Firefox boosts privacy with history-wiping 'Forget' button, DuckDuckGo search support

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Feeling ashamed of your latest Kim Kardashian news binge? The latest version of Firefox can easily forget all about it.

Firefox version 33.1 adds a new button called “Forget,” which lets users wipe only their most recent browsing history and cookies. Users can choose to forget the last 5 minutes, 2 hours or 24 hours of activity, while preserving all history and cookies prior to that timeframe.

Firefox has long offered a Private Browsing feature, which wipes all history and cookies once users close the private window. But that requires planning ahead. For users who browse normally and later realize they’d like to erase some evidence, they previously had to dig into the tools menu to find the “Clear Recent History” option. The Forget button brings some of those history-clearing options to the main toolbar, making them accessible with just a couple of clicks. It also takes the extra step of closing all current windows and opening a fresh one in their place.

Continuing with the privacy theme, Mozilla has also added DuckDuckGo as an option in Firefox’s search bar. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that emphasizes privacy, keeping no record of users’ searches and logging no IP addresses. Enabling DuckDuckGo in Firefox previously required an add-on, but it’s now a default option in the search bar’s drop-down menu.

Why this matters: Firefox’s market share has been trending downward for years as more people turn to Google Chrome, and efforts like an open Web app store and customizable interface have done little to boost the browser’s relevance. But the privacy angle is a compelling one, and even if it doesn’t reverse Firefox’s dwindling usage share, it at least gives users a reason to consider Firefox once again.

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