How to Delete Your Google Search History

How to Delete Your Google Search History

Google tracks your search activity across multiple apps and services. Google, rather its parent company, Alphabet, owns multiple internet properties like YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome web browser, the Google Play Store, and others. All of these are used to track user activity. The data is collected and used to make services better. However, it is also used as a major revenue source for Google as your data is used by advertisers. Google makes money by collecting data about individuals and selling that information to advertisers, so they can target appropriate advertisement at you. The more targeted and precise a marketing campaign is, the lucrative it is for the advertiser. Google offers many of its services for free as it pays off with the data they sell to advertisers.

Your “search activity” is the words and phrases you type into any Google product to look for something on the web. For example, you use Google.com and search for “chicken wing recipes.” On YouTube, you may search for your favorite channel or video by typing in “How to Destroy a USB Flash Drive.” And even when you use Google Maps, your search history, for example, restaurants that you searched for or visited are all tracked by Google. All of these contribute to your search history. Some of this data may be used to make relevant suggestions to you later on. A lot of it is also used by advertisers who now have a glimpse into places you are interested in.

Google Shut Off Search Tracking
Google Shut Off Search Tracking

Users have the ability to control and delete search activity. If you don’t want others who use your devices to see what you’ve been looking for on the web, then you need to clean up your search history. Remember this information is shared across all logged in devices. This means, that if you search for something on Google.com from your smartphone and are logged into the same Google account elsewhere, it can show up on other devices. For example, your home computer which is also logged into the same Google account contains that same search history as well. And it is in real-time. So if you looked for a gift on your phone and are trying to keep it a surprise, then you best delete that search history if you are sharing computers or tablets.

How Do I View My Past Web Searches?

To view your past search activity, go to https://myactivity.google.com/privacyadvisor/search in a web browser. You don’t have to use Chrome, but if you want to view and manage your Google search history you will have to be logged into a Google account to do so. This applies even if you use another browser like Firefox as I do. Although I use Firefox for just about everything, and Chrome for some heavy lifting for programming work, my activity is recorded by Google.

Google Search Activity
Google Search Activity

If you are not signed into a Google account, then you will still be contributing data to Google, but you won’t have any control over it other than to turn off sharing future data. When you are signed in to a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Analytics or other) then you can delete search history from your browser.

Log into your Google account if you have not already done so and head over to https://myactivity.google.com/privacyadvisor/search. From there you will be able to either view only your Google activity – meaning searches on Google.com and other properties mentioned above. To see your Google only activity, select “Google only.” If you want to see all your search activity (that Google is monitoring and saving) then choose the left-hand button to see saved data about your web searches. Choose “All search activity.”

Delete Google Search Activity
Delete Google Search Activity

How to Delete ALL of Your Google Search Activity

To delete ALL your search history, start on the activity page and hit the Delete your Search activity button. You can choose to wipe it all out or to just delete the last hour of your search history. This deletes your activity data, like the terms you’ve searched for and the links you’ve selected. Remember, this is not the complete way to wipe out all traces of what you’ve been doing online. To really clean it up, you’ll have to make sure you removed all downloaded files delete and temporary internet files as well. If you logged into a website to make a purchase or view certain content, then that log in history is also saved along with your Google saved passwords in a Windows system file found under your username. You will also need to delete your Google Timeline and adjust privacy settings for the future.

Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She conducts workshops focused on web technologies and enjoys public speaking along with her connected rescue mutt.