Ever think about how much Google knows about you?
It’s not just search. Your Gmail inbox, Google Drive files, Maps history, YouTube views, and much more are added to the dossier of info on you.
While this type of data collection is par for the course these days, you can delete almost everything you’ve shared with Google and get at least some of your privacy back.
Hide your address and phone number
Have you ever stumbled across your phone number, address, or another private detail online? It’s unsettling, and you can ask Google to stop displaying many things, including:
Confidential government identification (ID) like your Social Security number
Images of handwritten signatures
People are also reading…
Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
Confidential login credentials
If you want to put in a removal request with Google, follow these steps:
Check the requirements on the Google Search Removal page.
After ensuring that you qualify and have the necessary information, click on the Start removal request button.
Follow the on-screen instructions to request your details be removed.
You’ll get a confirmation email after you submit your request. Google will notify you once the request has been fulfilled, denied, or with any further steps you need to take.
Search is a goldmine of data
Google uses your search history to build a detailed profile about you. This personalizes ads and content you see.
Here’s how you can clear your search history and activity:
Go to myaccount.google.com and log in. Alternatively, go to google.com while logged in and click the circle icon in the upper right-hand corner with your image or initials inside. Then click Manage your Google Account.
Click Privacy & personalization to reach the Data & privacy page.
You will see checkmarks next to Web & App Activity, Location History and YouTube History. Click each one to adjust your settings. Toggle them off to stop further tracking if you choose.
On these pages, you can also set up Auto-delete for future activity.
Once you’ve followed these steps, your search history will be gone, but you’ll also have disabled tracking through apps, location history, and YouTube views.
Tell Google Assistant ‘No thanks’
Google Assistant makes it easy to set reminders, search with your voice, and lots more. Yes, Google keeps tabs on that activity.
You can delete stored recordings and other interactions. Here’s how:
Open your Google Account page.
From the left navigation panel, click on Data & privacy.
Under History settings, click Web & App Activity.
Look for See and delete activity. Click the Google Assistant icon, made up of four circles.
You’ll see a list of your past activity. You can click the X next to each item you want to delete, or you can click the word Delete, then choose to delete during a certain timeframe.
From this page, you can also set up Auto-delete, to remove these types of interactions automatically every 3 months, 18 months, or 36 months.
Don’t forget Chrome
If you use Google’s Chrome web browser, there’s a slew of info you’re handing over. As you’re doing a privacy checkup on the rest of your Google account, clear your Chrome browsing data, too.
Click the three-dot menu near the URL bar.
Hover over History and click on History at the top of the menu that appears.
Click Clear browsing data and select your date range for deletion.
Select the time range you want to wipe, from the past 24 hours to as early as the beginning of your browsing activity.