The other day you were doing an important search on the Net, using Google Chrome, your favorite browser. You were busy with a thousand other things, but forgot to save links to the web pages you were interested in. You were hoping to be able to trace the information you found by consulting the history, but ... to complicate the situation further your brother, who has thought well to do a little 'healthy cleaning on the PC, deleting it!
The situation, there is little to do, is quite tragic. It couldn't get any worse, it's true! Nevertheless, I don't think you should give up yet. Before you throw in the towel for good, you should try to recover Chrome's deleted history. I beg your pardon? You want me to tell you how to do that? No problem. I'd be happy to.
Give me a few minutes of your precious free time and discover, together with me, how to try to recover the history deleted from Chrome on both Windows and MacOS. I'll let you know right away that you have several functions and tools at your disposal to succeed, including some mobile solutions. You can also retrieve only the history of searches made on Google, using a special function made available directly by "big G". Clearly I can't guarantee a 100% success, but there are many ways to do it. I have nothing left to do, therefore, other than wish you good reading and good luck with everything!
Restoring Chrome's history from backup
First of all, let's try to figure out how to recover the deleted Google browser history using the backup features offered by Windows and macOS.
If the one you are using is a Windows PC, you can recover the Chrome history you deleted using the Shadow Copy feature included in the latest versions of Microsoft's operating system, which allows you to manually or automatically create backup copies of files, folders and volumes at a given time (you can find more information about this in my post on how to restore the previous version of a file).
To use it, first open the File Explorer by clicking on the yellow folder on the Windows tatskbar, then enable the viewing of hidden files by following the instructions I provided in my tutorial dedicated to the topic and select the item This PC or Computer (depending on the version of Windows used) located in the left side bar.
Now, double-click the Users folder, then the folder with your username and then the AppData folder. Now, open the Local folder, double-click the Google folder and the Chrome folder.
To finish, right-click on the User Data folder, select Properties from the menu that opens, go to the Previous Versions tab in the window that appears, select the previous version of the folder you want to restore (taking into account the date from which you want to recover the Chrome history) and click the Restore button twice in a row.
Wait a few moments for the restore operation to start and complete, then start Chrome by calling the program from the Start menu, click on the button ⋮ at the top right, select History > History from the menu that opens and you will finally have access to the browser history that was previously deleted. That was easy, wasn't it?
Are you using macOS? Then you can recover Chrome history using the "power" of Time Machine, the backup system built into Macs. Obviously, in order to use it, it is essential that the feature has been previously enabled and configured on your computer.
Once you've done the above, the first step you need to take to succeed is to press and hold down the alt key on your computer keyboard, select the Go item on the menu bar and choose the Library item from the menu that opens.
In the Finder window that you will be shown, locate and open the Application Support folder, then the Google folder and then the Chrome folder, then double-click the Default folder.
At your location, locate the Histroy file and open Time Machine by clcing the Histroy icon (the green clock) attached to the Launchpad (which you can call up by pressing the space rocket icon on the Dock bar).
Then, use the side timeline to indicate the exact date from which you want to retrieve your deleted Chrome history, then click on the History file above and press the Restore button to restore it.
Wait, now, for the recovery process to start and complete (it should take a few moments), then start Chrome by calling the program from Launchpad, press the button ⋮ in the upper right corner, select the items History > History from the menu that opens and ... you can finally see all the history of the browser you previously deleted.
Tools to recover Chrome's deleted history
If the above indications haven't given the hoped-for result, you can try to recover Chrome's deleted history on your PC using some dedicated tools.
EaseUS Data Recovery (Windows/macOS)
An excellent tool available to try to recover Chrome's history (as well as other data removed from the computer) is EaseUS Data Recovery: it is a free software that allows you to recover up to a maximum of 2GB of data (to get around this limitation, you need to upgrade to the paid version, starting from 81.36 euros). It is compatible with both Windows and MacOS.
To download it to your Windows PC, connect to its website and click the Free Download button in the middle. When the download is complete, open the obtained .exe file and press the Yes button. In the window that opens, click the OK button first, then the Next button and the Accept button. Next, click on the Confirm, Install and Complete buttons to finish the setup.
If you are using macOS, connect to this other page of the EaseUS Data Recovery website and click on the Free trial button. Next, open the resulting .dmg package, drag and drop the program icon into the MacOS Applications folder, right-click on it and select Open twice in a row, so that the software will start, but will bypass Apple's limitations on non-certified developers' applications (which only needs to be done the first time you start the software).
Now that you see the main window of the software, click on the button to select a specific folder and, through the window that opens, select the path on your computer that I indicated at the beginning of the guide, related to the Chrome history. Next, click the Scan button (on Windows) or the Scan button (on macOS).
When the analysis is complete, you will be shown the complete list of files that can be recovered. To proceed with the recovery, tick the Google history folder (you can help with the File Explorer or Finder on the left), click the Recover button (on Windows) or the Recover Now button (on macOS), indicate where you want to save it, press the Save button (on Windows) or Save button (on macOS) and wait until the process is complete.
