Sådan slettes alt, hvad Google ved om dig

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It knows you better than you know yourself. It knows every smartphone you’ve thought about buying, every co-worker you’ve tried to find dirt on, every embarrassing ailment you’ve suffered…

It’s your Google Activity (formerly known as Google Web & App History), and it knows everything you’ve searched for… dating back to 2005. Yikes!

This post will teach you how to permanently delete your Google history to enhance your internet privacy and prevent your search and browsing data from following you around forever.

Note: Clearing your browser history is NOT the same as clearing your Google Web & App Activity history. When you clear your browser history, you’re only deleting the history that’s locally stored on your computer. Clearing your browser history doesn’t do anything to the data stored on Google’s servers.

Warning: If you use G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work), it is vital that you find out your company’s acceptable use and data retention policies before you delete anything!

Jump to…

How to: 
> Download all your Google data
> Delete all your Google activity
> Stop (or “pause”) Google from saving your activity
Know the consequences of deleting and disabling your Google search history
Deleting and disabling your history does NOT make you invisible to Google
Do more to protect your internet privacy

What you do online is YOUR business—and yours alone

ExpressVPN believes what you do on the internet is private. Nobody should be keeping tabs on what you do online—not without your knowledge and permission, anyway.

Unless you’ve disabled it, Google Activity has been keeping a record of your search and browsing activity for the last decade. It knows every link you’ve followed, every image you’ve clicked on, and the URLs you’ve entered in the address bar.

Google uses all this data to construct a profile about you, including your age, gender, languages, and interests, and filters search results and ads for you based on your profile. Pretty clever, right? But this is also an incredible invasion of your privacy.

Don’t let your Google search history haunt you forever.

Back up your Google Activity before you delete everything

In April 2015, Google quietly released a feature enabling you to download all of your Google data. If you’re feeling sentimental (sniff), you might want to consider downloading your search data before you delete and disable it forever.

How to download and delete your Google search history and stop Google from saving your activity

How to download all your Google data

Google’s Takeout feature lets you download data from all of the Google products you use, including your Google Search history, Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, Google Photos, Maps, and more. Here’s how to use Takeout to download all your Google data.

Step 1: Go to the Google Takeout “Download your data” page and select the data you’d like to download. By default, all of the boxes are selected. Select Next.

Google's

Step 2: Select your archive format and delivery method, then select Create archive. (We stuck with the default settings.)

Google's

Step 3: You’ll receive a notification when the archiving process is complete. In this example, we received an email with a link to download our archive.

Google sent an email with a link to download your archive.

Now that you’ve downloaded an archive of your data, you’re ready to delete your history.

How to delete all your Google activity

Use these steps to delete data about all your Google activity, including your searches, video searches, and any ads you’ve clicked on.

Step 1: Go to the My Activity page, select the vertical ellipsis (⋮), then select Delete activity by.

Google's vertical ellipsis drop-down menu with

Step 2: Change the date from Today to All time. Select All products from the product drop-down menu, then select DELETE.

The Google archive delete screen with

Step 3: Google will tell you how it uses your data to make its services more useful for you. Select OK.

Google's

Step 4: Google will ask you if you want to delete your activity. Select DELETE.

Google's

Step 5: Your screen should now say “No activity.”

Google's

Congratulations. You’ve now deleted your Google search history. Here’s to blank slates! Next up: Get Google to stop saving your activity.

How to stop (or “pause”) Google from saving your activity

Google doesn’t provide a way to permanently disable it from saving your activity, but you can hit pause. Use these steps to hit pause on Google saving your activity.

Step 1: Go to the Activity controls page, where you’ll see a section for “Web & App Activity.” Slide the switch to the left.

Google's Web & Activity screen, highlighting how to slide the toggle to

Step 2: Google will ask if you’d like to pause your Web & App Activity. Select PAUSE.

Google's

Step 3: Check to see if your activity is paused. The screen should say “Web & App Activity (paused)” and the sliding toggle should be gray.

Google's

Step 4: If you want to hit “pause” on Google logging your activity on ALL the Google apps and services you use, slide all the switches on this page to the left.

Read the important information for each item and select PAUSE to complete each step.

A series of Google activity screens, with each toggle set to
Mission accomplished! Google won’t be saving your search data anymore.

Know the consequences of deleting and disabling your Google search history

It’s important to understand the consequences of deleting your Google search history.

By default, Google personalizes your search results based on your search activity. So if you search for recipes and click on links from allrecipes.com more frequently than all other websites, then Google will rank allrecipes.com higher up on the search results page every time you look up a recipe.

If you delete and disable your history, then your returning search results will be broader and less specific to you. So allrecipes.com won’t show up at the top of the results, even though it’s your favorite site.

Deleting and disabling your history does NOT make you invisible to Google

If you delete and disable your history, you are not invisible to Google—especially if you maintain a Google account for using various Google apps and services, such as Gmail and YouTube.

The reality is that it’s pretty much impossible to be invisible to Google. But you can be prudent. Start by eliminating all Google apps and services from your daily web use. And use search engines that don’t track your search activity, such as DuckDuckGo, Ixquick, and Startpage.

But if your heart is set on being as invisible to Google as you can possibly be, then don’t use the internet. Ever. (Even then you’ll need to jump into the bushes if the Google Street View vehicle is nearby.)

escaped convict caught on google maps

Caught on Google Street View: No bushes in sight for this guy to dive into!

Do more to protect your internet privacy

Now if you REALLY want to step up your internet privacy game, here are more steps you can take.

  1. Use ExpressVPN. While “pausing” Google Web & App History prevents Google from collecting data about you, it doesn’t prevent your ISP from tracking what you’re doing online and potentially sharing it with corporations and governments. To hide your online activity from your ISP, use a VPN like ExpressVPN.
  2. Use Tor Browser. Tor hides your location and online activities from anybody doing network surveillance or traffic analysis, so your internet activity is difficult to trace back to you. It’s one of your best bets for maintaining anonymity online. To maximize the effectiveness of Tor, be sure to read these tips: Want Tor to really work?

Safe browsing, everyone!

Declutter your online life

Want more help with decluttering your online life? Check out ExpressVPN’s guides on:

  • Deleting Chrome extensions
  • Deleting Dropbox
  • Deleting your Facebook account
  • Deleting Facebook Messenger
  • Deleting Find My iPhone, Find My iPad, and Find my Mac
  • Deleting your Gmail account
  • Deleting your Google photos
  • Deleting your hard drive browsing history
  • Deleting your Instagram account
  • Deleting your Internet Explorer history
  • Deleting your Pokémon Go account
  • Deleting Safari
  • Deleting your Snapchat account
  • Deleting your Tinder account
  • Deleting your Twitter account
  • Deleting WhatsApp Messenger
  • Deleting your Yahoo Mail account

Featured image: Thomas Lefebvre / Unsplash (image has been modified)

Sådan slettes alt, hvad Google ved om dig
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