How to Delete Your Google History

If you are one of the people who participates in over 3.5 billion Google searches per day,then you likely rely on the popular search engine to answer a wide range of questions. With the growth of things like personal assistant devices and voice search, it’s incredibly easy to get an answer to almost any question that may enter your mind.

What happens after you have processed a search, though? Does it simply disappear into the ether, never to be seen or heard from again? It may come as a shock to many that Google search history can linger on your devices and profiles long after you have received your answer. With privacy concerns becoming top-of-mind for internet users around the world, Google search history has become a popular topic of discussion. This is especially true if you have ever searched sensitive, personal questions like medical or financial topics.

While others can’t easily see what topics you have searched in the past, if you are using a shared device then this search history is readily available for anyone to see. That can be an alarming wake up call. Luckily, there are several methods to purge your Google search history and keep your searches between you and Google.

This article will break down some of the methods you can use across various devices and browsers to clear out your Google search history and take back control of your own privacy. The good news is that these methods are very easy to follow and, with our step-by-step guide, you can delete your Google history in just a few minutes.

Clearing browser history

One of the first steps most people think of when trying to delete their Google history is to delete their browser history. This is a good first step to take but it won’t fully take care of the job if you were hoping to make your Google search history appear empty to others who may be using your device. After you have cleared your browser history, you will want to follow some of the steps further below in this article to make sure you have done a complete cleaning of your Google search history.

One of the most popular browsers is the Google Chrome browser. Here is how you can clear your browser history if you are using Chrome:

  • Near the top right of the browser window, click the three vertical dots to open a selection menu
  • Click on “Settings” to bring up some more advanced options
  • At the bottom, there is a drop down arrow called “Advanced Settings.” Clicking this will offer more options.
  • At the bottom of the “Privacy and Security” menu, there is an option called “Clear Browsing Data”
  • The window that pops up will provide several options. You can choose to clear browsing data from when you began using the browser or select a custom period of time. You can also check off which types of data you would like to be cleared. Clearing cached files will log you out of any accounts where you have asked to remain logged in so please ensure you have all logins saved in a secure password keeper before moving ahead or uncheck this option.
  • Once you are ready, click the “Clear Data” button

If you’re on an Apple device, you probably use the default browser created by Apple called Safari. Here are the details to manage your browser history with Safari:

  • At the top of your browser window there is a “History” option to click on
  • A selection window will pop up and, at the bottom, there is an option to “Clear History”
  • Another window will appear that allows you to select dates, specific browser data, and more
  • Click “Clear History” to confirm your selections. The popup window will also give you the option to delete top sites.

For Firefox users, these are the steps you will want to follow to clear your browser history:

  • Click on the “Library” button that looks like four books stacked against each other
  • Select “History” and then “Clear Recent History”
  • The popup that appears will allow you to set a date range from when you want to clear browser history and you can also select specific types of data you would like to keep or delete
  • When ready, click on the “Clear Now” button

It’s important to keep in mind that this simply deletes the local browser history which may include some searches entered directly in the address or search bar of the browser. However, this is not a clean sweep of Google search history and you will have to take a few more steps to complete the job if you want to truly secure your privacy.

Also, some browsers provide options to automatically clear history at set intervals. If you want to save yourself from regularly performing the above steps, you may wish to take a few minutes to configure your settings to automatically delete browser history as you see fit.

Deleting Google search history and data

Now that you have cleared out your browser history, you have done half of the work required to secure your privacy. The next step is removing your activity from Google. While this information isn’t readily available for anyone to access, people that share devices with you or have access to your Google account will be able to find this information rather easily. The great news is that clearing out this activity history is just as easy.

