Google has been tracking and collecting purchases through your Gmail account for years. Here's how to view and delete your purchase history.
Google has been tracking and collecting purchases you make through your Gmail account since at least 2012 (according to some journalists). Google collects information on transactions made through Google products like the Play Store, Google Express, or Google Assistant. They also collect information on many purchases tied to your Gmail account - if you buy things on or offline or make reservations using a Gmail address, Google scans the digital receipts and confirmations that arrive in your Gmail account and lists them. In the newest iteration of Google Calendar, reservations for flights, restaurants and more are automatically added to your Calendar from your Gmail inbox (unless changed in Settings).
If you own a business, travel, or need to keep receipts for reimbursement or tax purposes, having this kind of information in one place is useful. A spokesperson for Google said this Purchase page is meant to help people view and keep track of their purchases, bookings and subscriptions. There's more about this at the receipts and reservations page.
They mention you can delete the information from the Purchases page (that can only be seen by you) and that the information isn't used to serve you ads from either the email receipts or confirmations. As of now, there is no way to stop Google from tracking purchases. The entries can be deleted, but it's not a simple process. Here is how it's done.
Start by visiting this page in your Google account while logged in:
Here you'll see all the purchase entries listed. Entries have to be removed individually.
To delete a purchase entry, select it to see the details.
Click the info "i" icon, then "where's this from?" to show how Google learned about any transaction.
Next, you can click "got it" or "view email." From there your Gmail account will load, and you can delete the original email.
Only then will the transaction disappear from your purchase history.
What if you want to keep the receipts or reservations but don't want them listed in your Gmail account?
- You could print them as a PDF or as a hard copy.
- You could set up an email account at another email service (see list below) and create and use another address or forward the purchase emails to the new address
- You could set up a program like Thunderbird to access your Gmail account from your computer (most new versions of email programs will configure Gmail accounts automatically, all you need is your user name and password) and move the messages to a local folder or another online email service. This option is the most complicated but lets you keep your receipt emails out of Gmail but accessible from a device or browser. Even if you want to leave everything in your Gmail account you might want to access Gmail via an email program, you may find it easier to manage email if you deal with or have a lot of email.
There are several good free online email services. They vary quite a bit in how much space they allow and what features they offer. In general, free accounts have less space allowance than Gmail, though depending on usage that may or may not be an issue. Some have calendars or other features. Zoho offers a whole suite of services. Some have ads, some don't. Here's a list of the better ones:
Setting up an email program to access Gmail and Outlook Mail gives you all the benefits of a full featured email client while still leaving your email online, accessible via web or mobile.
You can have more than one email service in an email program - for example you can access both Gmail and Outlook Mail through Thunderbird, and you can move emails from one service to the other. This lets you store your Gmail receipt emails in another service like Outlook Mail. They are still accessible online, but no longer in Gmail. (The only online service I'm sure is accessible through an email program is Outlook Mail.)
Newer versions of Thunderbird and other email programs configure Gmail accounts automatically. I've used Thunderbird here, but the picks in our Best Free Email Software category, Mailbird, or Mailspring will work as well.
IMAP access in Gmail needs to be enabled to access Gmail through an email program. It's not hard, directions are here. You may also have to turn on "Less secure apps" in your Google account. Go to your Google Account Security Page and enable "Allow less secure apps".
If you have certain server configurations or run into any issues, Google's article Use IMAP to check Gmail on other email clients has server information and some troubleshooting tips.
In Thunderbird, the emails I tested that were moved from Gmail to Outlook Mail are intact after they were deleted from Gmail. I created a folder in Outlook Mail called "Gmail" and moved the email from Gmail to the folder in Outlook Mail. I had no issues, but your mileage may vary.
Here are step-by-step directions for accessing Gmail through Thunderbird: How to Access Gmail with Mozilla Thunderbird.
Here's the information to access Outlook Mail through Thunderbird: Access Outlook Mail in Mozilla Thunderbird. The Thunderbird account settings are now accessed through the hamburger or three horizontal line menu in the upper right but otherwise the process is the same. The same server settings can be used in other email programs.
If you want to use a different email program, check our Best Free Email Software category. Mailbird or Mailspring are two additional free programs.
Though Google has been tracking and collecting receipts and reservations for quite some time, the purchase page isn't easily visible or accessible from the Google Account Portal.
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