How To Clear Your Private Data In Google Chrome for Windows

01
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Open Your Google Chrome Browser

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome and is being kept for archive purposes only. Please visit our updated tutorial

There are many things that Internet users want to keep private, ranging from what sites they visit to what information they enter into online forms. The reasons for this can vary, and in many cases they may be for a personal motive, for security, or something else entirely. Regardless of what drives the need, it is nice to be able to clear your tracks, so to speak, when you are done browsing.

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

02
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The Tools Menu

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

Click on the Chrome "wrench" icon, located in the upper right hand corner of your browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, click on Options.

03
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Chrome Options

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

Chrome's Basics option page should now be displayed in a new tab or new window, depending on your default settings. Click on Under the Hood, located in the left menu pane.

04
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Under the Hood

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

Chrome's Under the Hood options should now be displayed. Locate the Privacy section, found at the top of the page. Within this section is a button labeled Clear browsing data.... Click on this button.

05
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Items to Clear (Part 1)

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

The Clear Browsing Data dialog should now be displayed. Each item that Google allows you to "obliterate" is accompanied by a checkbox. If you would like a specific item to be deleted, simply place a check mark next to its name.

It is imperative that you are aware of what each one of these choices means prior to doing anything here, or you may wind up erasing something important. The following list gives a clear explanation of each item shown.

  • Clear browsing history: Browsing history keeps a record of all websites that you have visited. You can view this record by choosing History from Chrome's tools (the "wrench") menu.
     
  • Clear download history: Chrome keeps a record of every file that you download through the browser.
     
  • Empty the cache: 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, etc. locally from the cache rather than from the Web server itself.
     

06
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Items to Clear (Part 2)

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

  • Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data: A cookie is a text file that is placed on your hard drive when you visit certain Web sites. Each cookie is used to tell a Web server when you return to its Web page. Cookies can be helpful in remembering certain settings that you have on a website.
     
  • Clear saved passwords: When entering a password on a Web page for something such as your email login, Chrome will usually ask if you would like for the password to be remembered. If you choose for the password to be remembered, it will be stored by the browser and then prepopulated the next time you visit that Web page.
     
  • Clear saved 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 typing the first letter or two your entire name becomes populated in the field. This is because Chrome has saved your name from entry in a previous form. Although this can be very convenient, it can also become an obvious privacy concern.

07
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Obliterate the Following Items From...

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

Located towards the top of Chrome's Clear Browsing Data dialog is a drop-down menu labeled Obliterate the following items from:. In the screenshot above, you will see that the following five options are given.

  • The past hour
  • The past day
  • The past week
  • The last 4 weeks
  • The beginning of time

By default, only data from the last hour will be cleared. However, you may choose to delete data from any of the other time periods given. The final choice, The beginning of time, will clear all of your private data no matter how far it dates back.

08
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Clear Browsing Data

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

Now that you understand what each item means on the Clear Browsing Data dialog, it is time to delete your data. First verify that the correct data elements are checked and that the correct time period is selected from the drop-down menu. Next, click on the button labeled Clear Browsing Data.

09
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Clearing...

(Photo © Scott Orgera).

This tutorial is for an outdated version of Google Chrome. Please visit our updated tutorial.

While your data is being deleted, a "Clearing" status icon will display. Once the process is complete, the Clear Browsing Data window will close and you will be returned to your Chrome browser window.