How to delete Google search history on Android, iPhone and Chrome

It’s okay to want to keep your search history safe from Google.

Google has been in the ‘data-security’ news quite a lot recently and not always in a good way. From leaking its own products to leaking customer data and even collecting the personal information of people who use Google apps, people are learning to be wary of the way data is being used by Google.

Even if you don’t own an Android phone you probably three or four of Google’s services each day, and so the company knows alot about you. This includes your work commute and shopping habits, even if you used the services offline.

This doesn’t mean Google is trying to stalk you personally (except you, Paul, they’re closing in on you) as the information is stored anonymously. It’s primary function is so that advertisers understand demographics, in order to better target advertisements. However if you’ve been looking at things you shouldn’t, or just don’t want sites being able to extract your private information, there are ways to delete the Google history stored on your devices.

There are a number of alternative methods to stay anonymous online too, which are listed at the bottom of the article. These include switching to DuckDuckGo or even getting access to the dark web and dark websites.

Delete Google history

In the past, keeping track of exactly what Google knew about you was pretty tricky. Now, though, Google has an opt-in service known as “My Activity”, a page where you can see everything Google has learnt about you, all in one place. It’s basically like a web browser history, except this time it’s dialled up to 11.

You can, of course, delete Google history data via your browser and we explain how below, but My Activity shows a much wider, informative view, plus it makes it easy to clear individual elements of your Google history in a matter of clicks.  

Once you’ve opted into My Activity, you’ll be able to remove as much or as little of your Google data as you like, and it’s relatively easy to do.

Delete Google history using MyActivity

1. To delete the Google history stored on your phone, tablet or laptop, go to your My Activity page by clicking here.

You’ll need to be signed into a Google account to access this page. If you’re not, you will be prompted to sign in. We don’t advise doing this if you’re using a public computer, or you must at least remember to sign back out when you’ve finished browsing. 

2. The page is divided into sections. At the top is a search bar which lets you search for particular types of data, or websites. If you’ve been browsing a gift website for a loved one and you want all traces removed, try searching for the URL (or at least parts of it). The results, broken down by date, will appear below. You can manually clear the Google history by pressing the menu button (denoted by three dots in a vertical row to the right of the site’s name) and clicking Delete, or you can expand to see more Details. 

Alternatively, to clear the Google history of all these results, press the menu button to the right of the search bar and select Delete results.

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3. Alternatively, you can filter the results by data type. These types include Google Assistant, Google Books, Google Play Store, Ads, YouTube, Maps, Shopping and more. Expand the “Filter by date and product” menu and either select All, or untick the All box and manually pick which data types to delete. Once you’re happy, click Apply. This menu also lets you narrow down the dates the Google history data was stored. 

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4. You can also access a similar menu by clicking the “Delete activity by” option on the left-hand side of the screen. On a phone, this option is hidden in the left-hand menu and can be accessed by pressing the three lines in the top left-hand corner of the screen. This is a less cluttered version of the above menu, but still gives you the option to select which data types you want to delete and over which time period. 

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5. To clear the Google history recorded from the start of your Google account, click “Today”, select “All time”, then Delete. 

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If this is the first time you’ve cleared your Google history, you’ll get a warning that explains how Google can use your data to improve its services. But if you still want to delete your Google history, click OK, and you’re done.

Clear the Google history on your browser

To wipe just your search browsing history, cookies and your cache on Chrome, click the Chrome menu in the top left-hand corner of your browser window and select Clear Browsing Data. A new tab will open from which you can choose from Basic or Advanced tools. Basic is a way to quickly clear the Google history while Advanced gives you more control over the individual elements. 

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From Basic you can delete your Google browsing history from all signed-in devices, clear cookies and other site data (which will sign you out of most sites), and delete cached images and files. This is useful for freeing up space, especially if your browser is running a little slow, but can cause sites to load more slowly the next time you use them. 

Stay anonymous online

If you’re super keen on protecting your privacy or want to guarantee a greater level of online anonymity you can do the following:

Use Google’s Incognito mode

In Google, go to File | New Incognito Window. This will open a new window that will appear dark grey and show a spy icon. Everything you do on Incognito is not stored on your history and as soon as you close the window, your searches vanish. 

Use DuckDuckGo

If you want to ditch Google completely, swtich to DuckDuckGo the so-called “privacy-conscious search engine.”

Unlike other search engines, when you click on a link through DuckDuckGo the site you are sent to knows nothing about the words you used to find it. Your data is also not collected for advertising purposes as DuckDuckGo makes money based on the keywords a user searches for, rather than the details of the person.

Access the dark web

Getting dark web access is not as scary as it sounds, it’s just not as simple as the top options above. Learn more about the dark web, how to use it and the best dark websites.

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