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