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By now, you're probably already aware that Google knows absolutely everything about you; from your favourite site to watch TV shows online, to where you plan on booking a table for dinner. We have all encountered the slightly eerie experience of discussing our next weekend away, only to be inundated with reviews and suggestions for that exact location.
But have you ever wondered just how Google knows you better than you know yourself?
Every time a Google Account user searches for something on Google.com, the search engine giant builds a profile of them based on their search history, as well as their browsing history on Google-owned sites.
Google then uses that data to build advertising profiles so that it can display advertisements tailored to its users.
To make matters worse, Google has been storing search data and activities from its users in databases since it started using web histories back in 2005. With that being said, privacy is important, and if you plan on keeping your searches hidden from others, deleting sensitive information from your Google history is vital.
In this guide, we will explain how to delete your Google browsing history, browsing data, and activity on PC, Android and even Apple devices.
Table of Contents:
What Google Knows About You
To understand how to protect your privacy from Google, you first need to know exactly what they know about you and your search history – this is one area where knowledge really is power.
What is Google History?
To begin, let's look at exactly what your Google search history is. In short, your Google History is essentially a record of everything you have searched for or clicked on when browsing the web (Google.com).
While you can clear your local Google browser history, it is important to note that Google automatically keeps a record of everything you search for on servers – and this can make it harder to truly delete search history.
So even if you clear your local Google search history, it won't clear the information that Google stores.
Who Can See My Google History?
Unless someone else has access to your Google Account or device, only you (the user) can view your Google History. With that being said, it is important to note that many parties can track your online activity, including your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
While your ISP cannot directly view your Google History, they can track and even profit from your browsing data. They can also save your data for over a year, depending on local laws.
Can I Permanently Delete My Google Browsing History?
Despite the fact that most Google Account users already know how to erase their browsing history, removing your digital footprint is practically impossible, even if you go incognito.
If you're logged into a Google Account on your device, Google will automatically store a record of everything you search for on Google.com.
If you want to protect your privacy online, we highly recommend using a quality VPN service to hide your IP address and internet activity from your web browser - this is the best option to hide and privatize your search history, even from Google.
Does Google Sell Customer Data?
According to Google's Safety Centre, Google does not sell your personal information to anyone. Instead, the company claims to only use data to serve relevant ads in Google products, mobile apps, and on Google partner sites.
Be that as it may, nobody outside of the company really knows how Google processes or profits from your data, though we do understand how it is collected.
How to Download Data You Want to Keep
Before you head straight in to delete your entire Google search history, only to find that that a super critical document was thrown out with the purge, you may want to download and keep specific items for future references, and this may include specific files, such as emails and downloads.
Note that you can't restore deleted files – once they are gone they are gone. With this in mind, make sure you back up any essential documents and files before you decide to delete your search history and delete your Google data.
How to Download Data
Once you have decided which data in your search history you want to keep, use the following checklist to download and keep this safe.
- Head to the Google Takeout homepage.
- Click Deselect all.
- Check all of the items you want to download.
- Once you have selected all of the items you want to keep, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Next step.
- Click “Send download link via email” and select a Delivery method from the drop-down menu.
- Choose a frequency. You can choose to export once or every 2 months for 1 year (6 exports).
- Click “.zip” and select a File type from the drop-down menu. You can choose between .zip or .tgz.
- Click “2 GB” and select a File size from the drop-down menu. This ranges from 1 GB to 50 GB.
- Click Create export.
- Click on the Download button next to each item/product you want to keep.
How to Delete Your Chrome Browsing History
Once you have downloaded and protected any data that you are interested in keeping, the next stage is to delete your Chrome browsing history. Chrome is the standard search engine for Google, and so is a good place to start for those looking to delete Google search history and restore their privacy.
Deleting your entire history from Chrome will remove:
- Any web addresses you have visited – these are removed from your History page.
- Any shortcuts to these pages in the New Tab option.
