The problem of multiple devices being listed in your Chrome browser’s history is one that is frequently discussed on forums and in technology chat rooms. It not surprising that it’s a problem – Google have made the process of deleting old devices frustratingly opaque in their online help documents. It’s certainly strange that it’s not clear how to remove out-dated devices; with the rate that users buy new tablets, smart phones and laptops it is easily possible to have several devices listed if you are a long-time Chrome user.
Security Dangers Of Retaining Multiple Devices
From a security standpoint it’s also not great. Your browsing history from those devices will remain attached to your account forever. It means even if you stop using your device and it eventually disappears from the browsing history screen – as some users report – the device’s digital footprint will still be connected to your account into the future. Therefore, from both an organisational and a safety point of view, it’s best to delete the old gadget as soon as you permanently stop using it. Remember, there are also ways to manually and automatically manage your browsing history on a site-by-site basis.
Viewing Your Devices and History
If you’re not sure how to find your history and the devices we are referring to then open Chrome on your computer, click on the three lines in the top right hand corner, and click on ‘History’. You’ll be presented with a page that shows your complete browsing history along with any devices that are connected to your account listed along the top of the screen.
You’ll Need Chrome On Your Mobile Device
Oddly, if you only use Chrome on a laptop or desktop there is no way to remove the old listings. This is presumably deliberate on Google’s behalf in an attempt to force people onto their browser when using mobile operating systems – but it means even if you’ve only ever used Chrome on traditional computers and use Safari, Dolphin Browser, or a Samsung’s default browser when you are on-the-go, you’ll have to download Chrome for your device just to de-clutter your desktop’s browser. It can be annoying.
Alas, this article is not to discuss the rights and wrongs of Google’s policy and design, but rather to tell you how to achieve what you want to.
You can see the problem in the screenshot below. Although in this case both laptops and the phone are current devices that are in use, if you had just bought a new phone or new computer you would also see the old devices listed there, with no way to delete or remove them. In fact, the only option available to a desktop user is to collapse the list, yet the device remains visible.
The solution is to download a mobile version of Chrome onto your phone or tablet from Apple’s App Store, Google’s Play Store, or another third party equivalent. The download is free – if you are being asked to pay for it you should stop and go to a different store. After you’ve downloaded it the app will install itself automatically.
Connect Chrome on Your Mobile Device To Google
Once you have successfully got the mobile version of Chrome installed on your mobile gadget the next step is to sign into your Google Account through the browser’s settings. This will not only sync all your bookmarks, history and passwords, but will also allow you to see all the other devices attached to your account. When you open Chrome on your mobile device for the first time you will be prompted to sign in. If you don’t get this message, head to settings -> sign-in and enter your Google Account details when prompted.
Viewing Your Devices
To see exactly which devices are attached you’ll need to navigate to the browser’s history. There are two ways to do this. Either open a new tab then press on the clock symbol in the bottom right-hand corner, or press on the three vertical dots in the top right corner, then select ‘History’ from the pop up menu. In order to get to the screen we need, you’ll need to follow the first method.
Once there, you will see the same information that you saw on the desktop version, but presented in a mobile format. In the screenshot below you can see ‘DANLAPTOP’ is the top entry, and if I scroll down I’ll also see ‘Nexus 5’ and ‘Chromebook’ – along with their complete browsing history from the last few days.
Remember, if you don’t like Chrome’s default way of displaying your history you can try cottonTracks – software which automatically bundles your browsing history.
To delete a device from the list, simply press and hold down your finger on the entry that you wish to remove. After a couple of seconds you will see a new option pop onto the screen with the text ‘Remove from list’. Press this option and your device will be gone.
How’s Your History Now?
Has this helped you to fix a security hole in your device listings? Do you have any other great tips about your history settings in Chrome? Should Google make this option available on the desktop?