How to clear browsing history on Safari on iPhone or Mac

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You can remove your entire Safari browsing history, just yesterday's, or if you know exactly where to look, even one single item, too. Here's what you can do, where you can do it, and how.

As tracking goes, Safari keeping your browsing history is less about privacy-busting security and more about just being useful. It's your history that means Safari remembers where to go to when you choose forward and back within a site, for instance.

It's also how Safari is able to offer you a list of sites that you regularly go to, on account of how handy it is to be able to back to them with a click. History also does keep things you may not expect, though, such as a list of items you've downloaded.

If you don't want that, though, or you're just fed up of Safari going to site addresses you haven't looked at in years, you can wipe the whole browsing history.

On a Mac, you can also wipe, for instance, just the last hour's browsing history. So if you share Safari and it's someone's special birthday coming up, you can avoid them inadvertently finding out you plan to surprise them with dance lessons.

Go to History, Clear History, and then choose how far back you want your browsing cleared
Go to History, Clear History, and then choose how far back you want your browsing cleared

How to clear search history on Safari on Mac

  1. In Safari, choose the History menu
  2. Select Clear History from the very bottom of the menu
  3. In the dialog box that appears, choose from clearing the last hour, today, today and yesterday, or all history
  4. Click on Clear History

Alternatively, within Safari you can press Command-Y and the current page will be replaced by a history list. There's a Clear History... button toward the top right.

Clicking on that gives you exactly the same dialog about choosing how far back you want to clear your browsing history. But this page does also give you one extra option — the ability to delete one specific item.

How to clear one item from Safari search history on Mac

  1. In Safari, press Command-Y
  2. From the long list, click once on a history item to select it
  3. Right-click to bring up a menu, then choose Delete

Alternatively, if you select one, two, or more items in the history list, you can then press the Delete key to remove them all.

You can remove your takeaway habits from Safari, we're not judging you.
You can remove your takeaway habits from Safari, we're not judging you.

That kind of precision removal is only possible on your Mac, not on iOS. However, whether it's precision or wholesale clearing of your history, though, there is a way to replicate it on iOS.

If you have set iCloud to share your Safari history, then just doing this on your Mac also removes the history from your iPhone, and iPad.

Otherwise, you're stuck with going to your iOS device. And then with clearing the entire history.

How to clear search history on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings on your iOS device
  2. Tap on Safari
  3. Scroll down to Clear History and Website Data
  4. Tap that, then tap Clear History and Data to confirm

One important thing to note is that you can't selectively remove, say, today's browsing history on the iPhone or iPad. It's all or nothing, with iOS.

Clearing your Safari history is all or nothing on iOS
Clearing your Safari history is all or nothing on iOS

What you leave behind

Clearing your history like this does remove the list of sites and pages you've visited. It does mean you can't go back to that site you read last Tuesday, not without remembering what it was and going there yourself.

What it doesn't remove, though, is the information that gets used by something like AutoFill. If you have your address, for instance, and you're used to online forms being filled out with it, you've still got that feature.

You've also still got anything you downloaded. It's purely that Safari won't keep the list of downloads.

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