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automatically remove old history

  • 26 replies
  • 13 have this problem
  • Last reply by obliviondoll

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Yes, this again.

It USED to exist, and now it doesn't. There's an add-on to provide this functionality for the many, MANY people who want this feature in spite of Mozilla's persistent claims to the contrary. I want this feature, and I can see plenty of evidence in several (closed) questions this topic that I'm not alone.

I've tried using the add-on, and not only is having to navigate to the add-ons page an unacceptable compromise, but it's also refusing to work properly on my computer anyway.

So it would be nice to have a way to restore this functionality which COMES STANDARD WITH ALMOST EVERY OTHER BROWSER.

I use Firefox because I want FULL USER CUSTOMISABILITY, and while I'm still getting many important tools that are missing from other browsers, this is a key feature that I not only want, but EXPECT from a browser with ANY degree of competently-implemented customisation.

The absence of key features like this is starting to frustrate me, and I may end up forced to use an otherwise-inferior browser to get what SHOULD be some of the most basic options.

All Replies (20)

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Hi obliviondoll, Sorry you are having problems. I am not sure I understand correctly what you are asking, but I will try my best to provide an answer.

A I am unsure what you want please try to explain it in a bit more detail. You are probably misunderstanding what you are able to do with Firefox. Instead of worrying about what is said in old threads or what problems others may have reported lets try to address and solve your problem.

You can temporarily or permanently use private browsing that does not even store History for it to need being cleared. You can set Firefox to clear history when it closes. These articles should help you understand what is possible with Firefox out of the box and without needing any addons.

Possibly the closed threads you refer to relate to an issue when Firefox had a problem as it closed down, that issue is mainly resolved. (Some issues still exist and are important enough to be listed in the Release notes as known issues fx31 )

As for the question not in the title the need to use addons sometimes that is likely to relate to development policy and be outside the scope of this forum.

Update -resolved - posts are showing now when I search

?? Forum note

For some odd reason I can not see your questions listing

Have you recently changed the display name used ? Maybe it is a cdn issue with servers needing to update still

Modified by John99

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Hi, thanks for the reply!

I don't want to use private browsing, because I WANT history to be tracked. I want Firefox to keep records of the sites I'm visiting on a daily basis, and discard anything that's sitting for more than 2 weeks.

If it would actually do what I want, I could reliably expect to type something into the address bar and get RELEVANT suggestions. Without the function I'm requesting, I get massive scrolling pages of links, most of which are sites I only visited once and never need to see again.

I understand that Firefox automatically manages history and deletes old items by itself. But it does this based on what my PC can handle. It DOESN'T do it based on my preferences, and I want it to.

As for my questions not showing up, I can't search on my profile either. It's a new account, so while not a name change, that might be causing issues. I've never needed a support account before now.

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Hi again obliviondoll, Perhaps consider an alternative workflow. That may be the best solution to your problem.

Firefox address bar sometimes referred to as the awesome bar uses a weighting system. They use the term frecency, to refer to the factor. The top results are not only ones in the history but also the ones most recently and most frequently visited. That usually means it does give the expected result and will not suggest something visited last year over something visited everyday.

How do you get massivescrolling pages of links I guess you are searching History Manually. Don't do that try the address bar instead. Note also that can be modified in various ways including by typing additional characters (possible to combine the filters)

By default the dropdown is only 6 items and another 6 if you scroll, but personally I use 20 and rarely need to search manually using the bookmarks or history libraries.

I strongly recommend you try the addressbar before getting rid of History. Additionally I would recommend you consider bookmarking some sites if they are important but rarely visited, bookmarks are more robust then History and will easily be filtered into the address bar using * Tip It also increases that URL's weighting in the frecency once bookmarked.

Also note the frecency used by the addressbar may be tweaked

If you do insist on restricting History to a ridiculously short 2 weeks then this addon will do that for you.

Your questions are showing up in the search now. Any problem was transient.

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Expire history by days {web link} Allows to expire history older than a fixed amount of days.

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As mentioned in the initial question...