- Any address bar predictions that you have for these sites.
Get into the habit of clearing your browsing data regularly – not only will this ensure that your privacy is protected from Google, but it will also reduce the risk of scammers and hackers being able to access valuable data and personal information from your history settings.
There are three main options when it comes to deleting Chrome browsing history: your browsing data can be removed from a PC or laptop, an Android device, or an Apple device. We have the complete guide to each of these below.
Deleting Chrome Browsing History on PC or Laptop
To clear browsing history on a PC or laptop, follow a simple process:
You need to start by viewing the complete Google history that is stored on your PC, and this can be achieved as follows:
- Open Chrome on your PC.
- Click on the More menu (three vertical dots).
- Click on History > History. Alternatively, press Ctrl + H to instantly open your Chrome History.
Next, clear the data and history stored in Google Chrome using the following steps:
- Select “Clear browsing data” on the left-hand side of the screen.
- In the drop-down menu, select how much data you want to delete next to “Time range”.
- To clear all of your Google History, select “All time” from the drop-down menu.
- Check the boxes for the data you want Chrome to delete, for instance, “Browsing history”.
- To remove everything from your Google history, select the Advanced subheading and check all the boxes.
- Once you're finished, click on the blue “Clear data” button.
What Does and Doesn't Get Deleted?
Before you go ahead and clear your browsing data on your computer, it must be noted that some data does not get deleted during this process. This includes extensions, search history, and other activities.
That being said, this data can be deleted separately as previously mentioned in the steps above.
Data that can be deleted when you clear your Google browsing data includes browsing history, download history, cookies, passwords, cached images, and files.
How to Delete an Individual Item from Your Google Browsing History on PC
In some cases, you may wish to remove a single item from your history, rather than the entire back history - this can be useful if you are booking a surprise trip, or have made a secret purchase for a birthday or special event.
Deleting an individual item or specific items from your Google History is very straightforward. All you have to do is head to your Google History (Ctrl + H), check the box next to an item that you want to remove, and click Delete at the top right-hand corner of the window. You can even search for specific words using the handy history search bar, allowing you to jump right to the item in question rather than scrolling through your entire Google search history - great if you need to save time!
How to Delete Your Chrome Browsing History Forever on Android
In addition to deleting your Chrome history on a PC or laptop, you may also wish to clear your Google search history from using Google Chrome on an Android device. This is a simple process, and we have outlined the steps below:
As with Chrome, you will need to begin by locating your Google search history on your Android device, and this can be achieved as follows:
- Open the Chrome app on your Android device.
- Tap on the three vertical dots in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
- Clicking on it opens the More menu.
- Select “History” from the drop-down menu to bring up your browser history.
The next step is to actually clear your history, and the steps for this are outlined below:
- Tap “Clear browsing data…” at the top of the screen.
- Select how much data you want to delete in the drop-down menu next to “Time range”.
- Select “Browsing history” and any other data you want to delete from your Google History.
- For more options, click on the “Advanced” subheading.
- Tap on the “Clear data” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
This will ensure that all Google search history is deleted from your Android device for total peace of mind and security.
How to Delete Your Chrome Browsing History Forever on iPhone and iPad
If you are using Google Chrome on Apple products such as an iPad or iPhone, you can still take steps to delete Google search history, and the process for this includes:
Once again, begin by viewing your search history to see exactly what is stored.
- Open the Chrome application on your Apple device (iPhone or iPad).
- At the bottom right of the screen, select the three vertical dots to open the Chrome menu.
Once you have located your search history, you can clear it as follows:
- At the bottom of the History window, select Clear Browsing Data.
- Check the Browsing History box if it is not already checked by default.
- Check any other items that you want to remove from your Google history.
- Select Clear Browsing Data > Clear Browsing Data to clear your Google History on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap Done in the top right of the screen.
Once this process is complete, you will find that your browsing data and entire search history is removed from your device.
