How to delete your Google search history

How to permanently delete Google search history

It knows you better than you know yourself. It knows every smartphone you’ve thought about buying, video you’ve watched on YouTube, 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.

If you’ve ever thought about clearing your Google search history before, 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.

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


Jump to…

Download all your Google data
How to delete your browser search history on a computer
How to delete your browser search history on a mobile
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

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 online 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 (even if you’ve been clearing your browser search history regularly).

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. Might be  clever, but this is also an incredible loss of your privacy.

You can stop Google’s data collection by disabling Google’s ability to track you.

Before you begin: Back up your Google Activity

In April 2015, Google quietly released a feature enabling you to download all of your Google data. Consider saving your search data before you delete and disable it forever.

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How to download and delete your Google search history

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.

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 "Download your data" page with "Next" button highlighted.

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

Google's "Customize archive format" screen, with the "Create archive" button highlighted.

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.

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How to delete your browser search history on a computer

Clearing your browser history is NOT the same as clearing your Google Web & App Activity. 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.

However, if you’re concerned about privacy and protecting your data, you should empty your browser cache regularly, which includes your Google search history as well as any stored cookies, logins, and passwords saved in your browser. 

Use these steps to delete your Google search history in any browser.

Delete your search history in Safari:

  1. In a Safari browser, navigate to the taskbar at the top of the screen, and click History.
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Clear History at the bottom.
  3. You can select the date range for stored Google searches to delete. To clear your entire browser search history, select All history, then click Clear History… 

Delete your search history in Firefox:

  1. Open a Firefox browser, navigate to the taskbar at the top of the screen, and click History… 
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Clear Recent History… 
  3. In Time range to clear:, select Everything
  4. To clear your entire browser search history, tick the appropriate box, as well as the boxes for any other information you want to clear from your history.  
  5. Click OK

Delete your search history in Chrome and Chromium:

  1. In a Chrome browser, click the three vertical dots (⋮) in the top-right of the screen. 
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Settings
  3. Scroll down to Privacy and security, click Clear browsing history.
  4. From the time range drop-down menu, select All time. Tick the box for Browsing history, and any other information you want to clear. 
  5. Click Clear data.

Delete your search history in Brave:

  1. In a Brave browser, click the three vertical lines (≡) in the top-right of the screen. 
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Settings
  3. Scroll down to Privacy and security, click Clear browsing history.
  4. Click on Advanced
  5. From the time range drop-down menu, select All time. Tick the box for Browsing history, and any other information you want to clear. 
  6. Click Clear data.

Delete your search history in Vivaldi:

  1. In a Vivaldi browser, click the Vivaldi menu logo in the top-left of the screen. 
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Tools then Delete Browsing Data
  3. From the Delete Data for: drop-down menu, select All Time. Tick the box for Browsing history, and any other information you want to clear. 
  4. Click Delete.

Delete your search history in Microsoft Edge:

  1. In an Edge browser, click the ellipses (…) in the top-right of the screen. Select Settings.
  2. On the left, click on Privacy, Search, and Services.
  3. Under Clear browsing data, click Choose What to Clear
  4. From the time range drop-down menu, select All Time. Tick the boxes for the information you want to clear from your browsing history.  
  5. Click Clear Now.

Delete your search history in Internet Explorer:

  1. In an Internet Explorer browser, click on the (⚙) symbol in the top-right of the screen.
  2. From the drop-down menu, move your cursor to Safety, and click Delete browsing history.
  3. Choose the information you want to clear from your browsing history, and click Delete.

How to delete your browser search history on a phone or tablet

Delete your Safari search history on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Settings, scroll down and tap Safari.
  2. Scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data. The setting should turn gray once your browser search history, cookies and cache have been deleted. 

Delete your Chrome search history on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. In a Chrome browser, tap the menu button (≡) at the bottom of the screen (on iPad, the menu will be at the top right).
  2. Tap More and then History from the bottom panel.
  3. Tap Edit 
  4. Select the entries you wish to delete
  5. Tap Delete
  6. Tap Done

Delete your search history on an Android device:

  1. In a Chrome browser, click the three vertical dots (⋮) in the top-right of the screen. 
  2. Depending on what you see in the drop-down menu:
    1. tap More if you don’t see History OR
    2. tap History
  3. Tap Clear browsing data.
  4. From the time range drop-down menu, select All time. Tick the box for Browsing history, and any other information you want to clear. 
  5. Click Clear data.

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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 across all your devices.

Delete your Google activity on your computer

1. Go to the My Activity page, select Delete activity by on the left-hand menu.

Select “Delete activity by”

2. You can choose how far back you want to delete your Google search history and activity. Select All time from the range of options to delete everything.

Delete all your Google data

3. Choose which Google services to delete your search history and activity from. Click the Select all option, then click Next.

Message from Google before you delete

4: Google will ask you if you want to confirm that you would like to delete your activity. Select DELETE.

Confirmation screen before deleting app activity for all time

5: Your screen should now say “Deletion complete.” Click OK.

No activity will appear.

Delete your Google search history and activity on your mobile device

  1. On your Android or iOS device, go to myactivity.google.com on a browser.
  2. Tap Menu > Delete activity by.
  3. Below “Delete Activity” tap All time.
  4. When asked which services to delete your activity from, make sure the Select All box is ticked.
  5. Tap Next > Delete.

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Delete your Google Maps search history

To see your Maps history before you delete your search history, follow the steps below.

  1. On your Android or iOS device, open the Google Maps app (or just Maps) and sign in.
  2. Tap your profile picture > Settings > Maps history.

On your computer

  1. Open Google Maps and sign in.
  2. Click Menu > Maps activity.
  3. On the right, click More > Delete activity by.
  4. Under the “Delete by date” section, select All time.
  5. Click Delete.

On your mobile device

  1. On your Android or iOS device, open the Google Maps app Maps and sign in.
  2. Tap your profile picture > Settings > Maps history.
  3. In the search bar at the top, tap More > Delete activity by.
  4. To delete all your history: Under the “Delete by date” section choose All time.
  5. Tap Delete.

Consider using an open-source alternative to Google Maps.

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How to stop (or “pause”) Google from saving your search history and 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.

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 "paused."

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

Google's "Pause Web & App Activity?" screen, with "Pause" button highlighted.

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 "Web & App Activity" screen, with the sliding toggle set to "paused."

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 "paused."
Mission accomplished! Google won’t be saving your search data anymore.

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What happens when you delete and disable your Google search history

It’s important to understand the consequences of clearing 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 Google search history, then your returning search results will be broader and less specific to you. So allrecipes.com won’t necessarily show up at the top of the results, even though it’s your favorite site.

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

If you delete and disable your search history, you are not invisible to Google—especially if you maintain an 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.

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Do more to protect your internet privacy

Deleting your Google search history is a great first step. Now if you REALLY want to step up your internet privacy game, here are more steps you can take:

  1. Ditch Chrome for a more secure web browser. From automatically signing you in to the browser to a fishy location history policy, Google uses Chrome to learn about you and then monetizes that information. Get rid of Chrome and use a secure web browser like Firefox or Brave that respects your privacy.
  2. Don’t stop at Google. There are many popular platforms that also track your activity like Facebook, Twitter, and more. Find out how to permanently delete online accounts that you no longer want to use.
  3. 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 sharing it with corporations and governments. Use ExpressVPN to hide your online activity from your ISP.

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Read more: Find out how to unblock Google in countries where it’s censored

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Caleb enjoys reading technology news, playing football, and consuming unwholesome amounts of steak. Preferably at the same time.