"I've tried using the add-on, and not only is having to navigate to the add-ons page an unacceptable compromise, but it's also refusing to work properly on my computer anyway."

Thanks for the links, but yes, that WAS the addon I tried which doesn't seem to have any effect for no apparent reason I can find.

As for the massive scrolling, a list of 15 (not 12, at least for me) links is a lot to dig through when you're looking for "Armored Core: Verdict Day Message Board for Playstation 3" and also have "Armored Core Verdict Day Message Board for XBox 360" and several individual thread links from both of those forums in the list. Particularly frustrating on sites where every page has the same header with obscure and unintuitive URLs so you can't quickly identify which page is which once they've ended up shuffled because of "old" history from a page you visited yesterday being deleted thanks to having ALSO been visited a month ago.

And in response to "Perhaps consider an alternative workflow. That may be the best solution to your problem." - the only alternative workflow I can see working is switching to a browser that supports a really, REALLY basic functionality that I want out of a browser. Unfortunately, doing that would also require me to give up other things about Firefox which I actually like.

There is no ideal solution right now, and this question is me trying to get one to happen.

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Did you even try the address bar ?

You may be pleasantly surprised. As you use it learns. The tips mentioned in my last post can help. They so to speak teach it what you want, as you use it. If you delete history the address bar has nothing to compare to find if something is frequently used or not.

Taking the example you give above if everyday you visit

  • "Armored Core Verdict Day Message Board for XBox 360"

Just keying Ar 36 into the addressbar are will probably give that url as the first choice of 6

If you need to track posts within a forum, check what features the forum itself has to help you.


You say

"I've tried using the add-on, and not only is having to navigate to the add-ons page an unacceptable compromise, but it's also refusing to work properly on my computer anyway." 


Navigating to the add-ons page, then selecting the appropriate app to perform a function that SHOULD be built into the menus is utterly pants-on-head retarded in the first place. Then when I've navigated to the page and changed the duration Firefox saves data for, there's no "save settings" option, and simply navigating away from the page or closing it doesn't update with the changes made.
  • You do not need to navigate to the addons page.
    Other than to initially install or setup addons.
  • I personally can not help you if the addon does not work. Although you could try on the addons forum. I am sure others will say whether or not it works for them
    • Addons Forum
    • There are apparently simliar addons that could be tried.
    • I have downloaded it to see if it works for me. I note it says "Expiration happens on idle, but it's not instant.
      First expiration step may take some time and blocks UI during that time, next ones will be much smaller and should not create any issue."

You will no doubt have read the note on the addon page

Warning: the Places expiration system works to provide you the best performances in an automatic way. Using this add-on to override its functionality, may create unexpected performance problems and is not needed. Thus, unless you have clear reasons to need the functionality exposed by this add-on, you should not use it.   

Please attach a screenshot of the history search and the address bar search so I can see better what is happening.

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I did try the addon Expire history by days . It worked as expected. I posted a review

I actually tested it in Firefox 34 as

  • If it works in Fx 34 it almost certainly will work in Fx31 to Fx34
  • I happened to have Fx34 running with a profile I did not mind expiring History on
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Here's the quote you botched put back into context:

"Particularly frustrating on sites where every page has the same header with obscure and unintuitive URLs"


Yes, you can use the description instead of the obscure and unintuitive URL. Except when the description is EXACTLY THE SAME FOR EVERY PAGE ON THE SITE. I can quickly navigate to the right website, but finding the specific page I want? Not so much. I'm regularly visiting the main forum page for many sites, so I CAN quickly view that as long as it's actually kept as an up-to-date history item.

On literally any browser that isn't Firefox, I can open my history and check the most recent day I looked up a site I'm curious about, and with a vague non-specific memory of what it was about, it's easy to find the link. In Firefox, unless I remember the EARLIEST visit I've made to that page, I'm not going to find it in my history, because the way it stores history is weird and unintuitive.

