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 use three or four of Google’s services each day, and so the company knows a lot 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 as the information is stored anonymously. Its 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 learned about you, all in one place. It’s basically like a web browser history, except this time it’s dialed 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: Web Browser
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 in to 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.
You can choose to filter the activity before deletion by date or type of data. Click on any of the options on the right-hand side of the webpage to begin the deletion process. Choose Item View for a chronological list of data that Google has collected.
Tap the small trashcan in the upper right-hand corner and the data for that range will automatically delete. There is no pop-up confirmation box so be mindful before deleting any information you may need.
Use the Delete activity by option on the left-hand side to access a year’s worth of data. 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.
To clear the Google history recorded from the start of your Google account, click Today, select All time, then Delete.
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 in Google Chrome
To wipe just your search browsing history, cookies, and your cache on Chrome, follow along.
- Click the Chrome menu in the top left-hand corner of your browser window.
- Now, select Settings from the options, you can also type ‘chrome://settings‘ into the Search bar and hit Enter.
- Next, click on Clear browsing data, located under Privacy and security.
- A new tab will open from which you can choose from Basic or Advanced tools. Basic is a way to quickly clear Google history while Advanced gives you more control over the individual elements, such as passwords.
From the Basic tab, 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.
Clear Google History on an Android
On your Android device open Google Chrome and follow these steps:
- Tap on the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner.
2. Now, tap History.
3. Next, tap Clear browsing data… in the new window.
4. Confirm when finished.
All of your Google search history and website history will disappear after performing these steps, so make sure you saved any sites, data, etc. elsewhere.
Clear Google History on an iPhone
For iPhone users, open Google history and follow these steps to clear your history:
- Tap More in the lower left-hand corner.
2. Next, tap on History.
3. Then, tap Clear Browsing Data… on Cookies and iMessage Search History.
All of your browsing history on your iPhone in Chrome will be deleted after performing the steps shown above.
Set Up Auto-Delete
Google does offer an option to automatically dump your data. If you prefer to keep some data, it’s best to avoid this function. However, if you feel like manually deleting your Google data is a hassle, visit the Google Activity page and follow these steps to set up the auto-delete function:
- Select the Auto-delete (Off) option under the Web & App Activity section of the activity page.
2. Choose the frequency you’d like to have data deleted and select Next.
3. The next page will review some of the activity Google will delete if you continue. Assuming you’re ok with it, click Continue and a confirmation page will appear.
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, you can also type Ctrl + Shift + N. 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.
Note, this method only sends a do not track flag to websites and third-party trackers, so it’s up to them to honor the request.
While it’s a great way to keep your search history clear, using any incognito or private mode in a browser doesn’t mask your IP address, it only keeps certain data from being stored long-term on the device in use.
If you want to ditch Google completely, switch 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.
Another great alternative is StartPage, they’re also a privacy based search engine that anonymizes search queries and offers an anonymous viewing option that helps against tracking, malicious code execution and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some more answers to your questions about Google Activity and your online privacy.
I want to save my passwords but delete everything else. How can I do this?
If you’re deleting all of your Google data, it is possible to de-select the option under Clear Browsing Data for clearing passwords. But, if you want more security you can use a browser extension such as Last Pass to store all of your passwords in a secure location.
Similar to Google or Chrome storing these passwords for you, Last Pass will auto-fill the passwords for you.
Can I permanently close my Google account?
Yes. If you’re no longer interested in using your current Google account, you can permanently delete it. We do have an article here that explains the entire process.
If you visit the Google Account webpage, you can click on the option to download all of your data and then delete your entire Google account and everything that goes with it.
Just keep in mind, performing this action will completely wipe out all of your Google-related information. This includes Google Docs, emails, contacts, and more. If you’re using an Android device, you’ll need to create or use another Google account to access many of the features and backup your device.
Deleting Your Search History from Google
A fairly easy process, deleting your Google search history through MyActivity or just using the built-in Google Chrome tools requires at most two minutes of time.
Were you experiencing browser issues that weren’t resolved until you cleared your browser history? Do you have concerns about the data stored by Google? Feel free to share your thoughts below.