Viewing the browsing history - Firefox
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Revision as of 23:21, 22 April 2011
In Firefox, the History menu displays a short list of recently visited web pages. You can view your complete browsing history by opening the History sidebar or, starting in Firefox 3, by viewing History from the Library window.
In Firefox 3.0 and above, opening the History menu and selecting "Show All History" opens the Library window with History selected. You can also open the Library window from the Bookmarks menu via "Show All Bookmarks" ("Organize Bookmarks" prior to Firefox 4) and select "History" in the left pane, or you can use the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+Shift+H" ("Cmd+Shift+H" on Mac OS). In Firefox 3.0, History is displayed as a list of visited web pages. This is may not be as useful to you, however, as the History sidebar (see below), where you can view visited pages sorted by date and site.
In Firefox 3.5 and above, the Library window groups History by day visited (Today, Yesterday, Last 7 days, This month, or a specific month). Selecting one of the available groupings in the left pane displays a list of visited pages for that time period, as shown below. 
Note that Bookmarks and History are stored in the same location (in the places.sqlite database file) and both History and Bookmarks are accessible from the Library window. The Search box searches on both Name (page title) and Location (web address or "URL"). The search applies to all History items or all Bookmark items but never to both. To be sure which you are searching, look for "Search History" or "Search Bookmarks" (in gray) in the Search box, before entering your search term.
Note: You can view all History items by entering a character in the Library window "Search History" box that is common to all entries, such as a colon (":") or forward slash ("/"). Since all web addresses (URLs) include those characters, all History items will be displayed. (This also works for Bookmarks.)  This can also be useful in getting item counts.
In the Library window, you can click on any column header to sort by that column (click a second time to reverse the order), and you can rearrange columns by dragging the column header. You can view additional columns by right-clicking on a column heading or via the Views menu (Show Columns). In addition to Name and Location, you can also select Visit Date (last) and Visit Count. The other items are for bookmarks: Keyword, Tags, Description, Added (date), and Last Modified. The | Show Parent Folder extension provides for a Parent Folder column for bookmarks, unlike the other columns, it is not sortable.
Your sort column choice will be retained for the next time you bring up the Library List. If you do not want to sort on any column then use the Views menu (in the Library List), Sort, Unsorted -- then listing will be in the same order as your bookmarks (and history) sidebar, and the left side of the Library list. Sorting in the Library has no effect of the actual order of your bookmarks in the sidebar and is only meant for viewing in a different order in the Library.
In Firefox 2, the History sidebar was accessible from the History menu, by selecting "Show in Sidebar". Starting in Firefox 3, this menu item is no longer included in the History menu but you can open the History sidebar in other ways, as explained below.
Note: Selecting "History -> Show All History" in Firefox 3 opens the Library window (see above)
Opening the History sidebar
You can customize the toolbar by adding a History button, so that you can open the History sidebar with one click.
You can also open the History sidebar using the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+H" (Windows and Linux) or "Cmd+Shift+H" (Mac OS).
Changing the view order
To change how the History sidebar displays visited pages, open the History sidebar and click on View (to the right of the Search box). A drop-down menu will open with the view options listed. You can sort the list of visited pages by Date and Site (as shown above), by Site, by Date, by Most Visited, or by Last Visited.
Selecting history items
Selections without invoking the page can be made within the History display, by clicking to the left of the favicon (webpage icon) in the list.
Adding additional selections - multiple selections
You may then use the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+A" (use "Cmd+A" on Mac OS) to select all that are shown, or you can add more with Ctrl+click again at the left of another item's favicon, or extend a selection with Shift+click.
For multiple selections, the context menu displays "Open All in Tabs", "Copy", and "Delete". When using "Open All in Tabs" suggest you proceed from a new tab ("Ctrl+T"), as the first item in the selection will load into the active tab.
Deleting history items
You can delete selected History items, which is useful if you want to remove unwanted items or reduce clutter in the Location Bar autocomplete drop-down list (this will not affect your bookmarks).
After selecting the unwanted items, open the context menu (i.e., right-click a selected item) and click "Delete", as shown here for Firefox 3 on Windows (or press the Delete key) to remove them from your browsing history. You can alternately context-click (right-click) on individual items and select "Delete" from the context menu.
Deleting most recent of browsing history, or a time interval of browsing history
Use View menu to sort by "By Last Visited" then select and delete the recent range of activity.
Deleting Google searches from browsing history so not shown in Location bar Autocomplete
Eliminate Google searches "http://www.google.com/search?" from history and then do the same for "http://www.google.com/advanced_search?"
Deleting "404 Not Found" entries from Location Bar autocomplete
Eliminate "404 Not Found" entries by typing that string into the History search box, use "Ctrl+A"(use "Cmd+A" on Mac OS) to select all of results, then use the Delete key to remove.
Deleting selected history contains will fail (Bug 493062)
Deleting multiple selected history containers such as in View "By Date and Site", "By Site" and "By Date" will only delete the first of the selected containers. There is no problem deleting individual items as in View "By Most Visited" and "By Last Visited" as in earlier example shown above within this topic.
Clearing the browsing history
If you want to clear all of your browsing history, you can do so in Firefox options/preferences, via "Tools -> Options -> Privacy / Private Data -> Settings" (Firefox 3.0) or from "Tools -> Clear Recent History" in Firefox 3.5 but it might be easier to just bring up the History sidebar, use "Ctrl+A" (use "Cmd+A" on Mac OS) to select all listed items, then press the Delete key.
View History in a tab or window
You can enter the following chrome URL in the Location Bar, to view the History in a tab or window instead of in the History sidebar:
Chrome URLs can be bookmarked and used in keyword bookmarks, but can't be used in links.
Finding recent web page
Worst case, suppose you were just editing a page, and misplaced it; hopefully, it is still open somewhere so that you still have your work in progress (first three items). If not you still want to find the page.
Note: In Firefox 4.0 the Back/Forward toolbar button no longer displays a drop-down button, use right-click, or hold the left-click for 1 second. Older items within the tab are at the bottom of the list with the current position indicated by a globe.
Firefox has expanded its definition of "history" to mean more than just your browsing history. Firefox groups the option for remembering browsing history together with options for remembering form history, download history, and cookies. In Firefox 3.0 and above, you also have an option to clear such "private data" from the Tools menu ("Tools -> Clear Recent History" in Firefox 3.5).
Privacy options ("Tools -> Options -> Privacy") control how long Firefox will retain browsing history, whether it will retain download history, search and form history, and what cookies will be accepted and for how long. You can indicate which items should be cleared when Firefox closes (make sure to check Settings carefully if you choose to clear history when Firefox closes; otherwise, all browsing history may be removed). For additional information see the Firefox Support articles, Options window - Privacy panel, Clearing private data, and Clear Recent History.
Starting in Firefox 3.5, a "Private Browsing" option is available in which Firefox does not save any browsing history, download history, web form history, cookies, or cache (however, file downloads and bookmarks you make will be saved). Firefox creates cookies like in a regular session, but all created cookies are session cookies and removed if you close that Private Browsing session. Cookie exceptions created while in Private Browsing mode are kept. See Private Browsing at Firefox Support for details.
Related bug reports