Why would you want to see someone’s internet history – that is, a list of the websites (and the pages within them) that they’ve recently viewed? There are a number of reasons. For example, you may want to ensure that your child is staying safe online or you may want to find a site you’ve visited but can’t remember its name. Keeping internet history can have security implications, too, as it allows anyone to see just what you’ve been looking at. However, storing your viewing history means that web pages load faster when you revisit them.

Depending on your settings, you can retain a list of websites visited today or even several weeks back. A word of warning, though: the more days back you go, the more space will be taken up on your hard drive. So unless you have a good reason to store months of visited websites, you should keep no more than about a week’s worth.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to view internet history on Internet Explorer 8

Step 1: Open the browser and click Tools and then Internet Options.

Internet options

Step 2: If there’s a tick in the box next to ‘Delete browsing history on exit’, no information will have been stored. Click in the box to remove the tick – this will ensure that all future web surfing is recorded. Then click Settings.

Delete browsing history on exit

Step 3: At the bottom of the ‘Temporary Internet Files and History Settings’ window, under ‘History’, you’ll see a box with arrows pointing up and down. This is the number of days that you want the browser to save websites that have been visited. You’ll see on this example that ’20′ has been chosen. Clicking on the up or down arrow will, respectively, increase or decrease the number of days required.

Click OK on each window to return to your browser’s main page.

Temporary internet files and history window

Step 4: Now that you’ve ensured that the websites viewed on your computer will be recorded, in a few days you can view your internet history. Click Favorites and then History.


Step 5: The panel you now see will automatically list sites by the dates on which they were visited.

Internet history

If you want to change this – for instance, to see the most frequently viewed sites instead – click on the arrow in the drop-down box and select ‘View By Most Visited’.

View history by

Step 6: Websites are shown below in a list by date. To look at any of these sites, all you have to do is click on the relevant link.

Visited website links

If several pages within one site have been visited, these will appear under the site name. For instance, if you’ve been on the BBC home page, then on the News page and then on iPlayer, each of these pages will show as visited under the main ‘BBC’ heading.

Several pages under one main heading

Step 7: To close the ‘History’ panel, click Favorites again.

For newer versions of Internet Explorer follow these steps:

Step 1: Click on the favourites and internet history icon.

picture of internet explorer toolbar

Step 2: This will take you to your favourites list with a new toolbar at the top. Click on the icon that looks like a clock.  

Step 3: This will pull up a list of searches. 


Step 4: If you scroll further down you can see an archive of all your internet searches. 

Debbie Brixey is a Digital Unite tutor in south London.