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Windows 7 : Configuring Internet Explorer Security - Enhancing Your Browsing Privacy (part 2) - Clearing the Address Bar List

12/10/2010 9:12:41 AM

Clearing the Address Bar List

Another part of Internet Explorer’s AutoComplete feature involves the web addresses that you type into the address bar. When you start typing a URL into the address bar, Internet Explorer displays a list of addresses that match what you’ve typed. If you see the one you want, use the arrow keys to select it, and then press Enter to surf to it.

That’s mighty convenient, but not very private because other people who have access to your PC can also see those addresses. So another excellent way to enhance your privacy is to clear the address bar list so that no URLs appear as you type.

One way to clear the address bar list is to clear the history files, as described in the previous section. That is, you select Safety, Delete Browsing History, activate the History check box, deactivate all the other check boxes, and then click Delete.

Note

You can configure Internet Explorer to not save the web addresses that you type. Select Tools, Internet Options, select the Content tab, and then click Settings in the AutoComplete group. In the AutoComplete Settings dialog box, deactivate the Address Bar check box to stop saving typed URLs. Click OK in all open dialog boxes.


That works well, but it also means that you lose all your browsing history. That might be exactly what you want, but you may prefer to preserve the history files. In this section, I show you a script that removes the address bar URLs but lets you save your history.

First, note that Internet Explorer stores the last 25 typed URLs in the following Registry key (see Figure 3):

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs

Figure 3. The last 25 addresses you typed into the address bar are stored in the TypedURLs Registry key.


You can therefore clear the address bar list by closing all Internet Explorer windows and deleting the settings url1 through url25 in this key. Listing 1 presents a script that does this for you.

Note

The file containing the script in Listing 1—DeleteTypedURLs.vbs—is available from my website at www.mcfedries.com/Windows7Unleashed/.


Listing 1. A Script That Deletes Internet Explorer’s Typed URLs
Option Explicit
Dim objWshShell, nTypedURLs, strRegKey, strURL, i
Set objWshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
On Error Resume Next
'
' First determine the number of typed URLs in the Registry
'
nTypedURLs = 0
strRegKey = "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs\"
Do While True
'
' Read the next typed URL
'
strURL = objWshShell.RegRead(strRegKey & "url" & nTypedURLs + 1)
'
' If we get an error, it means we've read all
' the typed URLs, so exit the loop
If Err <> 0 Then
Exit Do
End If
nTypedURLs = nTypedURLs + 1
Loop
'
' Run through the typed URLs
'
For i = 1 to nTypedURLs
'
' Delete the Registry setting
'
objWshShell.RegDelete strRegKey & "url" & i
Next 'i
objWshShell.Popup "Finished deleting " & nTypedURLs & _
" typed URLs", , "Delete Typed URLs"


This script begins by running through all the settings in the TypedURLs key, and counts them as it goes. This is necessary because there may not be the full 25 typed URLs in the key, and if you try to delete a nonexistent Registry key, you get an error. With the number of typed URLs in hand, the script then performs a second loop that deletes each Registry setting.

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