ios7 safari iconThis article explains how to use Safari's Private Browsing mode, which prevents your browsing history from being logged on your Apple devices. It's a useful feature if you're buying gifts online for friends or family, for instance, and you don't want anyone with access to your devices to find out what you're up to.

Of course, if you've already been browsing where you shouldn't have and didn't use Safari's dedicated privacy mode, don't worry – we'll also show you two different ways of deleting your existing browsing history. Keep reading to find out how.

Using Safari's Private Browsing Mode

Enabling Private Browsing limits Safari in three important ways: It prevents the browser from creating a history of the pages you visit, it stops AutoFill information like website usernames and passwords from being remembered, and any tabs you open won't be stored in iCloud.

Also, for added peace of mind when you browse privately, Safari automatically prevents cross-site tracking, and requests that sites and third-party content providers don't track you as a rule. Additionally, the privacy mode stops sites from modifying any information stored on your iOS device, and deletes cookies when you close the associated tab.

To enable Private Browsing in Safari, follow these steps.

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone or iPad, tap the Pages icon (consisting of two squares) to bring up the open tabs view, and then tap "Private". Notice how the interface turns a dark gray.
  2. Tap the "+" icon to open a private tab.
  3. When you're done browsing, return to the open tabs view, individually swipe any open tabs to close them, and then tap "Private" again. Your private browsing session is now cleared from memory.

private browsing 1

Clearing Existing Browsing History

When you clear your browsing history on a device running iOS 11 or higher, the same logs are cleared on any other devices signed into your iCloud account. The following methods also clear all cookies and web data on the device you're currently using, although AutoFill information remains unchanged.

Method 1

The first method outlined below allows you to either limit the clearing of history, cookies and website data to a specific timeframe, or to delete your existing web history altogether.

  1. Open Safari and with a tab open, tap the Bookmarks icon (the open book) located at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Tap the tab at the top of the screen with a clock symbol, and you'll see a history of your browsing activity.
  3. To remove instances of recorded visits to specific web pages, swipe leftwards across individual logs in the list and tap the red delete button that appears.
  4. To delete the entire browsing history list, tap "Clear" and select the option you prefer from the following: The last hour; Today; Today and yesterday; and All time.

selective delete web history 1

Method 2

The second method of wiping your browsing history might be considered the 'nuke' option, since it clears all history, cookies and website data on that device, regardless of when the sites were accessed.

  1. Open the Settings app and scroll down to Safari in the list.
  2. Tap the "Clear History and Website Data" option near the bottom of the menu. (Note that this setting might be grayed out if there's already no history to clear or if parental controls are set for websites.)
  3. Tap "Clear History and Data" in the popup overlay.

clear web history
And that's it. Note that these built-in Safari features only make you safer from discovery by other people in the same household.

If your privacy concerns extend to a desire for enhanced security and anonymity online, consider subscribing to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that offers an iOS client or supports OpenVPN (Private Internet Access and ProtonVPN are two popular options), and using a Tor-powered browser for iOS.

Tag: Safari

Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
40 months ago

This article explains how to use Safari's Private Browsing mode, which prevents your browsing history from being logged on your Apple devices. It's a useful feature if you're buying gifts online for friends or family, for instance, and you don't want anyone with access to your devices to find out what you're up to.
...yeah... yeah, that’s right... we use it for shopping...

In all seriousness, great article.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
testcard Avatar
40 months ago
“...buying gifts online for friends or family...”
That’s one euphemism I need to work into more conversations.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
puckhead193 Avatar
40 months ago
apple really should just change the name to what we really know what its used for already...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
testcard Avatar
40 months ago
I can really use this info, because I’m always “buying gifts”. ;) :cool:
Impressed that you can still manage to use a keyboard. ;)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hastings101 Avatar
40 months ago
Now no one will know I was using my iPhone to buy sex toys for my friends or family
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Braderunner Avatar
40 months ago
I can really use this info, because I’m always “buying gifts”. ;) :cool:
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...