Domestic violence - staying safe online

If you are worried about someone knowing what you've been doing online, there are things you can do to hide this information.

If you are worried about someone knowing what web pages you have been looking at, there are things you can do to hide this information.

Most browsers have a private browsing mode (sometimes called Incognito or Secret mode), which doesn't store information once you've closed the page.

Private browsing is the best way of hiding your activity, because if you don't have any browsing history then that might be a clue that something is up. If you do wipe your browser history, visit a few safe websites afterwards to make sure there's something there.

Private mode on a computer or laptop

Microsoft browsers

Microsoft Edge icon Edge (new): click the three dots ... on the right, at the top of the browser window (just under the close icon) and select New InPrivate window.

Internet Explorer icon Internet Explorer (old): click the cog icon - cog menu icon - at the top right, and the menu should have a Safety option. This brings up another menu that has InPrivate Browsing as an option.

Shortcut for both versions: press CTRL + Shift + P at the same time

Chrome icon Google Chrome

Click the three vertical dots - three vertical dots menu icon - on the right, at the top of the browser window and select New icognito window.

Shortcut: CTRL + Shift + N

Firefox icon Firefox

Click the three lines - three line menu icon - to bring up the menu, and select New Private Window

Shortcut: CTRL + Shift + P

Private mode on mobile devices

Apple (iPhone etc.) devices

To get to the menu, you may need to scroll down then up until five icons show up at the bottom. Click on the one that looks like two squares (bottom right), and this shows all of your open pages. This should have the Private option in the bottom left.


Android devices

Chrome (most Android phone and tablets)

To get to the menu, you may need to scroll down then up. A bar appears along the top with three dots in the top right - three vertical dots menu icon - click on this and you should see a menu with a New incognito tab option on it. This will open a private browsing page.


Samsung browser

On Samsung devices a different browser is used, and this does not have the incognito option. At the bottom of the window you'll see a Tabs option, with two rectangles above it, in the bottom right. Click this brings up a list of all of your open pages, and a Turn on Secret mode option.


Clearing your browser history on a computer or laptop

Microsoft browsers

Microsoft Edge icon Edge (new): Click on the Hub button - star and lines hub button - at the top of the page, and a box opens with a number of options - Favourites, Reading list, History and Downloads. Select History, and you'll see Clear history as an option at the top of the box. Click on this and you can delete all of your recent browsing history.

Internet Explorer icon Internet Explorer (old): click the cog icon - cog menu icon - at the top right, and the menu should have a Safety option. This brings up another menu that has Delete browsing history as an option.

Shortcut for both versions: press CTRL + Shift + delete at the same time.

Chrome icon Google Chrome

Chrome has the most comprehensive controls for clearing your browser history, but it takes some finding.

Click the three vertical dots - three vertical dots menu icon - on the right, at the top of the browser window, to open the menu. One of the options is History, and following that gives another History option to open a new page with all of your browsing history. You can select individual sites and pages to delete (click the DELETE option at the top of the page), or you can click the Clear browsing data option from the left side.

This opens a window that allows you to delete all browsing history for an hour, or select a longer period of time. (You can also get straight to this option by opening the menu, going to Settings, opening the Advanced option at the bottom, and at the bottom of the Privacy and Security section you'll see Clear browsing history.)

Shortcut: CTRL + Shift + delete

Firefox icon Firefox

Click the three lines - three line menu icon - to bring up the menu, select Library, then History, and then Clear Recent History. This opens a window that will allow you to delete the history for the last hour, or select a longer period of time.

Shortcut: CTRL + Shift + delete

Clearing your browser history on mobile devices

Apple (iPhone etc.) devices

To delete the history on an Apple device, click on the icon that looks like a book (at the top of the page), and you should see your history (or be able to select a link to go there). At the bottom of the history list is a Clear button.

Android devices

Chrome (most Android phone and tablets)

To get to the menu, you may need to scroll down then up. A bar appears along the top with three dots in the top right - three vertical dots menu icon - click on this and you should see a menu with Settings near the bottom. When the settings open, there should be a Privacy option in the Advanced area. Down near the bottom of the Privacy settings (you might need to scroll down) is a Clear browsing data option. This will allow you to clear data for the last hour, or longer if you wish.

Samsung browser

To get to the menu, you may need to scroll down then up. A bar appears along the top with three dots in the top right - three vertical dots menu icon - click on this and you should see a menu. You need the Settings option, which you might be lower down the menu - you might need to scroll down to find it. You then need to go in to Privacy, and then Delete browsing data.

Emails

Messages sent to you can be printed out to be used as evidence of harassment.

If you send an email, a copy of it will be saved in an email folder called Sent Items (or just Sent). You can delete these, but this may just move it into Deleted Items (which may be called something else, like Bin or Trash ). You need to make sure you've also deleted it from this folder too.

If you haven't sent the email, it might be automatically saved into a Drafts folder. You need to delete this, and then check in the deleted items folder.

More information