Safari Private Browsing History Is Not Forgotten After All


David Lumb

March 20, 2015

Safari users, take note: Your private browsing history is actually quite easy to retrieve. A list of the URLs you have visited during private browsing sessions are stored in a database file, viewable by anyone using your computer who wants to take the time to access it, according to MacIssues. Snoopers, you should stop reading here.

To find (and delete) your private browsing history, you need to access a database file and view it with a SQLite browser, as Lifehacker recommends. Other than being lodged in program folders, the WebpageIcons.db file isn’t hidden or locked in any way—it just takes a minute to open up.

For Mac users of Safari:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the “Go” menu.
  3. Hold the option key and click “Library” when it appears.
  4. Open the Safari folder.
  5. Inside the folder, find the “WebpageIcons.db” file and drag it into your SQLite browser.
  6. Click the “Browse Data” tab in the SQLite window.
  7. Select “PageURL” from Table menu. A list of visited URLs should appear in the window.

For Windows users of Safari:

  1. Click Start and open Computer (i.e., navigate to a window showing the C: drive).
  2. Click in the search bar in the upper-right corner.
  3. Search for “WebpageIcons” and note its pathway (mine was C:\Users\David\AppData\Local\AppleComputer\Safari).
  4. Open your SQLite browser and click “Open Database,” then choose your WebpageIcons.db file.
  5. Click the “Browse data” tab in the SQLite window.
  6. Select “PageURL” from Table menu. A list of visited URLs should appear in the window.

This issue has been known for years, says AppleInsider, pointing out that a 2013 article in the EURASIP Journal on Information Security highlighted this exact bug.

To fully eliminate your private browser history manually, select “Clear History and Website Data” or physically trash the WebpageIcons.db file. Note that Safari will automatically make a new file when you next visit a website, says AppleInsider, so you will need to trash the file periodically.

[via Lifehacker and MacIssues]


This article was written by David Lumb from Fast Company and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter