Firefox Tip: Keeping Things Private

Using Firefox on a shared computer such as an office workstation, library, or school computer lab? Don’t want people seeing what you did/saw? That’s a very good idea. When your done browsing the web go to the “Tools” menu and select “Clear Private Data”. Check the data you want to delete and “Clear Private Data Now”. This will ensure the next person doesn’t see your browsing history, or have access to site you forgot to logout. Here’s a list of the options and what they mean in simple terms:

  • Browsing History – The list of sites web pages you visited.
  • Download History – The list of files you downloaded to your computer.
  • Saved Form and Search History – Every time you fill in a form your browser will store some info so that it’s easier to fill in next time (that’s why it can suggest your address when you signup for something). This data in addition to your history of searches.
  • Cache – Temporary files from the web pages you visited stored on your computer. Examples include images in the pages as well as the pages themselves.
  • Cookies – Data used by websites to store info, such as login information or preferences.
  • Saved Passwords – You’ll definitely want to delete these. 😉 Remember you can also disable the password manager.
  • Authenticated Sessions – Certain sites you are currently logged into that use a technique called HTTP Authentication. If in doubt, clear this.

Want to do this every time you close out of your browser? Go to “Tools” and select “Options”. Then click on the “Privacy” icon on the top. Check the “Always clear my private data when I close Firefox” checkbox.

Another option is to use Portable Firefox. This special download is designed to be installed and run from a USB drive. It saves all preferences/settings to your drive, so you take your data with you. This will only work in places where you are allowed to use a USB drive, and can open applications off of one (not every public computer may do so).

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