history:

1. Click the Google logo to access the drop-down menu
2. Select the “Clear Search History” option

Deleting search history from the Googlebar Firefox extension

The Google Toolbar has not yet been written for Firefox, but there is an extension called Googlebar that provides a similar function. It also retains the search history. The difference is that it does not automatically place everything in a drop down list for the user to see. But, it is there to view with the click of a check mark at the right of the search box.

To completely disable Googlebar’s search history:

1. Click on the Googlebar logo at the left side of the bar
2. Select “Googlebar Options”
3. Select the Miscellaneous tab
4. In the “Save History” section, uncheck “Preserve the search history across browser sessions”

To simply clear the current search history:

1. Click the Googlebar logo
2. Select the “Clear Search History” option

While You’re At It

This isn’t really related to the search boxes, but if you are using Google Desktop Search and you are interested in keeping things on your computer private, we have a must-read article in our archives entitled, “Keeping Private Matters Private in Google Desktop Search.”

Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

Visit Google Tutor & Advisor

Maintaining Privacy in Google
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  • http://www.google.com/notebook/public/17335248139538896058/BDQcKQgoQm5nU0qMj Johnston

    thanks very much sir, you have resolved my big issue

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