Google products are amazing to use. However, the company records nearly everything about you, right down from your search queries, travel destinations, to purchase receipts. While all of that data is generally used to provide a better experience when using certain Gooogle apps (such as Google News), the whole thing can creep out anybody.
But you have a choice when it comes to letting Google keep your data around or not. Your activity across all apps is accumulated into one gigantic heap in your Google Account. And it’s up to you to decide how you want to go about clearing things up — either automatically or manually.
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Provided that you are signed into a Google Account, any activity that you conduct using Google products and services is logged online. However, removing local data associated with an app (such as deleting your browser cache on Chrome) will not delete the data stored in your Google Account. Instead, you need to clear that separately.
Thankfully, Google recently implemented the ability to delete most of your data automatically. Let’s check out how you can configure your Google Account to do that, and then follow up with means to delete your data manually.
The majority of your data is recorded under the Web & App Activity section of your Google Account, which includes queries performed using Google Search, Maps, or News, to activities conducted on apps such as Google Lens or Assistant. You can specify your Google Account to clear out this data automatically. However, this will mean a less personalized experience when using Google products in the future.
Step 1: Visit the Web & App Activity section of your Google Account.
Step 2: Click the button labeled Choose to Delete Automatically.
Step 3: A pop-up box will show three different options, with Keep Until I Delete Manually enabled by default.
Select either the Keep for 18 Months or Keep for 3 Months option, the one that deletes data older than 18 months and 3 months respectively. Sadly, you can’t configure your Google Account to automatically remove data less older than 3 months.
Step 4: On the following screen, click Confirm. Depending on the option that you selected, any data older than 18 months or 3 months will be deleted automatically and will take place continuously from here on out.
Deleting data manually has its benefits. You can delete even your most recent activity, and you can also filter out specific types of data rather than removing everything en masse. That means you can still keep data recorded by certain apps or services if you don't want to miss out on the personalization factor in its entirety.
When it comes to deleting data manually, you can scroll down the Web & App Activity screen and delete recorded data entries individually. However, using the filtering controls instead translates to a much faster and precise experience.
Step 1: On the Web & App Activity panel of your Google Account, click the Filter By Date & Product option under the search bar.
Step 2: Use the various filtering controls to determine exactly what type of activity you want to view. Specify a time duration, select an app or a service, and then click Apply.
Step 3: You will see the filtered data immediately. You can further filter it out by adding specific keywords to the search bar at the top of the screen.
Either delete the entries of data one by one, or just click the three-dot icon next to the search bar, and then click Delete Results to remove all filtered data immediately.
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Other Google Data
There are also other forms of data that don’t fall under the Web & App Activity umbrella. These include your activity on YouTube, location data when using Google apps, voice, and audio-related data, etc. Sadly, there are no means to delete these data types automatically as of yet. At the time of writing, however, automatic removal options for location-based data is rolling out, so be on the lookout.
To access your other data, click the three-dot icon next to the Search bar within the Web & App Activity screen, and then click Other Google Activity.
On the subsequent screen, click on an activity control. Just like with your Web & App Activity data, you can either delete items individually or filter them out before doing so. An exception is your location data, where you can only delete everything in its entirety.
Tip: You can also find various types of miscellaneous data that you can delete, such as YouTube comments, likes or dislikes, Chrome history, etc., by scrolling further down the screen. Options to download your Google Account data is also present.
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Preserve Your Privacy
Google's constant attempts at data collecting does result in better products. However, it’s not a good idea to let any company have access to so much personal information. Hence, make maximum use of your Google Account’s activity controls to preserve your privacy as and when you see fit. But always keep in mind that deleting your data will cut down on the overall convenience and personalization that Google apps and services bring to the table.
Next up: Hate those personalized ads by Google? Learn how you can just turn them off without having to delete your data.