Many people are becoming more concerned with their online privacy. This comes from all the social media scandals, and the number of online trackers they face for targeted ads.
This piles up on the top of the NSA spying and any other area where online activity profiles are created.
One of the first areas that people tackle this issue is deleting their browsing history or using incognito mode where this is deleted at the end of the session.
All this is a start, yet it is in no way good enough for online privacy protection. If you want to remember something you searched for over ten years ago, there is no way you could remember.
In fact, Google can, because all the Google products you use and web app history has been recorded since 2005.
The problem lies when you clear your browser history, this doesn’t delete your Google search history from their servers.
Here we will show you how to delete Google search history permanently. Not only will this give you a clean starting point, it will stop any search and browsing data following you around the web.
What Information Does Google Store?
Most internet users are unaware of the amount of data that Google stores about them. This problem gets worse with the increase in number of mobile devices.
In many cases, these are permanently connected, so Google collects information even when you are not thinking about it.
On one hand, they do all they can to collect even more web history, and on the other, they try to make users think they are recording less.
Here is some of what they record, and what they know about you.
- The place you were born, and your age
- All your cell phone contact numbers
- All your Google searches and previous web browser site visits
- Google maps records where you go and for how long if you carry your cell phone
- Your place of work, where you live
- Everything you watched on YouTube
- Google records your voice if you have a Google assistant
You may think this is extreme, yet these are just the tip of what they know. All your Gmail account, Google activity, and Android devices continually drip-feed information back to the company.
The music you like, the foods you eat and what kind of computing devices you use are all known, the list goes on.
Unless you do something about it, Google will know more about you, than you know yourself.
Download Your Google Activity Before You Delete
There is a feature you can use to download all your app activity from any Google products you use.
The Takeout feature was released to allow users to do this and archive their Google history. Here are the quick steps you can follow to do this.
- Sign in to your Google account
- Head to the ‘web app activity’ section
- Select ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Download.’
- Click on ‘Create Archive’
Google sends an email as you are downloading. You can view the archive in your ‘Takeout’ folder, or you have the option to download a zipped folder also.
How to Clear Google Search History on Android and iOS
When you come to clear search history on both iOS and Android devices, it is similar the way you go about it.
There are two methods, and each differ depending if you are using the Chrome Browser or you want to clear browsing activity in the dedicated Google app. Here is how to clear browsing data on both devices.
Clear Google Search History from Chrome Browser
On both devices, it is possible to clear browsing activity directly within Chrome.
- Open the Chrome browser
- Tap on the three small dots and tap on History
- Tap on ‘Clear Browsing Data,’
- Tap on the down arrow next to the time range. Select all time, this will remove your search history right back to when you first used Chrome.
- You can select different search results to delete if there are some you need to keep. In iOS, click ‘edit’ so you can select what you wish to keep from the history page.
- You will see items you can keep or remove, such as autofill, browsing history, cookies, and cached images.
- To delete browser history, all you need to do now is click ‘clear data,’ in iOS you will click ‘done’ in top right corner.
Delete Google History from Google App
If you use the official web app on your mobile devices, these are the steps to clear Google searches.
- Open the Google app
- Tap the ‘More’ icon in the bottom right of the menu bar
- Tap settings
- Tap on ‘Accounts and Privacy’
- Tap on ‘My Activity’
- From this point, the steps are the same as above when you want to delete your search in the browser. You can follow from ‘Step 2’ or just:
- Tap the three dots
- Tap delete activity by
- Tap the arrow for the drop-down
- Change delete app history for ‘All Time.’
- Hit ‘delete.’
- Go through the ‘delete my activity’ page and select anything you want to keep.
- Select three dots and then tap delete.
If you don’t want to keep anything, your entire search history will be wiped from the app.
How to Delete Google Browsing History
One of the first places and most common areas is to delete your history from your browser. Here are the steps how to clear browsing history on Google.
This will help erase Google search activity using Google search engines, searches for videos, and if you clicked on any ads.
- Head to ‘My Activity’ page. Click the three small dots.
- Select ‘Delete Activity by’
- Alter the date from ‘Today’ to ‘All-time.’
- Select ‘All Products’ from the drop-down and then select ‘Delete’
- Google tells you how it uses your data in search results to make its services more useful. Click on ‘OK’
- Google asks if you are sure you want to ‘Delete Your Google Activity’ from all time
- Click ‘Delete’
- The next screen should say ‘No Activity.’
Stopping or Pausing Google from Saving Your Online Activity
While removing Google searches can be a good thing for protection. It does nothing going forward from that point for your internet privacy. Your history on Google will be reset, and they will just start recording again.
If you don’t halt this, you will be looking to erase Google history again in the future.
Google won’t let users disable the saving of activity permanently, but it is possible to pause it.
Here are the steps you need to follow after removing Google searches results in the previous sections.
- Head to Your Activity page.
- Click on ‘Activity Controls’
There is a list of activities or products you can select to stop tracking. Location history being a prime example.
- You are then presented with a dialogue window that asks for confirmation you want to pause the activity.
- Do this for every product you want to stop harvesting information Google can store.
- To finalize, just select pause in the bottom right corner
Being Invisible to Google
Once you see how to delete search history, and pause recording of your online activities, this doesn’t make you invisible to them.
It is almost impossible to be invisible, and even with a Gmail account, you are still in the same position when you began.
Google data comes from almost every corner of the internet, and the only way to get away from them is not use the web at all.
It can be a great start to halt tracking and deleting your current history, but you will need to begin using Google alternatives.
Another search engine which doesn’t track activity, such as DuckDuck Go, StartPage, or any other privacy focused search page can help.
Their maps can be even harder to get away from as can their location gathering of your mobile devices.
One of the better ways is to prevent any search data coming back to you as an individual. This can also be true with your location.
By adding a premium VPN to your system or mobile devices, this can mask your IP address, and make you appear to be in another location.
Search data may come back with location-specific results, that are not relevant to where you live. However, you can live with this when you know you are not being followed.
Once you do all of the above, you may even consider deleting your Facebook account. Exactly the same online activity recording happens there, not to mention all the security breaches they continually face.