Chrome Makes Deleting Recent Activity Easier

John Lister's picture

Chrome users on Android devices may soon have an "emergency" button to delete the last 15 minutes of browsing history. It's a simplified version of existing settings and follows a similar tool for search history.

The search delete tool has been available for nearly a year now, but doesn't appear to be widely known about. It's not on the Chrome browser app but rather the dedicated search tool that's accessible on many devices by swiping right from the home screen. Users simply need to click on their profile picture and then select the "Delete last 15 minutes" option.

Now it appears a similar feature is coming to the Chrome browser app. It's shown up as an option to switch on in the "developer flags" section of the settings menu. That means it's at an advance stage of testing and will likely, if not certainly, be rolled out as a default option for all users.

15 Minutes Deleted

This new "Quick Delete" option appears to delete all data from the past 15 minutes, meaning browsing history as well as searches. The deletion is from all Google's records for the user account rather than just deleting the records on the device itself. (Source:

It is already possible to delete search and browsing history on Chrome for Android, but this involves digging into multiple steps of settings menus. This route lets the user delete data from the past hour, day, week, month or from all time. (Source:

It's not yet clear if the quick delete option will stick at 15 minutes or offer other time periods. That may be one of the things currently being tested.

Private Browsing

How useful the feature proves may depend on why people delete browsing and search data. If it's to avoid embarrassing or personal activity being seen by others, it might not make that much difference on Android.

That's because, with phones at least, people are less likely to be sharing access to a device compared with a desktop computer. However, deleting browsing data can affect what comes up on autocomplete when users type in a search term or web address. That could avoid embarrassment when briefly lending a phone to somebody else to use.

Perhaps the most useful benefit of the feature would be the ability to quickly delete data when intending to use Incognito (private browsing) mode and not realizing it hadn't switched on after all.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you use such a feature? Is there any point if people don't know about it? Are you more likely to clear browsing or search data on a phone, tablet or computer?

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