December 29, 2008, 12:04 PM — An anonymous reader wants to erase tracks that show he's visited certain web sites, but without erasing his entire surfing history.
Whether this will be easy, difficult, or impossible depends on what browser you use.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be possible with Internet Explorer. If someone knows otherwise, please add that to the comments below.
Things are better with FireFox, which lets you delete selected pages from both the History panel and the address bar's separate history. Press - h for your History panel. Find the offending page (if you're using 3.0, the search capability makes this easier), right-click it, and select Delete.
Now you have to deal with the address bar's separate history. If there's something embarrassing in the address bar's pull-down menu, point to the item with your mouse, but instead of clicking it, press .
But if you're using FireFox 3.0, it could still be lurking there long after it disappeared from the visible list. Start typing the unwanted domain name in the address bar, and the pull-down screen will display the embarrassing page. Delete as described above.
Now the good news: The next generation of browsers eliminates the need to ever do this again. They all come with a special mode that lets you surf in secret. Many people call this porn mode, but the browsers don't.
Unfortunately, the versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox with the feature some call porn mode are still in beta--you use them at your own risk. I'll include instructions here in case you're willing to use beta software, or are reading this after the finished versions are out.
To enter Internet Explorer 8's private mode, select Safety (in the upper-right corner), then InPrivate Browsing. A second browser window will come up, this one adorned by a "InPrivate" logo next to the address bar.
If you're using Firefox 3.1 and wish to surf privately, select Tools, then Private Browsing. Firefox will save and close your current tabs and bring you to a blank one. Firefox doesn't look different in this mode, but if you click Tools, you'll see that the Private Browsing option is checked. Uncheck it, and Firefox will close your current tags and reopen the ones it saved.
Google's Chrome browser has graduated from beta to the real thing, so it might be safer. To enter its Incognito Mode, click the Tools icon and select New incognito window.