How to Clear Your Private Data in Google Chrome for Windows

There are many things that internet users want to keep private, ranging from the sites they visit to the information they enter into online forms. With increased concerns over privacy and security, it is nice to be able to clear your tracks, so to speak, when you are done browsing.

Google Chrome for Windows makes this easy, allowing you to clear the private data of your choosing in a few easy steps.

A open digital lock on a black background

Types of History and Data You Can Delete

It is imperative that you are aware of what each one of the browsing and data categories means before clearing it, or you may wind up erasing something important. Review each item for a full understanding before clearing your data. 

  • Browsing history: Browsing history keeps a record of all websites that you have visited. You can view this record by choosing History > History from Chrome's More icon in the top right corner. It resembles three vertically aligned dots.
  • Download history: Chrome keeps a record of every file that you download through the browser.
  • Cached images and files: Chrome uses its cache to store images, pages, and URLs of recently visited web pages. By using the cache, the browser can load these pages much faster on subsequent visits to the site by loading the images locally from the cache rather than from the web server itself.
  • Cookies and other site data: A cookie is a text file that is placed on your hard drive when you visit certain websites. Each cookie is used to notify a web server when you return to its web page. Cookies are helpful in remembering certain settings that you have on a website.
  • Passwords: When entering a password on a web page for something such as your email login, Chrome usually asks if you would like for the password to be remembered. If you choose for the password to be remembered, it is stored by the browser and then populated the next time you visit that web page.
  • Autofill form data: Any time you enter information into a form on a website, Chrome may store some of that data. For example, you may have noticed when filling out your name in a form that after you type the first letter or two, your entire name populates the field. This is because Chrome has saved your name from an entry in a previous form. Although this can be convenient, it can also be an obvious privacy concern.

Clearing Your Browsing History

You can opt to delete some or all of your browsing history if you don't want a record saved in Chrome on your computer. Here's how:

  1. Open your Chrome browser.

  2. Select the More icon in the top right corner. 

    Chrome main menu
  3. Choose History in the menu and History again.

    Chrome menu history
  4. Choose Clear browsing data in the left panel of the Search History screen.

    Google Chrome history
  5. Place a check next to Browsing history. You can deselect the cache and cookies if you don't want to lose those too.

    Chrome clear history options
  6. Select how much history you want to delete in the drop-down menu. To delete everything, select All time.

    Chrome clear history select time range
  7. Press Clear Data.

Other types of data can be selected on this screen. In addition to Browsing history, the Basic tab includes Cookies and other site data, and Cached images and files. If you select the Advanced tab, you can also check Download HistoryPasswordsAutofill form data, and other less common choices.

Clearing Only Selected Sites From History

If you don't want to clear all your browsing history, you can remove a single site or a selected group of sites from the history. To do this:

  1. In Chrome, select History > History from the More menu.

  2. Place a check in front of each site you want to clear, and choose Delete at the top of the screen.

    Chrome delete site from history
  3. To remove a single entry, select the More icon next to the entry, and choose Remove from history.

    Chrome remove single entry from history