On literally any browser that isn't Firefox, I can tell the browser to auto-delete history that's more than a month old, and any site that I haven't visited for a month will stop showing up as a suggestion. Firefox doesn't let me do that. It deletes what it FEELS LIKE deleting. Until it chooses to delete something, I can EITHER sit and wait and watch it repeatedly show up in suggestions until the browser eventually, MONTHS DOWN THE TRACK, realises it's old, or try and manually find and delete the unwanted site that I may have visited a week or two ago and can't find in history, AND can't shortcut my way to by selecting it then bumping it forward in the history to make it easier to clear.

And as for the add-on, if I ever decide I want to let things sit for longer than a month after setting it up, YES, I WOULD HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE ADDON PAGE instead of doing what makes sense and going to the tools/options and checking out the history section under privacy. And if I want to cut back to 2 weeks, once again, GOING TO ADDON PAGE INSTEAD OF WHAT MAKES SENSE.

That is of course, assuming it ACTUALLY WORKED, which for me, IT DOESN'T. Great that it does for you. On my machine, I can't get it to save any changes I make. NOTHING. WORKS. I change the settings, and it doesn't have a save button, and navigating away from the page doesn't save what I entered.

The addon doesn't work on my machine. I don't know why. I just know it doesn't work. Even if it did, AS I ALREADY SAID, it's not an effective solution for me. An ACTUAL solution of providing basic functionality that I could get from any other browser would be an effective solution. And one that I know I'm not alone in asking for.

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You obviously do not appreciate my attempts to help so; after this post; I will leave you in peace to use Firefox as you wish and with unsolved problems that would appear to have plausible solutions or workarounds. (N.B. also unresolved /questions/1013098)

You do not need to go back to the addon page. You set it once and for all as 7days, 30days 180 days or whatever and it does it in the background as Firefox is idle deleting the old History WITHOUT deleting a more recent visit to that page. It does not have a save button it simply operates using the last value that was entered. Not that I (or the addon developer !) understand why people need or want that addon feature especially if they understand how frecency works and the potential advantage of bookmarks and tags.

if the addon does not work for you take it up in the addons forum. All I can say is that I installed and tried the addon specifically because you said it did not work, and it did work for me.

You possibly are still not taking full advantage of the frecency weighting or the ability to search from the addressbar by for instance title or bookmark.

There is no point in trying to argue about Firefox development decisions or feature requests here all we are just fellow Firefox users trying to help one another.

Modified by John99

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Lets say I set it as 30 days.


Maybe I have it set to 7 days and am going on holiday for a week. Do I want to lose my entire history? Nope. So I guess I should increase it to 14 days or so. Time to check the options menu - NOPE.

Do I go to the logical place where I would EXPECT to find the option to change how long my browser keeps track of its history? No. I go to the addons page. Because that makes logical sense, when it's a simple, almost universally available function for a browser to provide. Firefox is literally the ONLY browser that DOESN'T give users this option.

I don't know why the addon won't work for me. I've looked at everything I can think of, and haven't found a way to make it work. Every time I went to the addons page and checked the settings, it had a 0 entered to not delete any history, and no matter what I've done, the number I enter never saves. After several days of it not working, I deleted the addon and reinstalled it, and the same thing happened. That being... nothing.

Also, as I've mentioned, typing in part of what I want to find in the address bar is fine when pages have unique identifiers, but for a website that DOESN'T provide that, how am I supposed to know which of the FULL LIST OF 12+ PAGES WITH THE EXACT SAME NAME is the one I want to open? Because it's the one I've visited most often? At ONCE for each page? Yeah. Doesn't work so well. Because it has a distinctive URL? Not always...

I know this is where users are posting help for one another, and I do appreciate your efforts. But I also know that this decision is baffling to me, that I'm not the only person to feel that way, and that multiple questions have been asked regarding this issue.

It's great that there's an addon to help people with this issue. If it worked for me, I would have been using it instead of posting this discussion.

