Anyone who has used their computer to do extensive web browsing knows that the data collected by your computer during those web browsing sessions is immense. If you’ve ever performed a system cleanup, you’ve most likely noticed that the browser data usually takes up the most storage space. If hard drive space is at a premium, or if you just want to avoid teen years worth of embarrassing keywords piling up in your web browser folder, then you can configure the browser to do a cleanup every time you shut it down. In this article, I’m going to show you how to do that with Google Chrome. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this task using browser extensions as well as built-in Chrome options.
Delete History Automatically in Google Chrome
There were formerly a large number of extensions that handled deleting your Chrome history automatically. Chrome is an easy browsing platform to develop extensions on, but the platform is also still relatively young and subject to rather sweeping architectural modifications. One such modification wiped out a lot of the extensions that used to inhabit this particular corner of the Chrome ecosystem. Essentially, a change was made that required extensions that did things after Chrome was closed to be configured to run in the background, meaning that the extensions were running all the time. This made many of these extensions power hogs in a major way, and many extension developers chose to just let their extensions lapse rather than re-architect them.
Two notable extensions persevered and are now the main extensions that fulfill this need. They are Auto History Wipe and History AutoDelete. Both of them work, although they have different design philosophies and it’s likely that one or the other will suit you better.
History Autodelete follows a model of allowing the user to define the domain names that should be autocleansed. Not many reading this article may understand why you would want certain domain names to be autocleansed, but rest-assured, there are some valid and legitimate reasons for this.
This extension gives you the ability to not only delete upon exit, but offers a few other features as well. You can set it up to delete your history after a certain number of days, say you want to keep everything over the weekend but want your browser history gone by Monday. Set up the extension to delete anything older than 3 days and you’re all set.
Auto History Wipe
Auto History Wipe behaves just as one would expect from an app with its name. It can also be configured to delete other browsing data types such as cookies, cache, etc. One potential problem – if your current Chrome environment has you syncing data across multiple computers, then Auto History Wipe may not function correctly. This extension wipes your Chrome when you close as has no other features, so if you want one with no bells and whistles to confuse you, well, there are none.
How Else to Delete Your History Manually and Quickly, Then?
The Old-Fashioned Way
Chrome’s default way isn’t all that bad, actually. It’s just the execution speed that’s the issue. However, did you know that it can help you clean other browser data as well? Here’s how:
- Inside Google Chrome, click on the three dots located in the top-right corner, then go to History and click History in the adjacent drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can just press Ctrl + H (Cmd + H on Mac) to quickly access the History menu.
Note: Don’t worry History always opens in a new tab. It only swaps out a blank tab, so whatever you’re doing, it won’t bother you.
- In your history tab, there’s a “Clear browsing data” button to the left. Click on it. You’ll be taken to the Settings menu and a “Clear browsing data” window will appear on top of it.
- If you’re content with deleting just the browsing history, cookies and cached files, stick to the “Basic” tab; if you’re looking to delete additional site data, such as autofill forms and passwords, take a look at the “Advanced” tab.
- Use the “Time range” menu and see how much of your browsing data you would like deleted.
- When you’re finished, click on the “Clear data” button.
Deleting Cookies on Program Exit
Some people think that internet cookies are even worse than any other part of browsing data. In a nutshell, internet cookies are small pieces of data kept by your web browser for purposes such as marketing and keeping track of your browsing history.
Despite them being useful for the latter, the former makes them annoying and may make your device more vulnerable, so you might want to delete them anyway. If you think it’s worth sacrificing website load and login speeds for the sake of security, follow these steps to delete them each time you close Chrome:
- In Google Chrome, click on the three dots in the top-right corner.
- In the menu that appears, select “Settings.”
- Scroll all the way down and click the “Advanced” button.
- Find the “Privacy and security” section and click on “Site Settings.”
- Click on “Cookies.”
- If the “Keep local data only until you quit your browser” option is disabled, as it should be by default, enable it.
Note: If there are sites you visit frequently, consider whitelisting them by adding them to the “Allow” list.
Before you proceed to enabling browsing history (if it happens to work for you, that is) or cookie deletion every time you close Google Chrome, remember that there are both pros and cons to such extensions. It’s up to you to decide. One other tip – if it’s just one site’s contribution to your browser history that you’d like to whitewash from history, Chrome does have techniques for taking care of just one web site at a time.
You can browse all your websites in style with this fully-specced Lenovo Chromebook.
Do you regularly clear your browsing data? Do you think keeping it is bad? Give others some advice they won’t be able to clear from their brain’s history in the comments below!