I'm using firefox - I've disabled any cookies (Accept cookies from sites is not ticked and the Show cookies page is empty) but no-matter what search engine I use - my clicked pages are saved! How is this possible?

For example I've searched "Hello" with ecosia, then clicked the first result and now if I search "Hello" for example even with DuckDuckGo the first result I clicked before is highlighted - how does the search engine knows?

  • 1
    Do you mean that pages you've visited before are styled differently? If so, that's a browser level thing...
    – Matthew
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:48
  • @Matthew I mean the search results I've clicked before are colored differently in the search engine results web page.
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:50
  • @FISOCPP you know that the browser itself has a History where it will save every link you click? And if you see the same link, the CSS for a visited link is on this link. Nothing with Cookies, nothing to do with some site know what you searched. Just your browser keeping history what you do.
    – Serverfrog
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:53

3 Answers 3


the first result I clicked before is highlighted - how does the search engine knows?

Visited links are highlighted because your browser keeps track of them in the browser history, not because the sites are tracking you.

There is a special CSS selector for that. When your browser renders a page, it looks for links with the :visited CSS selector and checks if the link appears in your history. If it does, the link is displayed according to the selector rules (which by default is a different text color).

The website itself cannot read this value, so it can't track that you visited the link before. (At least it's supposed to not know that you visited it. In the past there have been several vulnerabilities known as history leaks that allow websites to reverse-engineer the sites you visited.)

To stop visited links from displaying differently in Firefox, you can go to about:config and set layout.css.visited_links_enabled = false. If you don't want Firefox to keep track of visited sites at all, you can disable the browser history in your preferences under the Privacy tab.

  • I mean when I type "Hello" in for example google and it shows me the page with results, the first match I've clicked before is colored differently - how is this possible when I've disable cookies?
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:52
  • @FISOCPP, that its because no website saves anything/create any cookies to do this kind of behavior! It is only your browser itself (he will even to that you just create a simple HTML site on your local PC with an link on it and you click it.) The reason is the URL is the same as you clicked before. That the same search result is the first entry is something entire different and has much less to do with cookies than the visited link behavior .
    – Serverfrog
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:02
  • @Arminius OK - I think I understand now and thanks for the command to disable that.
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:04

You visited the URL. Your browser saves the history. That has nothing to do with cookies. Try in anonymous or private mode, or delete your history, that should work.


If you delete your browser history, the links that you've visited won't show up a different color. If you hold the Ctrl and Shift keys, and then press the delete key, you can change time range to clear to Everything. You can select which entries you want it to clear, but at the very least, you need to delete the browsing and download history. In the privacy options, you can set Firefox to limit the amount of history, not record the history, or delete the history after it is closed. You can also use a private browsing window to avoid having to change the settings.

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