And yeah, IF THERE WAS A PROPER CONTACT METHOD AVAILABLE, I would be contacting Mozilla directly instead of posting here. Unfortunately, that ALSO isn't an option. The next best alternative is to post on the OFFICIAL SUPPORT SITE and hope that someone working for the company notices the issue along with the unofficial help from friendly users such as yourself.

I'm not meaning to downplay your help here, but it simply isn't resolving the issue. The addon isn't working on my browser, and the problem is still a problem. To a certain degree, the problem would still persist even if I could get the addon to work properly, although it would be significantly less troublesome.

My other issue is also NOT being resolved by the provided workarounds. If the workaround provided was actually doing what it has done for some other users, then I would have accepted the solution and moved on with my problem solved. Unfortunately, with no solution that actually addresses the problem, I'm forced to keep the question open and wait for a solution that actually works for me. I've provided all the information requested on the other question, and tried what had been suggested, and it doesn't fix the problem. For completeness, and to make sure it's not a corrupt install causing both problems and somehow not revealing itself with the Troubleshooting Information Page copy I posted, I've deleted and reinstalled Firefox. It still doesn't work.

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Open a new window or tab. In the address bar, type about:config. If a warning screen comes up, press the Be Careful button. This is where Firefox finds information it needs to run. At the top of the screen is a search bar.

Enter extensions.bonardonet.expire-history-by-days.days and tell me what the value is.

Some add-ons have been known to interfere with other add-ons.

In a new tab or window address bar, type about:support and press Enter. Under the main banner, press the button; Copy Text To Clipboard.. Then in the reply box at the bottom of this page, do a right click in the box and select Paste.

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Searched for extensions.bonardonet.expire-history-by-days.days

No entry found. When I enter it into search, the page goes blank.

Cut down to extensions.bonardonet.expire-history-by-days and found the following:

extensions.bonardonet.expire-history-by-days.disable_expiration Status: user set Type: boolean Value: false

And the about:support details:

Application Basics

Name: Firefox Version: 31.0 User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.2; WOW64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/31.0

Crash Reports for the Last 3 Days

All Crash Reports (including 1 pending crash in the given time range)


Name: Expire history by days Version: 1.1 Enabled: true ID:


Adapter Description: Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600 Adapter Description (GPU #2): NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M Adapter Drivers: igdumdim64 igd10iumd64 igd10iumd64 igdumdim32 igd10iumd32 igd10iumd32 Adapter Drivers (GPU #2): nvd3dumx,nvwgf2umx,nvwgf2umx nvd3dum,nvwgf2um,nvwgf2um Adapter RAM: Unknown Adapter RAM (GPU #2): 4095 ClearType Parameters: Gamma: 2200 Pixel Structure: R ClearType Level: 100 Enhanced Contrast: 200 Device ID: 0x0416 Device ID (GPU #2): 0x0fe4 Direct2D Enabled: true DirectWrite Enabled: true (6.2.9200.16581) Driver Date: 8-26-2013 Driver Date (GPU #2): 7-2-2014 Driver Version: Driver Version (GPU #2): GPU #2 Active: false GPU Accelerated Windows: 1/1 Direct3D 10 Vendor ID: 0x8086 Vendor ID (GPU #2): 0x10de WebGL Renderer: Google Inc. -- ANGLE (Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600 Direct3D9Ex vs_3_0 ps_3_0) windowLayerManagerRemote: false AzureCanvasBackend: direct2d AzureContentBackend: direct2d AzureFallbackCanvasBackend: cairo AzureSkiaAccelerated: 0

