How to Stop Google from Keeping a Record of Every Search You Make

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Do you use Gmail, the Chrome browser, or other Google service? Then Google may be keeping a record of every search query you make. That’s right; if you have a Google account, Google may know everything you ever looked for on the web. That is, unless you turn off Google’s collecting of all your searches and clean out the web history they’ve kept. Here’s how.

Turn off Google Web HistoryGoogle web history settings

  1. Go to the web page https://history.google.com
  2. Sign in to your Google account if you aren’t already signed in.
  3. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner (example shown in figure on the right).
  4. Choose “Settings”’
  5. The page that opens contains the section shown in the figure below.
  6. Click the button “Turn off” to stop Google collecting the data. If you change your mind, you can always turn Web History back on.

Delete items in Google Web History

  1. Previously collected data will still be there. To remove it, click the link contained in the word “delete” in the sentence, “You can also delete all past Google search activity or remove particular items from your recent activity.” The link is hard to see and I have highlighted it in yellow in the figure. 
  2. You will get a dialog box asking if you want to delete all items
  3. Click the button “Delete All”
  4. You can also delete only selected items by using the link contained in the phrase “recent activity” as indicated in the figure

Turning off Google Web History

What does Google do with this data? Why, they sell the information to advertisers, of course. Or maybe, they also give it to the government. Who knows?

Added later: If you have privacy concerns about Google search, consider the search engine StartPage, described in this tip.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

great tip, I have my web history turned off ( I have also have opted out of interest-based ads) but I discovered that they are still collecting information on me from my searches , if i look under my ad settings located here -> https://www.google.com/settings/ads/preferences?hl=en it shows they have still being collecting information on me from the websites I visit , I kept on deleting this information but it just kept reappearing back, it makes me feel sick that I'm being spied on like this , I know lot's of people say ' well if you've nothing to hide ' and I don't have anything to hide but it doesn't mean that I want it sharing all over the place I'm a very private person . So anyway I just had to give up on Google searches altogether and use Startpage instead . Google have also killed Youtube, I listen to a song on Youtube and the next day when I open Playstore on my Android phone Playstore / Google are trying to sell me the album it's too much tracking and i hate it ( and don't get started on the Google plus / YouTube integration it's looking like no matter how much I try no to I'm going to have to get a Google plus profile even so I hate it )

one might consider using Tor browser.

Good point very helpful

thanks you

Simply use Startpage instead of Google. Same results and highest privacy: even if searching while logged-in in Google, Startpage does not send any info to bigG and does not record your IP.

Thanks for the advice vic I do this anyway but I only started doing a couple of months and it's really good to share the knowledge with others in the light of all the creepy NSA and Prism news stories. I didn't use to use google products because of the tracking but then they bought You-tube and I bought an android phone and I needed a google account to use the playstore before I knew it also had an gmail account! I was using my yahoo email address to sigh in so I'm not even quite sure how I ended up with a gmail account?

Also:

1) use a VPN connection or equal so that your IP is not easily trackable

2) use CCleaner or equal to clean out your browser cache, form fills, cookies, etc ALL THE TIME eg every day or more. I also cleanup before I (rarely) use google and after. These are not nice people.

3) use Ghostery, Better Privacy and / or other cookie blockers

4) set your browser to remove the cache & cookies on exit and reject 3rd party cookies as defaults - note that this setting works well in Firefox but is borked in IE9/10 & Chrome as far as I can tell. It's almost like they want your cookies always present....hmmmm

Do not forget YouTube is owned by Google! They track every video you watch, even when it is embedded in another website, including Facebook!

Good info,,,thanks. Could you tell us how to do this for AOL and IE?

It seemed to me that I had done this a long time ago but I checked just now anyway and both are still off.

Thank you for posting this. Like others, I'm certainly opposed to all the Big Brother syndrome of corporations.

Presumably if you have to log-in to a Google account to do this, then it only turns off search recording for those times when you are logged in. That is, it does nothing to affect whether your activities are being recorded when you are not logged into one of your Google accounts. Am I right?

This turns off one particular tracking function. You are correct that there are other tracking methods that may be at work even when you are not logged in to Google.

Are we really stupid enough to believe Google (and Yahoo, and Microsoft, etc) actually stop collecting information like this just because we ask them to? Yeah, we're all warm and fuzzy now because we walked through a UI and clicked some buttons, but it's a UI they wrote. It literally could be doing anything other than deleting data and disabling collection.

lunchbeast

or you can use duckduckgo.com instead of google for internet search ;)

Better yet, use StartPage; it's not based in the US, so it's not subject to NSA whims.

This post made me literally LOL, as the OP'er sees it as a good thing the search engines not based in the US.

echo --sarcastic_tone "Oh yes much better to based in some backwater 3rd world cesspool dictatorship where what ever crazed psychopath that's in charge this month can tap into your collected data and feed it to their cyber war division to do God knows what with."

Come on now, America is far from perfect but when compaired to the governments of the rest of the world, I'll take my chances with US and their NSA

Both Startpage and DuckDuckGo are hosted in the US, so while they may not have stored much data about you themselves, the Feds can still tap into all traffic going to and from their sites.

SSL has been shown to have a number of weaknesses recently, and I think it's reasonable to suspect that the NSA can read SSL traffic if they want to. Also I've read that DuckDuckGo doesn't host their own servers, so they might not know or be able to prevent someone putting a tap on their equipment. (I don't know if StartPage are in the same boat.)

I have turned of history again and again and again. It always turns back on just as opting out of Google ads never seems to last more than a week.

I turned off the Web History long ago and it never came back. Maybe you are deleting a cookie that indicates the setting.

Good point, thank you. I'll check that

Thanks sooo much for this Vic.

It's not that I have much to hide, but I think it's such an affront and threat when big and powerful corporations like Google or Microsoft (or whomsoever) feel they can just trample on a person's Right to Privacy and collect information for their own ends. That's what ticks me off! Just to show it's NOT alright to collect my information, I'll be implementing your tip.