Delete your Google history before Thursday – here’s how

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If you have a Google account (such as a Gmail email account, or a YouTube account), you should have already been receiving notices that Google’s privacy policy is changing.  You have until March 1 (this Thursday) to delete your Google browsing history for any of your Google accounts.  After that, the only way you can opt out of Google using this information is to close the account completely.

Google privacy

You can read Google’s newly revised Privacy Policy here.

If you change your account settings before Thursday, Google will be unable to associate any data collected about you with your Gmail, YouTube or other Google accounts.   Otherwise, any data collected about you will be associated with your online Google accounts.  This includes:

  • search queries
  • age
  • gender
  • sites visited
  • location

Changing your account settings in Google is easy:

1. Go to and sign in with your user name and password

2. Find your name  or email in the top right section of the page, and click the drop-down menu next to it

3. Click on “Account Settings”

4. Find the section called “Services”

5. Next to “View, enable or disable web history” click on the link that says “Go to web history” (you may be required to sign in again at this point)

Google privacy

6. Click the button that says “Remove all web history” then click OK on the following screen to confirm.

Google privacy

 Remember, you only have until Thursday, March 1 to make this change.

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February 28th, 2012

Thank you Scott, I would never have known that it is possible to do this if I was not subscribed to your newsletter. I will forward it to subscribers of my newsletter as well.

Betty Lou Jones
February 28th, 2012

I dont understand what this is all about!

Joan Peterson
February 28th, 2012

That’s great for past searches, but what about the future? Does this mean that any searches in the future cannot be cleaned out unless I delete my account? Or am I misunderstanding? Why should I care? I can’t say I’ve ever cleaned out anything on Google. Does it matter? Do you detect a certain confusion at this end?

Scott Johnson
February 28th, 2012

When you delete your web history, at the same time you will see that your web history with Google is put into “Pause” mode so that no more history is recorded unless you “un-pause” it. That is the way I would leave it.

February 28th, 2012

Hi. When i click ‘ go to web history’ next to View, enable or disable web history, it comes up asking if i want to turn web history on. Does that mean its already off and i dont need to do anything? or do i click turn on then follow your next steps?

February 29th, 2012

Thank you once again Scott. We can always count on you!
My available options were “Turn Web History On” & “No thanks”, as I never accepted the recommendation to turn it on when prompted to. As I understand it, this will presumably remove past browsing history, and prevent future browsing history collection, however are there other Google activities we should be concerned about such as Google+, Maps, Earth, etc?

Scott Johnson
February 29th, 2012

Correct – if it is already off, you’re all set.

Scott Johnson
February 29th, 2012

If you just click “No thanks”, you’re fine. This covers all of the Google services, but the ones most closely related to privacy concerns is the web browsing and search.

February 29th, 2012

Many thanks Scott. You always have interesting, helpful information on your newsletter, but this tip was especially appreciated. BTW, I also downloaded “Prey” Laptop Recovery Software as you suggested recently. That was another very helpful tip.

I do have a couple of questions…
You said in your reply above… “This covers all of the Google services, but the ones most closely related to privacy concerns is the web browsing and search.”

Q1: As I understand it, the instructions above take care of the “web history” on the Google servers. If I want to remove my “web browsing history”, I’ll have to manually remove that from my computer periodically, since that is the only place my “web browsing” is kept. I notice you occasionally use the term “web browsing” and I’m afraid I’m missing something. Can you clarify if I should do anything in particular with my “web browsing history”?

Q2: You followed “web browsing…” with “…and search.” Is there anything I should be doing regarding the search function?

These companies cloak their more important agendas in legalese which prevents the average person from grasping their real intent. Grrr…. I guess I am looking for reassurance. LOL

Again, thank you for a most helpful newsletter.


Scott Johnson
February 29th, 2012

Good question. You need to differentiate between clearing your web history with Google, and clearing it from your computer. All we are doing in this process is clearing the information from Google’s server. The web history that is stored on your computer is a separate issue – you can keep that or delete it, your choice. Google doesn’t see that information anyway. Same thing applies to web searches.

March 1st, 2012

Good Morning Scott,

I just wanted to say many thanks for your email alert concerning the Google privacy changes that have come into effect from today March 1st. I followed the guide you provided as soon as I read your message and, I’m very grateful for it as I expect thousands of other folk are.

You may be interested to learn that in their wisdom this morning, on their ‘TODAY’ programme, ‘BBC Radio-4’ informed the British public about it (when it was too late of course!) They interviewed Google’s European CEO who ‘waffled’ a lot in an attempt at trying to convince the public that it was for their benefit!

Anyway Scott, I’ve received your weekly newsletter for years and I wanted to say a big ‘thank you!’