Important Modified Preferences

accessibility.typeaheadfind.flashBar: 0 browser.cache.disk.capacity: 358400 browser.cache.disk.smart_size_cached_value: 358400 browser.cache.disk.smart_size.enabled: false browser.cache.disk.smart_size.first_run: false browser.cache.disk.smart_size.use_old_max: false browser.cache.frecency_experiment: 1 browser.places.smartBookmarksVersion: 7 false browser.sessionstore.restore_on_demand: false browser.sessionstore.upgradeBackup.latestBuildID: 20140716183446 browser.startup.homepage: about:blank browser.startup.homepage_override.buildID: 20140716183446 browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone: 31.0 dom.mozApps.used: true extensions.lastAppVersion: 31.0 font.internaluseonly.changed: true gfx.direct3d.last_used_feature_level_idx: 0 network.cookie.prefsMigrated: true places.database.lastMaintenance: 1407500359 places.history.expiration.transient_current_max_pages: 104858 plugin.disable_full_page_plugin_for_types: application/pdf plugin.importedState: true privacy.donottrackheader.enabled: true privacy.sanitize.migrateFx3Prefs: true storage.vacuum.last.index: 1 storage.vacuum.last.places.sqlite: 1406238699


Incremental GC: true


Activated: true Prevent Accessibility: 0

Library Versions

NSPR Expected minimum version: 4.10.6 Version in use: 4.10.6

NSS Expected minimum version: 3.16.2 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.16.2 Basic ECC

NSSSMIME Expected minimum version: 3.16.2 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.16.2 Basic ECC

NSSSSL Expected minimum version: 3.16.2 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.16.2 Basic ECC

NSSUTIL Expected minimum version: 3.16.2 Version in use: 3.16.2

Experimental Features

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Sorry for not responding earlier, support has been having trouble with sending out the alerts.

At this point, I am at a lose. If you want, you can look for another add-on.

Go to the Mozilla Add-ons Web Page {web link} (There’s a lot of good stuff here) and search for what you want.

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It may be worth as a test trying an additional new profile. The troubleshooting information is slightly restricted and does not show all preferences. Have a go with the History add on in a new profile see if that works when you install the addon in a new profile

You could even try manually recreating the pref you need that may work if the problem was that it was accidentally deleted but uninstalling and reinstalling the addon is probably better.

As I have said repeatedly Firefox does not actually need to expire by days because if you search from the address bar it will show recent and frequent urls first and it will learn as you use the address bar. Deleting History prevents it learning and you get worse results.

Consider tags or bookmarks to help you, and the options to change filers on the fly. You can try and work with Firefox features, but there is no point at all coming here to complain about development it does not help because there is no involved with the decisions on this forum.

As fred says try another addon that may work.

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First thing - tried a new profile. Same thing as before. Addon doesn't work, and history remains unwanted but untouched.

So I took the alternative advice, and found another addon that looked promising, called "History Janitor" with the reviews suggesting to use the "Delete History By Days" addon instead because it doesn't work. Or it only works with very limited settings and most possible entered numbers wouldn't register. Since it was literally the only other addon I could find that was remotely relevant to what I wanted, I tried it anyway.

...And it deleted history records that were created past the specified date, NOT entries that have been most recently visited past that date. So basically, it destroyed the record of all sites I visit regularly. Thanks for encouraging me to try other addons, guys -_- I now have to start from scratch on visiting the sites I want to see in my address bar.

There is one thing necessary for me to be willing to accept that this issue is resolved. I need the ability to reproduce what the "Delete History By Days" addon is SUPPOSED to do.

There is an alternative solution which I would be willing to accept, but have also been unable to find in any addon. If history could be sorted by MOST RECENT access date, instead of being sorted by EARLIEST recorded access date, then I could manually delete old history and be confident that it's only deleting old history that I no longer care to have clogging up my system and my address bar, rather than deleting something the system says is 6 months old, but which is actually a site I visited 5 minutes ago.

Ideally, this issue should be resolved by Mozilla ACTUALLY REALISING PEOPLE WANT THESE FEATURES and including them in a near-future update for Firefox. Failing that, if someone can create a new addon that WORKS, preferably one that does BOTH the removal of old history AND the resorting of the history menu for a more helpful and sane chronology, I'd love to see it linked here. Or if there are two addons to cover these functions, and they're compatible with one another, that could work too. I've tried searching for addons to provide these features, and so far, have had precisely ZERO luck. If anyone knows of any, or is working on them, please let me know.

