Complete Guide to Clearing Cache, History and Cookies in Firefox

One of our most popular articles on is  and How To Clear Firefox History, Cookies and Cache Automatically at Exit. Since then a lot has happened in the land of Firefox.  Specifically, the User Interface for clearing the cache has changed, a new Private Browsing Mode is introduced, AND there are now several add-on tools which have been created to help you through the process of clearing your history, cache, and cookies.  Let’s dive into each of these new areas!

How-To Enable Private Browsing in Firefox

Open Firefox and hit the ALT button to open the File Menu. Then click Tools, Start Private Browsing.

You can also just use the Keyboard Shortcut Keys Ctrl+Shift+P.

Start Private Browsing - Firefox


Once you enable Private Browsing, don’t be surprised when all your other Firefox windows and tabs close.  This closing is by design.  Once you close the “Private Browsing” Firefox window and re-launch Firefox again regularly, all your previous windows and tabs will open.

Now that we have that out-of-the-way let’s show you the NEW way to manually clear the Firefox History, Cache, and Cookies vs. the .

How-To Clear the Firefox History, Cache, and Cookies

Open Firefox and hit the ALT key to open the File Menu. Now click Tools, Clear Recent History.  Or the Keyboard Shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Del

Clear Recent History / Cache / Cookies in Firefox

Clear cache time range in Firefox


Now this is where a few things have changed from previous versions of

Firefox.  The first thing you will notice is a new Drop Down menu based on a Time Range.

You can either just leave the default which is EVERYTHING or adjust the dropdown to only include the Last Hour, Two Hours, Four Hours or Entire Day.  Pretty groovy.

Click the Down Arrow to specify the Time Range you want to clear the history for, and then Check the boxes to clear each of the categories of data that you want to clear.

Most will want to clear their Cookies and Cache etc.  Either way, Click Clear Now to start the wipe.

How-To Manually Confirm Cache has been Wiped

Did you know you can just type About:Cache into the URL bar of Firefox and get a breakout of your Cache?  Click the screenshot to the right to get a quick idea of what I mean.  Very groovy little tip if you are paranoid and want to make sure you nuke all your cache!

Disk and memeory Cache stats for Firefox

How-To Customize Firefox History, Cache, and Cookie Settings

In the previous article, I also talked about How-To automatically clear the private data when you close Firefox.  Since I wrote that article, the screens have changed, as well as some other options, so let’s take a look at all of them.

Open Firefox, hit the ALT key, and click Tools, Options.

Firefox Options Menu

Click Privacy Tab then Click Down Arrow in History Box and Click Use custom settings for history.

Firefox - use custom settings for history

Once you choose the Custom settings for history drop-down, you will see two key options many people search for:

  1. Automatically start Firefox in a private browsing session
  2. Clear history when Firefox closes

Configuring them both is as straightforward as a checkbox once you find where you set it.  Good news for you, now you know!

Decide which options you want to enable and check the boxes.  If you enable the Clear checkbox history when Firefox closes, then be sure to Click Settings to customize what will automatically clear when you close Firefox.

Firefox - automatically start firefox in private browsing session and settings for clearing history when firefox closes

So now that you understand the bowels of clearing your private data from Firefox, you won’t feel guilty using an Add-on that makes the job a little easier.  After all, one thing that makes Firefox so attractive is the large user community who are always building new add-on tools for it.


Filter Firefox add-on search results

How-To Install a Firefox Add-on to Clear Private Data from Firefox

The first step to finding the tool we need is just to go to the Firefox Add-on site and search for something like clear cache.  You can filter the results to your version of Firefox. However, the site also does an excellent job of detecting your version of Firefox and not giving you a Download prompt if the Add-on isn’t compatible with your version of Firefox.

I tried out 2 or 3 add-on tools for clearing the cache and overall they were fine.

  • Cache Status – Adds a nice status to the bottom right of Firefox that shows you your memory and disk cache status.  Right-click the status bar to Clear the cache.  The downside is this will only clear the cache, not the cookies.
  • Click&Clean – Probably the best of the 3, allows the most options plus the option to clear Flash Cookies. However, it is just an Icon that does the same thing as Ctrl+Shift+Del.
  • Empty Cache Button – This probably would have been my favorite. However, the Options didn’t expose to me the option to let me configure it to clear Cookies + Standard Cache.

How-To Configure Firefox Add-On Tools

So now that you have one of the Firefox Tools installed to clear your cache, how do you configure them?  Simple.

Hit the Alt key and Click Tools, Add-ons.

Open Firefox Add-on menu

Click the Add-On you wish to configure and click Options.

How-to Configure firefox add-ons

Note: Some configurations for each add-on application is unique so that the options will vary widely.  Some Firefox add-ons don’t even let you configure them, so just an FYI.

How-To Add the Add-On Icon to your Firefox Toolbar

So now that you’ve installed the Add-On where is it?  Oh yeah, before you can use some add-ons you need to add the Icon to your Toolbar.  Personally, I like to add the Clear Cache Icon next to my URL Bar.  Here’s how you do that.

Open Firefox, Hit the Alt key and click View, Toolbars, Customize.

How-to add the add-on icon to firefox toolbar

Find the Icon for the new Add-On, Click and Drag it to where you want it to live.  Click Done after you move it.

How-to add the add-on icon to firefox toolbar by dragging it

Here’s what it should look like when done.

New firefox add-on icon on toolbar

So, as I said earlier, this tutorial was created using Firefox 3.6.2 as were all the screenshots, etc.  Being that this is technology, there is no question that things will change, so be sure to subscribe to to receive all the latest updates in Firefox privacy/security.

Comments?  Did I miss your favorite tool, Firefox tip or did confuse you?  Join the discussion and drop a comment below.



  1. shockersh  

    Nice write-up. I personally use CCleaner to do a full system wipe and clear cache on everything. I do like the info on the add-on’s. 1 Click is nice ;)

    • You know what – I probably should have posted a link to it in the article somewhere being that we did a write-up for CCleaner earlier. You can find it here:

      Thanks for the comment

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