How to Delete Everything Google Knows About You


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

It’s your Google Web & App History, and it knows everything you’ve searched for… dating way back to 2005. Yikes!

This post will teach you how to permanently delete your Google Web & App History so as 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 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 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, delete, and disable your Google Web & App History
Download your entire Google Web & App History
Delete your entire Google Web & App History
Disable (or “pause”) your entire Google Web & App History
Know the consequences of deleting & 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

This guide is also available in pdf format.

At ExpressVPN, we believe what you do on the Internet is private. We don’t think anybody should be keeping tabs on what you do online—not without your knowledge and permission, anyway.

Unless you’ve disabled it, Google’s Web & App History 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

Before you proceed to delete and disable your Google Web & App History, you should know that Google secretly released a feature allowing you to download your entire search history. If you’re feeling sentimental (sniff), you might want to consider downloading your search history before you delete and disable it forever.

How to download, delete, and disable your Google Web & App History

To download your entire Google Web & App History:

Step 1: From your Web & App History page, click the vertical ellipsis (⋮).select-options

Step 2: Click Download searches from the drop-down

Step 3: You’ll see a window confirming that you want to “Download a copy of your data.” Read the important information before you proceed. Then click on CREATE ARCHIVE.create-archive

Step 4: A message will appear telling you that Google is preparing your archive. Click

Step 5: Check your email. A link to your archive should be there.access-archive

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To delete your entire Google Web & App History:

Step 1: From your Web & App History page, click the vertical ellipsis (⋮), then click Delete options from the drop-down menu.delete-options

Step 2: You’ll see a “Delete Web & App Activity for:” menu. Select Advanced and then choose All time from the drop-down list. Next, click DELETE.delete-history

Step 3: Google will ask if you are sure you want to delete your web & app activity. Keep in mind that deleted items cannot be recovered! Click DELETE to proceed.confirm-delete

Step 4: After the process is completed, you should see that there are “No items to show” in your Google Web & App Activity.deleted-history

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To disable (or “pause”) your entire Google Web & App History

Step 1: From your Web & App History page,click the vertical ellipsis (⋮), then click Settings from the drop-down

Step 2: On the “Account controls” page, there is a blue switch next to “Your searches and browsing activity.” Slide the switch to the left.switch-left

Step 3: You’ll see a window asking, “Pause Web & App Activity?” Read the important information before your proceed. Then click PAUSE.pause-history

Step 4: Your “Account history” page should say that your search and browsing activity is paused, and the switch should be gray.pause-history

Step 5: If you want to go a little further, you can tell Google to “pause” all of the other history it logs from the other Google apps and services you use. This includes the places you go, information from your devices, and your YouTube watch history. To access these settings, click on SHOW MORE 6: Slide all the switches to the left. After you slide each switch, you will see a confirmation message asking if you would like to pause each activity. Read the important information for each item, then click Pause to complete the process.

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Know the consequences of deleting & 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 more frequently than all other websites, then Google will rank 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 won’t 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 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!

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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!

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Want more help with de-cluttering your online life? Check out our 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 your Yahoo Mail account

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

41 thoughts on “How to Delete Everything Google Knows About You

          1. Hi Pradeep,
            Did you follow the steps in the guide Let us know if you have any problems with it.

  1. Thanks very much for this clear and helpful post!

    Do you know if deleting all your history also actually deletes it with Google or do they still hold their own copy of your behaviour for their own (or governments’) purposes?

    What can / do they store if you are not logged in to any Google account?


    1. I’m curious about that as well. As far as I know this doesn’t delete everything as google will still keep records for auditing purposes. Googles latest policy is that they will anonymize the last octet of your IP address after 9 months (This could prevent someone from identifying you but they could still isolate your locality). Within 18 months they will anonymize cookies with a HMAC key hash function using a randomly generated key for each day of logs that will get deleted immediately after anonymization. These practices also applies to back-ups on tapes. How long google keeps the anonymized data there-after I’m not really sure. If you have or had a google account (gmail, etc.) they have two independent systems. The web search server will log a query without your Account ID or email and at the same time your Web History Database is updated with the search query. This can prevent third parties from identifying you but wont do much for government or law enforcement. If you wish to delete your account it could take up to 90 days at which point everything is wiped but the email address since google does not recycle them. This is my best understanding of the policy.

      1. Kyle. You said that if you delete your account it takes up to 90 days. I wonder what your source is? Interested to know…

  2. Hello, thank you for this wonderful article!
    I read that if you upload a picture in the Search By Image function of Google, Google will also store those pictures.
    Do you know if these get deleted as well?
    Thank you!

  3. I’m confused what if you don’t even have a google account so you’re never logged in? Then there’s no where to go to delete the history associated with your ip address?

  4. Thank you for this excellent article and instructions. I went to my activity (didn’t even realize that I had a Google account before I tried to log in) and found there was almost nothing in my history. Today’s Google searches did not show – basically nothing except 13 old searches or YouTube viewings from February and April. Nothing came up under web activity (because I use FireFox instead of Chrome?) Did I miss something that might be there or are they keeping less than everyone thinks?

  5. I have tried to delete all my google activity to no avail.
    I went into my google account and to Activity and deleted every single item from 2014-2016 today. It asked me to verify by delete-delete.
    I turned off my iPad several times.
    I went back and did the deleting procedure again.
    The whole history IS STILL THERE!!!!
    I am frantic because I cannot deal with illogical situations.
    Any ideas, please?

  6. Could you please by return email send simple instructions to delete permanently total browsing history on Google as i cannot understand your current delete site instructions thanks Harry

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