When recovery is complete, replace the current Chrome history folder with the recovered one, then open the browser, press the button ⋮ in the top right corner, select History > History from the menu that opens and you will finally have access to the history that was deleted.
Note: Since macOS 10.13, Apple has introduced a special security system called System Integrity Protection (SIP), which aims to protect the integrity of the OS. This system prevents EaseUS Data Recovery from acting on the hard disk on which macOS is installed. To deal with this, it must be temporarily disabled. To do so, start the system in recovery mode by holding down the cmd+r keys on the keyboard, then go to the Utility menu at the top and select the Terminal item from the Terminal. Then, type the csrutil disable command; reboot into the Terminal, enter and wait for the Mac to restart. To reactivate SIP, you must follow the same procedure, but give the command csrutil disable; enable.
As an alternative to the above mentioned software, if you're using Windows, you can recover the history deleted from Google Chrome using BrowsingHistoryView, a free, no-install and easy to use program specifically designed for the purpose of this tutorial.
In addition to being compatible with the web search giant's browser, BrowsingHistoryView is also able to work with all other popular online browsing programs, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. It should be noted that, similar to the backup functionality seen together in the previous lines, to be able to recover the deleted history, the program will take advantage of the Shadow Copies.
You're asking me how to do that? I'll tell you right now: First, link to the program's website, then scroll down and click the Download BrowsingHistoryView 64-bit (if you're using 64-bit Windows) or the Download BrowsingHistoryView (if you're using 32-bit Windows) link.
At this point, extract both the obtained ZIP archives, make sure that the BrowsingHistoryView_lng file and the BrowsingHistoryView.exe file in them are in the same location and start the latter by double-clicking on it.
In the window that opens on your desktop at this point, leave a tick only on the box next to Chrome, in the Web browsers section, indicating the reference period of your search using the From and to drop-down menus at the top, or choose one of the options available in the Filter by date/time view drop-down menu and press the OK button at the bottom right.
Wait, then, a few moments and in the program window you will be shown all the pages that you visited with Chrome and that were deleted from the browser history, with date and time, plus various other useful information (you can find them in the columns in the middle of the window).
Then select the item you are interested in from the list, right-click on it and choose, from the menu that opens, the Open URL option in your web browser to access the referring web page again. If you want, you can also save all the "exhumed" history in a text file by clicking on the button with the floppy disk on the toolbar and indicating the name you want to assign to the document and where to save it, using the additional window that opens.
Retrieve the deleted Chrome history on smartphones and tablets
If you were logged into Chrome with your Google account, you can succeed in the task of recovering history on smartphones and tablets using the Takeout service, which allows you to download an archive containing the pages visited through your browser.
To use it for your purpose, connect to the service's web page, log in with your Google account, press the Unselect All button, scroll through the list until you find the Chrome entry and turn the relevant switch to ON.
Now, move the toggle next to All Chrome Data Types to ON, check the box next to select Chrome Data, press the Chrome Data button, only check the box next to BrowserHistory, and press the OK button.
Now, press the Next button at the bottom and the Create Archive button and wait for Google to complete the process of creating the archive with all your data (this could take hours).
When the process is completed, you will receive an email containing the download link of the created archive (in ZIP format), which will contain the entire history of navigation made through Chrome. Please note that the history file is in JSON format: however, you can convert it to PDF, so that you can consult it without problems.
Note: You can also use Google Takeout to retrieve Chrome history from your computer. The steps you need to take are pretty much the same as those seen together earlier for the mobile side. The JSON file that will be sent to you via email can also be converted to PDF.
Retrieving Google search history
As I told you at the beginning of the article, I think I should also explain how to display and, therefore, retrieve the history of searches made on Google. It might be particularly useful if none of the previous solutions helped you.
Please note, however, that you can only use this feature if you are logged in with your Google account from Chrome and only if you have used Google as your search engine. Consider then that, browser aside, if you have logged in to other browsers and if you have done searches with Google on them, you will see the history of searches done there too.
Having said that, to retrieve Google's search history, start Chrome, go to the Google account management page and login if necessary. Then click the Manage Your Google Activities link (from your computer) or click Personal Data and Privacy (from your smartphone and tablet), then click the Manage Your Google Activities link and the Go to My Activities link attached to the Review Activity box (from your computer), or select My Activities (from your smartphone and tablet).
You will then be shown all searches made through Google up to the current time. By default, searches are sorted chronologically and displayed in groups. If you prefer, you can view your searches by item by clicking the [...] button at the top right and the View by item item item item from the menu that opens.
You can also use the Search Filters to see what you're interested in more easily by pressing the Filter by Date and Product button at the top. If you want to search for specific content by keywords, type the keyword in the top bar and press the Enter key on your keyboard.