Google retains your search history indefinitely, which makes it easier to find your old searches. This can come in handy in some cases, but can also be an annoyance when old, irrelevant searches clutter up your interface. You also may not want people you share the computer with to see them, either. Thankfully, it’s easy to erase your Google search history, and we’ll show you how.
- It’s easy to clear your Google search history, but it’s even easier to prevent Google from storing that information at all. This article provides instructions to do both.
- Clearing your Google history and clearing your browser history are not the same thing! If you want to destroy any record of the sites you’ve visited, find out how to do that in your individual browser; these instructions will only clear what you’ve searched for on Google.
- Deleting your Google search history can be done from either your web browser on your laptop or from your mobile device. It doesn’t matter which.
Please note, though, that this isn’t really a privacy-enhancing exercise: even when you delete your search history, Google itself keeps a record of it. The only way to completely wipe your history is by deleting your account and starting a new one (or use incognito mode to make sure no history is created).
Completed a fresh guide of how to erase your Google search history, adding step-by-step instructions to clear your Google search history.
Google hangs on to your search history for one very good reason: cold, hard cash. There’s a lot of money to be made selling people’s browsing habits to advertisers, and Google has gotten rich off of it. The only way to not be part of it is to prevent Google from retaining this data.
When you clear browsing data or search history, not all that much happens. Your old searches, passwords and favorite sites won’t be in Google’s memory anymore, so to speak, meaning you can start with a clean slate.
Just follow the instructions in this article and your search bar will look like it’s never been used.
No, you can’t. Your ISP and the sites you’ve visited will have a record of your visit. The only way to avoid this is to use incognito mode and have a VPN engaged next time you want to visit sites unnoticed.
How to Erase Google Search History in the Browser
The easiest way to delete your Google search history is by doing so via your desktop or laptop computer. Just go into your web browser — any browser will do; it doesn’t have to be Google Chrome (read our Google Chrome review). Then go into Gmail or another Google app, like Google Drive or even just the Google search page.
- Open Your Google Account
You need to first access your Google account, which you do by clicking on the button in the top-right corner of the screen; it will either have your pic or your initials on it. When a new tab opens, click on “manage your Google account” to continue.
- Go to “Web & App Activity”
You’ll be brought to the main screen for your Google account. On the left-hand side, you’ll see an entry for “data and privacy.” Click that, then a little way down the new page you need to select the button that says “web & app activity.”
- Go to “Manage All Web & App Activity”
There is one more step before you can delete your activity (wonder why they make it this hard). The next screen is the summary for your activity settings. Scroll down and hit the button that says “manage all web & app activity.”
- Delete Your Google History
At the bottom of the next screen you’ll either find a list of all the sites you’ve visited recently, or if you already deleted your history, a little cactus and a message saying “no activity.” There’s also a big button labeled “delete” — click on it.
- Specify How Far Back You Want to Delete Your Google Activity
The only thing that remains is to select how far back you want to delete your search and account history. We suggest picking the “always” option, but you may have different priorities. Next up, all you need to do is confirm your choice and you’re all done.
How to Erase Your Google Search History on iPhone and Android
The steps are exactly the same on mobile — the screen is just smaller. Go into your web browser, go to google.com and follow the steps from there. If you’re on Android, you can also manage your account from the Google app.
How to Stop Google From Keeping Your Search History
Even better than wiping your search history is never keeping one in the first place. Switching it off is pretty easy, too, and can be done as you delete your existing history.
- Go to Web & App Activity
To set that up, just go back to “web & app activity” from the data and privacy screen. There, you’ll see a heading that says “web & app activity” with a badge below it that says “on” and a big blue button marked “turn off.” Click on it.
- Pause Saving Your Google Activity
You’ll get a small screen where you need to confirm your choice by clicking on the big blue button that says “pause,” then hit another confirmation screen after. Hopefully that’ll be the last tracking Google does of you.
How to Turn Off and Clear Your Location History
While you’re in these settings, we also recommend that you turn off and clear your location history for that extra peace of mind. The steps are pretty much the same: just click “location” history beneath the “web & app activity button” in the data and privacy screen from step one.
Final Thoughts: Clear Browsing Data
You can clear your Google history in just a few minutes and start with a clean new search engine, uncluttered by your old queries. However, we strongly recommend you switch off Google’s ability to save your searches while you’re at it, even just for some small peace of mind.
Even better than switching off Google’s tracking is to not trust the search engine at all and simply opt for DuckDuckGo instead. It’s almost as powerful as Google is, and doesn’t siphon your data. Give it a shot — you might like it.
Do you have any further tips on how to stay clear of Google’s data collection? Are you having trouble with any of the steps? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.