How to Remove All History From a Windows Computer
Whenever you use your laptop, Windows 8.1 automatically saves data about the programs, folders and documents you open, your browsing history and the items you delete. This information is readily available to anyone who has access to your computer and knows where to look. To remove your historical data, navigate to each location that has the settings to delete your information -- such as the Internet Properties utility, the Recycle Bin and the Taskbar and Navigation Properties utility.
Clear Browsing History
Press the **Windows** key to open the Modern UI and type **Internet Options**. Select **Internet Options** from the Results list to open the Internet Options dialog window. To open the Internet Options window in Windows 7, click the **Start** button and then select **Control Panel**. Select **Network and Internet** and click **Internet Options**.
Click the **Delete** button in the Browsing History section of the window's General tab. Select the **Delete Browsing History...** check box to automatically erase your browsing history after exiting the operating system's native browser.
Select the **Temporary Internet Files and Website Files**, **Cookies and Data**, **History**, and **Download History** check boxes to delete cookies and related Internet data that are stored on your laptop's hard drive. To remove information and passwords that you entered in website forms -- such as the keywords you entered in a search engine -- select the **Form Data** and **Passwords** check boxes. Click the **Delete** button to remove your browsing data.
Empty Recycle Bin
Press **Windows-W** to open the Search Charm and then type **Recycle Bin** in the Search field. Choose **Free Up Disk Space on This PC** from the Results list to open the PC and Devices section of the PC Settings screen.
Select **Disk Space** in the left pane and then click the **Empty My Recycle Bin** button.
Click the **Delete** button on the pop-up box to empty your Recycle Bin.
Erase List of Recent Items
Right-click an empty area of the taskbar and select **Properties** from the pop-up menu to open the Taskbar and Navigation Properties dialog box.
Click the **Jump Lists** tab and then clear the **Store Recently Opened Programs** and **Store and Display Recently Opened Items in Jump Lists** check boxes to prevent your recent items from appearing on the [Jump Lists](http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/using-jump-lists-to-open-programs-and-items). The number in the *Number of Recent Items in Jump Lists* changes to zero.
Click the **Apply** button to erase the list of your recently opened items and then click **OK**.
Tips & Warnings
- To delete the items in the Windows 7 Recycle Bin, open the Recycle Bin, select "Empty the Recycle Bin" and then click "Yes."
- To clear the recent items list on Windows 7, right-click an empty area of the taskbar and then choose "Properties" from the menu. Select the "Start Menu" tab, clear the check boxes for both items in the Privacy section and then click "Apply."
- If you plan to sell or give away your laptop, reinstall the Windows operating system to delete all of your data. The option to reinstall Windows is in the Update and Recovery section of the PC Settings screen.
References & Resources
- Microsoft Windows: View and Delete Your Browsing History
- Microsoft Windows: Working With Control Panel
- Microsoft Windows: Tips To Free Up Drive Space On Your PC
- Microsoft Windows: Permanently Delete Files From the Recycle Bin
- Beginning Windows 8.1; Mike Halsey
- Microsoft Windows: Clear Lists on the Start Menu and Taskbar
- Microsoft Windows: Start Screen
- Microsoft Windows: Using the Charms for Things You Do Often
- Microsoft Windows: Using Jump Lists to Open Programs and Items
- Microsoft Windows: How to Refresh, Reset or Restore Your PC