Google knows a lot about you, probably more than your significant other. That’s because the search engine giant stores everything that you have ever searched using Chrome, Google search, Maps, YouTube, etc.
It knows about your embarrassing searches, your weird passions, the adult sites that you visit, and all the things that you want to keep behind the doors. And don’t think for a second that this extensive tracking does not extend to Incognito mode in web browsers. In fact, Google is facing a whopping $5 billion lawsuit for that.
So, the question is what you can do about it. Well, for starters, you can start cleaning up your Google search history. And I don’t mean deleting the browser history because that will only remove the data that’s locally stored on your device — In this article, we will tell you how to delete your search history from Google servers.
Let’s get started:
Use Google Takeout to download your Data
Since you are planning to permanently clear your Google search history, it is imperative that you download your Google data in case a problem occurs. You can do this with the help of Google’s Takeout feature —
1. Go to the Google Takeout page and click on Deselect all.
(You can also download all your Google data if you plan to delete your activity on other Google services)
2. Tick My Activity. Scroll down and click on Next Step
3. Choose the file size and whether you want it to be delivered to your email, drive, etc.
4. Wait for the export process to be completed. This can take several minutes to a few hours depending upon the size of the data.
5. Click on Create Export and then download your Google search history.
How to remove your Google search history?
1. Go to the My Activity page.
(On Android, go to Settings > Google > Manage your Google Account > Data and Personalization > My Activity)
2. Click on Filter by date & product.
3. Choose a time period or select “Always” if you want to remove all your Google search history.
4. Tick Search below and click on Apply.
5. Back on the Google My Activity page, click on the Delete button.
6. Once again, click on Delete.
This will permanently delete your search history for a set time period. Note that deleting your search history won’t remove all your Chrome search history. That’s particularly true if you use Google search in a different web browser such as Mozilla, Opera, etc.
If you want to delete your search activity of other Google services such as Chrome, YouTube, etc., simply select the product under the Filter Date & Product and follow the same steps above.
You can click on the item view in the top left corner if you want to remove a particular query from your search history.
Say you want a clean slate, i.e., you wish to delete all your search history from all Google products. Then, click on Delete Activity By located in the menu on the left. Select Always, click on Next, then click on Delete.
I would suggest thinking it through as this is an irreversible process. There is no denying that Google collects insane amounts of user data, but apart from sharing it with advertisers, it is also used to improve the user experience. But that’s a debate for another time.
How to stop Google from collecting search history?
Okay! You have cleared your Google search history but how do you prevent Google from tracking search history in the first place?
Thankfully, you can turn off Google search history. Here’s how to do it —
- Click on Web and app activity on the My Activity Page or go directly to the Activity Controls page.
- Toggle off Web and app activity.
- Click on Pause in the Pause Web & App Activity confirmation prompt.
TIP: Have you ever wondered how Google knows about your queries even though you have deleted your Chrome browsing history? That’s because the “Include Chrome history and other activity…” option under Web and app activity is on by default. If you untick it, your Google Chrome browsing history won’t be synced with your Google account anymore.
Instead of turning off the Web and App Activity, you also have the option to set it to auto-deletion of activity. In my opinion, this is the best bet if you care about both Google’s personalized results and your privacy.
While you are on the Activity Controls, you can also turn the toggle off for YouTube search history, location history, and Ad personalization.
What else can you do?
We all know that Google data tracking runs deep. Even if you remove the search history from Google services, chances are Google might still be able to track you. That’s because it’s Google! Also, you would still be running Android (owned by Google) and you would still run your Google account.
On the brighter side, consider clearing your Google search history as your first step in getting rid of Google. And over time, you can switch to Google products’ alternatives and maybe one day remove your Google account altogether.
If you are planning to embark on the path of de-googling yourself, the below guides might come in handy —