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How to Delete Your Google Search and Browsing History

How to Delete Your Google Search and Browsing History

Reference guide on how to delete and protect your Internet browsing and search history from Google now that it’s updated its privacy policy to allow it to use this information to display personalized search results and advertising across all of its services.

Yesterday Google officially updated its Terms of Service to allow it to combine your past and present search histories with other information in your Google account so that it can deliver more finely tailored search recommendations and advertisements.

“Our privacy policies have always allowed us to combine information from different products with your account effectively using your data to provide you with a better service,” it said in a blog posting. “However, we’ve been restricted in our ability to combine your YouTube and Search histories with other information in your account. Our new Privacy Policy gets rid of those inconsistencies so we can make more of your information available to you when using Google.”

So now when you do frequent searches for a particular topic on say YouTube, for example, then Google might suggest ads for that same topic elsewhere on another Google service like Gmail.

For some, however this is going to far, and they’re leery of being tracked, monitored, and solicited at every turn. Luckily there’s a number of solutions short of boycotting all Google services that will allow you to maintain a modicum of privacy while continuing to use the Google services and products you’ve come to love.

Pause, Resume, and Remove Your Web History

A lot of people are unaware that Google has been keeping a list of all the sites you’ve visited and search queries you’ve made since the very first day you logged into your Google account. In your history settings you can pause and resume your web history, delete some or all of it as you see fit, or even search through it to find a site you forgot to bookmark.

While we’re here, for the curious there’s a “Trends” feature that displays your top queries, sites, and clicks from the last 7 days up until “all time.”

So if you want to keep Google out of your search history first “Remove all Web History” and then “Pause” it for good (or until you decide otherwise).

Pause, Resume, and Remove Your YouTube Search History

As I mentioned earlier, Google maintains a YouTube search history (Dashboard > YouTube > Manage Search History) and  it’s this data that is also now available to other Google services and products.

Just like you can with your web history you can remove specific searches or clear your search history entirely. To stop Google from further maintaining a list you can pause it now and resume it a later date if you want.

Go “Incognito” (Browse in Private)

Assuming your using Google Chrome to browse the Internet, you can open windows in “Incognito mode” to travel the Web in stealth mode. To go incognito select “New Incognito Window” under the tools tab or press  “Ctrl + Shift + N.”

How Incognito mode works:

  • Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories.
  • All new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows that you’ve opened.
  • Changes made to your Google Chrome bookmarks and general settings while in incognito mode are always saved.

Mozilla’s Firefox also has a “Private Browsing” mode as does Safari and Internet Explorer.

So now that you have a few options at your disposal you should feel a little less worried about Google’s new TOS.

Stay tuned.

[email protected] | @jaredmoya

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
Flob
Flob

It's also rather creepy how they're attempting to integrate your entire personal history via youtube gmail and facebook into one consolidated little file so their scumbag workers like David Barksdale can take a wander through your life at a whim. Time for something to change really, although most really don't care and will have their ears tagged and numbered like cattle quite willingly. If an enterprise such as google street view was embarked upon by a government there would be outrage over the ethical aspect of it, as it is, it's promoted as a service for use by all which makes it somehow acceptable.

Flob
Flob

The internet is becoming an increasingly ugly and cynical place to spend your time.

some one
some one

for those who do use their domain in google apps you can also disable the browsing & search history domain wide via the admin panel for the domain

John Smith
John Smith

Hey Charlie, chromium is actually pretty good, and you can always use the anonymized version, the "Iron" build by SRWare.. and as for alternative search engines, my favorite is startpage.com.I outright ditched google a while back when they had their wifi sniffing fiasco and have hardcore blocked them entirely ever since and have no regrets.

Pash
Pash

Thanks for the tip. Funny I never bothered to look into this before. I agree with all the privacy concerns, people really just don't get it. I have several Google accounts and run behind a VPN. I have every privacy extension out there as well. But I do use Chrome now after Firefox slowed down a bit too much and can't help but wonder what hidden code is out there doing it's will. I've also started using GDocs and more and more cloud features creep their way into my life. The convenience and speed outweighs my concerns at the moment. You just have to assume nothing is private and work around that.Familiarity breeds contempt.

Charlie Summers
Charlie Summers

Explain to me why anyone interested in keeping their personal data away from Google would use Chrome in the first place. It's simple; don't accept cookies, never log into Google (there are alternatives for all of the big G's "services"), use proxies, use alternative search engines without tracking (Ixquick, Duck Duck Go, etc.)...anyone can with very little effort can break the grip of privacy invasion.What I don't understand is why the most tech-savvy people seem so uncaring of large corporations violating their privacy as a business model. What ever happened to geeks appreciating and expecting their freedoms?



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