If you are using a browser, here are the steps to follow:

  • Type this into your browser: https://myaccount.google.com
  • If you are using Chrome, you can also get to this page by using the three dot menu button at the top right of the browser window, selecting “Settings,” and then selecting, “Manage your Google Account”
  • Select “Data and Personalization”
  • Under the “Activity and Timeline” menu you will see a selection called “My Activity” that you can click on
  • There will be a “More” option at the top right which is shown by the three dots
  • Now click “Delete Activity By” and you will see options where you can set a date range to delete your search activity
  • When you have your settings configured the way you want, click on “Delete” to confirm

If you’re on an Android device, you can also delete your Google account activity right from your smartphone or tablet with these steps:

  • Open the “Settings” app on your device
  • Select “Google” and then in the following menu select “Google Account”
  • Now select “Data and Personalization”
  • There will be another window that shows you the option “My Activity” which you can select now
  • At the top right, you will see three dots that offer more options and selecting this will show the option “Delete Activity By”
  • From here, you can set specific date ranges to delete your activity and confirm your choices by selecting “Delete”

If you’re on an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad, Google also allows you to manage your search history with these steps:

  • In your browser, go to: https://myaccount.google.com– Gmail users can also access this option by opening the Gmail app, tapping on the menu icon, selecting “Settings,” then “Your Account,” and then selecting “Manage your Google Account”
  • Now you will want to tap on “Data & Personalization”
  • From here you will see the “My Activity” option
  • Three dots will appear at the top right which you can tap on to reveal more options and then select “Delete Activity By”
  • Using this window, you can set date ranges to delete your Google search history and confirm your choice by tapping on “Delete”

If your Google account syncs across multiple devices, you will only need to perform the above steps on one device. As your data is synced with your account, this process only needs to be performed once. There is no need to do it on every single device you own unless each device is connected to a different Google account.

Protecting your privacy moving forward

Now that you have successfully deleted your browser history and Google search data, you’re probably wondering how you can streamline this process in the future and ensure that your data isn’t being seen by the wrong people. There are a few things you can do to protect your privacy and Google search history in the future.

First, if you want to automate the processes outlined above, Google provides options to do so. When you get to the “Manage Activity” tab in the steps for deleting your Google activity history, you can tap on the three dots to reveal advanced options and you will see “Keep Activity For.” This option allows you to set regular intervals where your activity will be cleared out. For example, you could have Google automatically delete your activity once per week if you feel that suits your needs.

If you would prefer that Google didn’t store your activity at all then there is also an option to have them stop altogether. Under the “Data and Personalization” option in the steps outlined above, you will see an option called “Activity Controls.” Within that menu there is another option titled “Manage your activity controls.” By selecting this, you can determine which types of activity you would like Google to save to your account. Turning off various options means that the data you have opted out of will no longer be stored on your Google account.

Using a VPN is also another effective way to secure your privacy when doing Google searches. Because a VPN encrypts your data between your device and the remote VPN server, no one who may be monitoring your web traffic can see what kind of information you’re sending including Google searches. This is especially important for those who tend to log into public wi-fi networks like those found at airports or coffee shops. Hackers with a little bit of know-how can easily monitor these open wi-fi networks for unencrypted data being sent over the network. Using a VPN makes this data impossible for hackers to analyze and, in turn, keeps all of your data secure. This include Google searches, banking information, online shopping history, emails, private messages, and more.

To keep hackers out of your Google account, you may also wish to enable 2-factor authentication. This is an extra step used for logging into your Google account that requires a code to be entered after logging in before any information is available for viewing. The code can be texted to your mobile device or generated using an authenticator app like Google Authenticator. Even if a hacker were to steal your password and username, they would be unable to access your information without the generated code that is delivered to your mobile device.

Sharing devices can also compromise your security. In many cases, for someone to access your search history, they would have to have access to your password. The exception to that rule is when you share devices where you may be logged in with your Google account. A family computer or shared tablet is a good example of this scenario. If you’re concerned about someone accessing your data on shared device then you may wish to create a separate Google account for the device or, if possible, use different devices entirely.

Finally, if you’re very concerned about the amount of data that Google is collecting about you then you could opt to stop using Google services altogether. This is far easier said than done due to the amount of reach that Google has online and with products like Android smartphones. DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that markets itself as the privacy-friendly competition to Google. They give users greater control over their own information and their website claims that, “getting the privacy you deserve should be as simple as closing the blinds.” Their search engine offers private searching and a number of privacy tips to help you take complete control over your data in our connected, digital world.

Alex Grant
 

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