Restore Safari History With Time Machine

By Dan Hinckley

18 responses. »

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Like all web browsers, Safari keeps track of the websites you’ve visited and when you went to them. This can be very helpful if you’re trying to track down websites you’ve been to but can’t seem to find again.

Clearing Safari History

Although seeing where you’ve been and what sites you’ve looked at can be helpful, it also takes away from some of your privacy. To clear your history you can select History from your menu bar and then click Clear History. Additionally, you can clear your Safari browsing history by selecting Safari on the menu bar and then clicking Reset Safari (This method also allows you to clear all personal data Safari may have stored on your system).

Restoring Safari History

If for some reason after you’ve cleared your Safari history you discover you can’t find a website you know you visited 3 weeks ago, Time Machine is there to help. If you haven’t already gotten an external hard drive be sure to do so to help you stay backed up.

To Restore your Safari Browsing History:

  1. Close Safari and Open Finder
  2. Select your user account under Places (There will be a Home icon next to it)
  3. Open the Library folder, and then Safari folder
  4. Open Time Machine – Time Machine will open displaying the Safari folder in Safari you’ve navigated to
  5. Select the date you’d like to restore your browsing history from
  6. Select the History.plist file and click restore – A dialog box will open asking you if you want to proceed – Click REPLACE
  7. Open Safari and click History on the menu bar

If the restore was successful, you should see today’s history plus the date you restored from below it. Navigate down to the Date and the history of sites you visited on that date will be displayed.

Exclude Safari History From Time Machine Backups

Now that we’ve showed how easy it is to restore your browsing history… you may want to keep that information as private as possible.

To keep Time Machine from backing up Safari History:

  1. Command Click (right click) on Time Machine in the Dock and select Time Machine Preferences…
  2. Click Options
  3. Click the + button
  4. Navigate to your User folder, Library, and then Safari
  5. Select History.plist and click the Exclude Button (To keep everything in Safari Private, select the Safari Folder and click exclude)
System Preferences.jpg

This should add history.plist or all your Browsing personal information out of Time Machine backups. This, combined with Safari’s Private Browsing feature will allow you to browse the web without anyone being able to trace your steps.

About Dan Hinckley
Dan Hinckley is an experienced Mac user who converted to Apple products when they introduced them on Intel Processors. He loves helping others get more out of their devices! Subscribe to Maciverse.com to get the latest from Dan and the Maciverse Team!! Find out more about Dan:

18 Responses so far.

  1. Best of Maciverse: May 08

    November 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    [...] Restore Safari with Time Machine – If you ever need to look back on your browsing history after you’ve reset Safari or cleared out your history then use Time Machine to restore your Safari history. [...]

  2. red

    January 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Im trying to view cleared history in safari. I heard about time machine, and so went to library then safari then all these little folders popped up like safari icons, safari history, safari downloads, and etc

  3. Kim

    March 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    My problem is- can my safari history be recovered – that history.plist file – even if I did not have Time Machine set up? (and obviously no backup external hard-drive?)

    • Dan

      March 27, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      no, without a backup of the file you can't recover it. You may get lucky if you deleted it and it may still be in your Trash Can. Check there, but if its not there you're out of luck.

  4. Leah

    May 17, 2010 at 1:35 am

    this is going to sound really dense, nut how do i find the finder tool, i use this with windows xp. and i really bad on computers

  5. dan

    May 17, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Finder is not part of Windows XP, but a file system manager for Apple computers.

  6. Frank O

    November 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    wolud it be the same procedure for safari in my iphone

    • Dan

      November 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      It depends on if you're syncing Safari with your Mac, and if your iPhone backup file included Safari settings.

  7. Frank O

    November 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    ??????, anyone

  8. kall@yahoo.com

    January 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    So if somebody were on my computer and they viewed my information 1 week ago but then deleted the history right after, could Time Machine retrieve it? I don't have any external hard drives or anything hooked up.

    Additional Detail: the website I was on requires login. Other history that I have of the website if I click the link will take me to the main login page even though the whole link is being displayed.

    I would be endebted to anybody that can help me. Thank you in advance :D

    • Uzzet

      January 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      P.S. please respond on here if possible because that is an outdated e-mail I have listed. Thanks again.

      • Dan

        January 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm

        Time Machine requires you be backing up to an external or networked hard drive. WIthout it it won't have anything backed up. Sounds like you need to login to view the page.. without it, even a backup of your history won't allow you to connect

  9. Alex

    March 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    can you also do this in iphone and ipad?

  10. How do I Clear Safari Browser History on Mac

    March 30, 2012 at 1:39 am

    [...] more useful articles: Restore Safari History With Time Machine How to Uninstall Programs on Mac How to Manage Your Browsing History In Safari If you [...]

  11. yoyo

    February 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    why couldn't i set up the time capsule, when i click to set time capsule it says searching airport utility but it didn't work out, how to solve this pls ???

  12. harry

    March 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

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  13. Jas

    March 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

    If I deleted n clear my history can I get the history back on my iPad?

  14. Fabio

    March 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Doesn't work with Lion. Safari Folder under Cache disappears when I access time machine. Any ideas?

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