How to Completely Clear the Web History of IE

You have cleared your IE history but some previously visited sites still show up in the address-bar of your browser. If you’ve got a similar problem, here’s a solution.

Clear the history of visited websites in IE

The more recent versions of Internet Explorer (IE7 and IE8) feature a pretty “smart” address bar. You type some word in the address bar and it will immediately show a list of matching web addresses that are in your browser’s history cache.

The auto-suggest feature in the address bar is a huge time-saver but a a privacy risk as well especially when you share the same computer with other family members.

Since you don’t want mom to know what searches you are performing on Google or what websites you are visiting, Microsoft added a handy “Delete Browsing History” option in Internet Explorer that will completely erase all your tracks with a click.

Why IE won’t delete my browser history

The only problem (see video) is that even if you clear the IE history and your Temporary Internet files folder, some of the previously visited website URLs may still show up in the address bar drop-down.

I have tried almost every possible method and that includes resetting the IE browser to factory defaults, removing the registry entries, running CCleaner to delete the stubborn index.dat, clearing the Temp folders manually, disabling add-ons (IE in Safe Mode) but, unfortunately, none of them worked.

Some previously visited websites continued to show up in the address bar and I was not the only one struggling with this strange problem. A Microsoft support engineer suggested running Windows after a “clean boot” that will load Windows with a minimal set of drivers and startup programs so that you can know if another background program is preventing IE from deleting the browser’s history and cache.

Luckily, the fix is simple and has actually nothing to do with IE’s web history.

The address bar in Internet Explorer is integrated with Windows Desktop search by default so even if you clear the IE history, the web entries that are stored in Windows search index will still show-up in the address bar. These entries appear in the same “History” group and hence users (myself included) confuse it with IE’s history.

To prevent web history items Windows Search from completely showing up in the IE address bar, go to Tools – > Internet Options – > Content – > AutoComplete and delete the option that says “Use Windows Search for better results.”

Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal

Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.

Amit has developed several popular Google add-ons including Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory


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