View Browsing History on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch from Safari

Feb 27, 2013 - 16 Comments

Safari icon Unlike the desktop browsers, there are no obvious “History” menus in Safari on the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to help you navigate through webpages you visited earlier that you may want to access again. But that doesn’t mean there is no browsing history feature, instead it’s just slightly hidden, and accessing the browsing history in Safari is super simple though it may not be immediately evident given how it’s accessed in iOS.

Viewing Browser History in Safari for iOS

There are three important things to remember when using the iOS Safari History feature:

  • Tap and hold on the Back [<] button in Safari to view browser History
  • Tap any link in History to immediately jump back to it
  • Tap and hold the Forward [>] button in Safari to navigate ahead in history, or to go back to where you started

Access Browser history on iPhone

Assuming you have enough browsing history to be able to navigate through it, tapping and holding on the back button will show the History screen like this on an iPhone or iPod touch:

Viewing browser history on iOS Safari

It’s generally easiest to view the Safari History in landscape mode on the smaller screened iPhone and iPod touch displays since you’re able to see more of the page titles and URL’s, though it’s still visible in vertical portrait orientation as well.

On the iPad, the Safari browser History is accessed exactly the same by a tap-and-hold on the Back or Forward buttons, but it’s viewed slightly differently because there is more screen real estate to work with, instead appearing as a hovering pop-up over web pages:

View Browsing History on iPad

Everything from a single browser window will be stored in History unless that window has been closed, but even still some of that information can be recovered if someone was persistent enough.

Showing & Accessing Complete Browser History from Days Past

What if you want to see browsing history from sites you visited yesterday? Or what about two days ago? You can find the complete browsing history in iOS by doing the following:

  • Tap the Bookmark icon (it looks like a little book)
  • Tap “History”
  • Drill down into specific dates, tap on any date folder to see the complete history from that day, or tap on any link to open that web page again

On the iPhone, this is what it looks like:

Access past browser history in iOS

Tapping through on History you will then see the page history for the current day, then individual folders containing history from previous days:

Full browsing history shown on iPhone

Thanks to Anita for suggesting this additional tip in the comments

If you are looking to prevent Safari from keeping track of web browsing history, the easiest way to do that is to simply turn on Private Browsing in iOS, a feature readily available on the iPhone and iPad, which will prevent any history from being stored. It’s quite obvious when it’s turned on because the Safari web browser turns black, signifying Private Browsing is enabled. On the other hand, if you forgot to enable the private browsing feature and now have a bunch of web history you’d rather not be viewed, recovered, or found by others, you can always choose to manually clear out the browser history and caches instead by going to Settings > Safari > Clear History.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

16 Comments

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  1. Jennifer says:

    It’s also possible to click on the bookmark icon, click back out of the bookmarks, and view all the browsing history available, not just the last few clicks that are easily available. I tend to close my tabs a lot to keep a clean page for the next use, so the page’s tip is of less use to me.

  2. Marcelo Campiglia says:

    By pressing the bookmarks icon there is a History log.

  3. John says:

    Thanks. Great tip!

  4. Anita Howard says:

    I don’t get this. As has been stated, click on the bookmarks, then tap the little clock and see all your history. So what makes any sense in what you said? I’m confused

  5. Philip says:

    Another cool thing i realised is:

    If you open a new browser page when you already had 8 tabs open you can tap & hold the back button; so to retrieve & not lose the overwritten tab

  6. sault says:

    Nice tip.

  7. Nancy Brooks says:

    I have a baby-sitter who I think may be watching inappropriate materials. I just don’t know how to check what he is visiting . He is only fourteen years old. I have an iPad. I tried the suggestion about the bookmarks but I didn’t do it right. Can u help me through the process?

    • Ruoh says:

      In Safari, tap and hold on the “<” Back button to see if sites come up, it’s a button but it looks like an arrow pointing the other direction. If the iPad user is a 14 year old of the male variety, it’s practically guaranteed they are doing something inappropriate with the iPad, but they could be clearing the history and cache too.

  8. Nancy Brooks says:

    Also, I don’t get a history tab when I hold down on the bookmark tab

  9. MM says:

    Will history that was viewed in private browsing mode show too when pressing this arrow!

  10. MM says:

    Sorry. That was suppose to be a question mark. Also, if my ipad shows my email acct and texts from my iPhone is there a way to view private browsing history from the iPhone, on the iPad?

    • priv says:

      No, the whole point of Private Browsing is that there is no history maintained or stored, thus there is no way to view the private browsing history.

  11. MM says:

    But the private browsing info is stored some where out there….. Where?

    • priv says:

      No, private browsing data is not stored anywhere that an average user is going to access under any reasonable circumstance. That is why it’s called Private Browsing, so no caches are kept locally.

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