How to Delete Your Google Activity on PC
Whenever you use a Google service such as Google Chrome or YouTube, your activity is automatically saved as data to your Google Account. This is done to make your experience useful and much faster.
While it can be beneficial, you may not want Google to save everything you watch or search for online. Fortunately, you can delete all of your past activities and searches from your Chrome browsing history in My Activity.
How is this Different from Clearing Chrome?
Deleting your Google activity is different from the process we have just discussed clearing Crhome - the steps above will clear your activity and browser history that has been collected using Chrome. The steps were are about to show you will remove the activity from your Google account and any Google app that is connected to it – this will essentially clear all searches, websites, and videos that you have visited or interacted with, increasing your online privacy.
To delete your Google search and clear your browser history including Google Activity, you need to:
- Open Google Chrome on your computer.
- If you're logged out, sign in to your Google Account.
- Click on your profile icon in the top right-hand corner of the window.
- Alternatively, head to myaccount.google.com.
- Click on the Data & personalization subheading.
- Under the Activity and timeline subheading, select My Activity.
- Click on the three vertical dots found in the “Search your activity” search bar.
- Select “Delete activity by” from the drop-down menu.
- Select All time from the drop-down menu.
- Click Next > Delete.
How to Delete Other Activity Saved to Your Google Account
Even after you delete your Google Activity, there may still be activity saved in other places on your account. For instance, if you haven't paused your YouTube History, it will automatically save to your Google Activity timeline. Luckily, you can delete almost all of the activity saved to your Google Activity, Maps Timeline and Web & App Activity by following a few steps:
- Head to Google Chrome on your computer and go to your Google Account.
- Click Data & personalization > My Activity.
- Click on the More icon (three vertical dots) found in the “Search your activity” search bar.
- Select Other Google Activity.
- In this page you can do a few things:
- Manage your Google activity.
- Delete your Google activity.
How to Stop Saving Activity
In addition to deleting your search history and clearing all your searches, you can also request that Google stops saving search history automatically, by opting out of automatically saving activity on your account. This means Google automatically deletes history settings, rather than saving log-ins, passwords, and history.
This means that you will not have to delete your Google search manually moving forward; you can simply request that it is no longer tracked and opt to auto-delete activity.
You can set Google up to stop saving activity by:
- Open Google Chrome on your PC and head to your Google Account.
- Click on Data & personalization.
- Click Manage your activity controls under Activity Controls.
- Turn off all the activity that you do not want to save in your Google Account.
Keeping your data safe and private from Google can be a challenge, but the good news is that there are options to clear your search history, eliminate any previous Google searches from your record, clear your browser cache, and allow you to maintain a higher level of privacy.
By understanding the different types of clearing you can do, and following the steps above, you can maintain a more private online presence – even from tech giants such as Google.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below:
Is Deleting Google History Permanent?
Deleting your Google History is a permanent process, and so it is important that you have backed up any files that you need before you commence with the process.
What Kind of Activity Will Still be Tracked by Google Even if I Delete My History?
Deleting just your browser history or search history will still allow Google to track your activity – to prevent this, you need to clear your Google Activity, as outlined above, and then opt to stop activity tracking – this will auto-delete activity rather than saving it to your Google account.
How Often Should I Delete My Google History?
As a rule, you should get into the habit of clearing search history and Google activity around twice a month – this will protect your data not only from Google but from hackers and scammers who may be on the hunt to steal your data.
What Information is Stored in My Google History?
Your Google History will include key information such as your search history, and any history connected to apps such as Maps or Play. Information such as IP address, location, and language will also be saved, along with suggestions for items you have recently browsed or looked at.
By deleting your search history, or opting for an auto delete solution you can remove the tracking and ensure that your history is not saved or monitored by Google or apps.
Why is it a Good Idea to Clear Google Activity?
Clearing your Google Activity and search history gives you greater control over the information and data that companies have on you, and removes the available information that these companies have access to online.