Large tech corporations track almost everything we do. Whether it’s how long we look at a post on social media (down to the second) or our restaurant preferences, all these are valuable data. The good news, though, is we do have some control over data, particularly local device usage and history. Today, we will learn how to see all your Google activity and delete it forever, then explain the difference between your web history and your Google Activity. Let’s get started!
Google Web History vs. Google Activity
Your Google web history goes by a few names; search history, browsing data, or just history. This type of web tracking stores things like website cookies, recently visited websites and browser activity within Google Chrome. This data gets tracked only when using a Google browser, particularly Google Chrome. Other browsers have their browser history, but Google has no control over them. Whenever you type in a website, and the link immediately pops up after a single letter, that is an example of your browser history in action. Other common uses for browser history include automatic login (through cookie tracking), saved forms and data entry, and website preferences.
Your Google Activity is a lot broader than just your Google Chrome browser activity. It is a running list of everything you have done within the Google ecosystem. What’s the Google ecosystem? It includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Google Chrome (including Mobile)
- Google Assistant
- Google Smart Devices
- Location History (Google Maps)
- Actions taken on Android devices, and more.
For example, if you have an Android phone and open up a recipe, then tell Google smart speaker to set a timer, all of that will be recorded in Google Activity.
Viewing and deleting your Google web history
On a web browser (Google Chrome), simply press CTRL + H to open it up. If you are on mobile, tap the three dots in the top right of your screen and then select History. A list of your recently viewed websites across all your devices (desktop, laptop, and mobile) will appear. You can look for a certain website by searching in the “Search History” bar at the top of the screen, or you can simply delete your web search history.
To delete your browsing data, click or tap the place that says “Clear browsing data.” Once the new screen appears, you can clear your browsing data from a specific period or wipe out all search and website history. You also have three buttons: browsing history, cookies and other site data, and cached images and files. Each of these is checked by default, but you can customize which of them you can uncheck if you desire. The “Advanced” tab allows you to delete saved passwords, autofill form data, and hosted app data to go a step further.
Viewing and deleting your Google Activity
Viewing My Google Activity is also really easy on most devices. When viewing your Google web history, you will be provided to access your overall Google Activity. If you can’t find it, simply type “www.myactivity.google.com” into your URL. This should take you to your My Google Activity Dashboard, where you can view and manage all your Google Activity.
Your viewing options include sorting your activity by date, app, or product. Additionally, you can search for a specific keyword in the “Search your activity bar.” There are three main portions of “Google activity” being tracked, Web & App, Location History, and YouTube History. Select the appropriate option at the top of your screen to view or control each.
To delete Activity History, press or click the “delete” button above your most recent Activity entry. From here, you can delete the activity by time range. You can also search for a specific Activity entry to delete by searching in the Search Bar using a keyword. Once the entry is found, simply press the “x” to the right of the entry to delete it. Additionally, there are options to “delete automatically” your entries after a certain time. This option can be found within the three specific Activity Menus near the top of the screen (Web & App, Location History, and YouTube History).
How to turn off/hide Google Activity
A quick trick for temporarily disabling your Google Chrome tracking is to use an Incognito Browser. This is a browser that Google designed that allows private searching and browsing with data tracking on Google’s end. On a desktop, simply press CTRL + SHIFT + N, or press the three dots at the top right of the screen and select Incognito Mode (same for mobile). Make sure to close the Incognito tab once finished to ensure complete privacy.
Aside from deleting your Activity History, you also can turn off the tracking for each of the three primary tracking threads (Web & App, Location History, and YouTube History). Select each menu and click the “Turn off” button displayed on the screen. You need to do this for each of the tracking threads.
Seeing all your browsing data in one place can be scary. The good news is Google allows you to See All Your Google Activity and delete it forever, whether mobile or desktop data. Using the various menu and control options, you can feel confident can take full control of your activity history and maintain your privacy!
- Edge vs Chrome: Full Comparison
- Google: Complete Guide – History, Products, Founding, and More
- What Are ‘Data Brokers’ and Are They Evil?