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Firefox stores my search history, but I would like to know exactly what it is storing. So is there a file or something where these entries are logged? Also is there a way of disabling the search history?

I am already aware that one can disable search and form history in the Preferences, but I am only looking to disable search history. Is this possible?

I am running Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 with GNOME 3.20.

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Disable the search history

Update: It looks like there is no way to record the form history and disregard the search history at the same time. To change the setting for both:

Open the Firefox Preferences and open the Privacy panel.

Use custom settings for history
(source: mozilla.net)

>

When Firefox will is set to Use custom settings for history, the following settings will be available:

[…]

  • Remember search and form history: If selected, the text you enter into form […] the search bar will be remembered so you can use those entries again. […]

(source: Settings for privacy, browsing history and do-not-track: Use custom settings for history)

Delete the search history

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu, choose History, and then Clear Recent History….

  2. Select how much history you want to clear:

    • Click the drop-down menu next to Time range to clear to choose how much of your history Firefox will clear.

      History Lin2

    • Next, click the arrow next to Details to select exactly what information will get cleared. Your choices are described in the What things are included in my history? section above.

      History Lin3 Fx11

  3. Finally, click the Clear Now button. The window will close and the items you've selected will be cleared.

(source: Delete browsing, search and download history on Firefox: How do I clear my history?)

Reviewing the search history

How do I find my profile?

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu, click help Help-29 and select Troubleshooting Information. The Troubleshooting Information tab will open.
  2. Under the Application Basics section, click on Open Directory. A window with your profile files will open.
Finding your profile without opening Firefox
  1. (Ubuntu) Click the Places menu on the top right of the screen and select Home Folder. A File Browser window will appear.
  2. Click the View menu and select Show Hidden Files if it isn't already checked.
  3. Double click the folder marked .mozilla.
  4. Double click the folder marked firefox. Your profile folder is within this folder. If you only have one profile, its folder would have default in the name.

What information is stored in my profile?

[…]

  • Autocomplete history: The formhistory.sqlite file remembers what you have searched for in the Firefox search bar and what information you’ve entered into forms on websites. […]

(source: Profiles - Where Firefox stores your bookmarks, passwords and other user data)

Since Firefox stores the (search) history in an SQLite database file you'll need an SQLite database editor to view or manipulate them. It is critical that you do not do this on Firefox profiles that are currently in use by a running Firefox instance.

I'll list a few suitable editors below:

  • sqlite3 – Command line interface for SQLite 3
  • sqlitebrowser – GUI editor for SQLite databases
  • sqliteman – GUI tool for SQLite3 admin and developers alike

Can I view Firefox history with the terminal? has some info on how to use the command-line tool sqlite3 to view Firefox' profile database files.

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Firefox stores information in three different files basically (possible to have more), places.sqlite (for the bookmarks and sites you have visited), formhistory.sqlite (autocomplete history) and downloads.sqlite (all your downloads). (Personally have encountered cookies.sqlite too)

To find these files, run the following command first

cd ~/.mozilla/firefox/

and then use ls -a to see the directory similar to this 6s2tk6wx.default

go to the directory with cd command

using ls -l | sed -n '/\.sqlite$/p' command in the directory lists the .sqlite files on your system

Note that the files are not simple files containing text, but rather database files in sqlite format. You can downdload the newest version of sqlite program to find out what's inside the files.

How to use that, see the link below (The whole thing with more detail)

Can I view Firefox history with the terminal?

Hope this answer your first question

  • This gives me a pointer for finding the file, but it doesn't answer my question of how to disable search history. Nor does it tell me the actual file. – user364819 Jul 27 '16 at 17:42
  • Disabling JUST search history may be pretty hard thing to do. Since places.sqlite file that contains visited pages also contains more stuff such as bookmarks. I wonder if there is a way (script) to prevent Firefox from creating a new equivalent file after deleting the old one, so Firefox basically couldn't store that information anymore. – jiipeezz Jul 27 '16 at 18:19
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I do not know where the history is stored, but you can turn search history off if you click on the three bars on the far left of the menu bar, then press preferences, and navigate to the privacy section. Here, you can turn off history and request that sites don't track you.

  • Is there not a way of turning it off without touching the form history? I have updated my question. – user364819 Jul 27 '16 at 17:17

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