What would be really great is if there was a way to actually include these functions where they SHOULD be, in the "history" section of the menu for Firefox. These should be standard features LIKE THEY ARE IN EVEN TERRIBLE ALTERNATIVE BROWSERS I COULD BE USING. Having basic, logical and sane functions available for users who want to DO WHAT FIREFOX IS MEANT TO SUPPORT and personalise our browsing experience. Including those features in a logical and sane place. I'm not asking for anything unreasonable here.


Modified by obliviondoll

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Open the history folder ( Control Shift H ). Look at the display. It can sort via the column identifiers ( Name / Location . . . . ). Also, look on the far left. Do you see the tree ? ( Today / Yesterday / Last 7 . . . . ). Pick the last branch, and right click. Look at the options.

Modified by FredMcD

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Open the history folder. Like I have done multiple times before.

Sort by identifiers. I want to sort by date last visited. Unless I click one of the identifiers to sort by, it automatically sorts by date. Unfortunately, it sorts by the OLDEST date the item was viewed, not the NEWEST like I want it to.

On the far right is NOTHING. On the far LEFT is the tree you're talking about, which is EXACTLY the one I had been trying to use (and unable to get the results I wanted). Right click on any of the branches, it doesn't matter which, and I get nothing of any use at all. I can copy the entire contents of any section, or the entire contents of my history. I can open them all in new tabs. But I cant change how they sort my history.

If I go back to July and look at my history for that month, there are plenty of sites listed which I've visited this month. If I bring up a page that I visited last month, then check my history again, it will still be listed in July, AND it won't be listed under Today, or This Week, no matter how many times I've visited the page within those timeframes. If I delete July's records, I delete that entry, even though I visited the page today. I lose the ability to quickly navigate to the page via the address bar.

I want a way to fix that.

Modified by obliviondoll

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Unfortunately, it sorts by the OLDEST date As with file explorers, click the identifier again to reverse the sort order.

On the far right is NOTHING My bad. I meant the left side, but you found it anyway.

Right click on any of the branches, nothing of any use at all Look at the screen shot. Does yours look like this? The last entry is Delete.

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Back up your file places.sqlite if you wish to be able to restore History. That is the database file that stores History and Bookmarks'

If experimenting use the spare additional test profile that you created and overwrite the file places.sqlite with a copy of the backup so you can do test work using a spare disposable copy.

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Yes, I can delete the "last 7 days" entry. Or any other timeframe listed. THAT ISN'T WHAT I'M ASKING FOR. I ALREADY KNOW I CAN DO THAT.

Click the identifier again to sort in reverse order? Not only is there NO "DATE" IDENTIFIER TO CLICK (it's the default method of sorting, not a selectable option), but even if there was, REVERSE ORDER DOESN'T SOLVE THE ISSUE OF HOW THE ORDER IS CREATED.

I'll try (again) to explain.

1. I visit a website on 11 July 2014. An entry is created in Firefox's history. 2. I visit the site regularly over the next few months. 3. On 30 September 2014, I decide to delete my old history, go back to the history section labeled "July", right-click, and select "delete". 4. A website I had visited literally THAT SAME DAY is removed from my history because it was the page listed in point 1, and my FIRST visit to that site was on 11 July.

I want the OPTION to have Firefox sort my history by MOST RECENT VISIT. This means that if I visit a webpage today, it will be filed under TODAY'S history, regardless of how many days, weeks, months or years in the past I've also visited that same page. If I check my history in 5 minutes' time after leaving this page, I want it to be the first (most recent) entry for today. I don't want to have to go back to search through all of last month's history because it's more than 7 days old and wasn't created this month. I'm on the page RIGHT NOW. And if I decide to go back and delete the history for last month, I DON'T want to be losing this entry because I've visited the page multiple times since last month.

Reversing the order in which history items created in July are shown doesn't remove the history items visited in August from the July section of the history page. Deleting history for July doesn't retain history items which have originally been visited in July but have ALSO been visited in August. Deleting history for June deletes every page that was visited in June, regardless of whether it's been visited again more recently or not. I want a way to change that behaviour, and I can't find it.

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