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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 101: Clear Your Web Browsing Tracks

Level Easy

Platform All (with Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox)

Cost Free

Your web browser saves a lot of information about where you go and what you do online while you’re surfing the Web. The sites you visit, copies of the images and text you view, cookies, and information you type into form fields (such as username and password or your mailing address and credit card number) are all saved to your computer’s hard drive and web browser cache for the sake of convenience so that those pages can load faster or your browser can suggest auto-filling the address of a site you visited before.

However, if you use a shared or public computer, you may not want the web browser to remember your website logins, history, or even your usernames. Maybe you don’t want your spouse to discover you ordered flowers for her at FTD.com when she types f into the address bar. Maybe you don’t want your roommate to know that you searched for “apartments for rent” on Google last night.

This hack explains how to sweep away your browsing tracks after you finish surfing the Web using history clearing tools and built-in private browsing features.

Go Private or Incognito

The newest releases of Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all have built-in private browsing features that automatically clear your history, cookies, temporary files, and other potentially sensitive data as soon as you end your browsing session. Here’s how they work:

Internet Explorer 8+

In Internet ...

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