Warning icon
Russia has attacked Ukraine. Here’s what MacPaw and Setapp are doing to make sure our team members and infrastructure are safe.

How to delete recent items and search history?

4 min read
First, grab the tools
Before we start, let’s equip you with the tools you’ll need to solve the task. Install Setapp — it has all the apps mentioned below. And more!

Wherever you go online, your browsing history leaves a footprint. Every website records every page you visit, every link you click, and usually leaves a cookie so that it knows when you’ve come back. Here is how you clear recently viewed items on your Mac.

How to clear your history on a Mac?

Clearing recent items on a Mac isn’t too difficult, no matter what browser(s) you are using. It also speeds up your browsing experience and Mac’s performance when online. Only when you browse in private mode do you avoid leaving a trace of where you go online. Clearing your browsing history clear means anywhere you go online remains as it should be, private.

Depending on the browser you use, there are a few different ways to clear search history. You can also clear recently viewed documents and programs accessed through the top toolbar menu, and Terminal can be used to clear recent items. In this article, we will cover the various ways you can delete search history and other recent searches, including files, on a Mac.

We also know a simpler way, using the CleanMyMac Recent Items Lists tool, giving you the ability to clear recent searches and documents in only a few clicks. Starting with documents and recent apps used, here is how you clear searches and where you’ve been on a Mac.

Clear recent items on a Mac

To clear recently viewed or used items:

  1. Go to the Apple icon button in the top toolbar
  2. Click Recent Items > It shows a dropdown of documents and apps used recently
  3. Scroll to the bottom. Click > Clear Menu
  4. Click on the Apple icon > Recent Items to make sure everything is cleared.

Disable recent items using Terminal

How to completely disable document history on macOS? If you want to go one step further, you can use a Terminal command to hide or show recent items.

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities
  2. Launch Terminal
  3. Enter the following single line of text command to use Finder to uncover hidden file:
    defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE killall Finder
  4. To hide everything again, you can use the following command:
    defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE killall Finder

Another way to delete a recently opened file history, is to press CMD + SHIFT + to show or hide any files not immediately visible. Whichever way you uncover files, you can use this time to delete or clear anything that could be running in the background or taking up processing power.

Now let’s take a look at how we clear browser data and cookies in the most popular browsers on a Mac.

Delete searches and other activity in the browsers: Safari, Chrome, Firefox

Even if you use multiple browsers, you can find and delete searches and other activity in each one of them separately. There is also a way to remove all of the search history and cached files from all of your browsers at the same time with a tool like CleanMyMac X.

Simply install CleanMyMac and find the Privacy section under Protection menu. Instead of going over the manual option, select all of the browsers you need to clean up and hit Remove. Done!

#1: Manually clear Safari history

  1. Launch Safari
  2. Click History in the top menu
  3. History includes browser data, cookies and cache information
  4. Select “Remove All Website Data”
  5. You can select a time range. If you can’t remember when this was last done, simply select “All History”
  6. Click “Clear History,” and there you go: gone.

#2: Clear Chrome History

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click “Chrome” in the top toolbar
  3. Go to “Clear Browsing Data”
  4. Now it gives you three tick-box options for what to clear: Browsing history, Cookies, and Cached images and files
  5. Select the ones you want to clear and the timescale, e.g. “All Time.”
  6. And there you go: you've cleared your Chrome history.

#3: Delete Firefox History

  1. In Firefox, there are two ways to clear browser data
  2. Firstly, go to History in the top toolbar
  3. Click the second option down > Clear Recent History
  4. Next, locate Preferences (a cog icon in the top right-hand corner of a new browser tab)
  5. Click on Preferences
  6. Scroll to Cookies and Site Data
  7. Click “Clear Data.” Now everything should be erased.

Manually clearing everything doesn't take too long. However, when you clear recent searches, cookies and data this way, you are only ever deleting a small portion of the clutter on your Mac. Alongside browser history, there are duplicate documents, numerous downloads. In total, most Mac users find 64GB of clutter and junk taking up valuable disk space and processing power.

One tool to clear all recent searches in one click

To purge all your search histories, file searches, and all that quickly, use CleanMyMac. You can choose exactly what you want cleared and you won’t need to browse separate folders and menus, it’s all in one app.

  1. Go to the Privacy tab under Protection menu;
  2. Select all of the browsers you use, Recent Items Lists, and messenger platforms, e.g. Skype;
  3. Click to clear the history, cookies, cached data, and anything else you want to remove.

Privacy protection

And that’s it. It really is that simple. You can do the same across your Mac to ensure everything runs smoothly, giving it periodic checkups to keep your Mac at peak performance.

Get 230+ Mac apps for any job

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.