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How to force Google to automatically delete the information it saves about what you do online

Key Points
  • Google began rolling out a feature this week that will automatically delete some of the data it has on you after either 18 months or after 3 months.
  • This means it won't have any data from before that time, and it will continue to automatically delete any private information that's older.
  • We'll show you how to turn this on to stop Google from saving all of your web and app activity. Google will roll out additional controls this year.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Google has begun rolling out a feature that allows you to configure how long it can save data from all of the Google services you use, like maps, search and everything you do online.

Until now, you had to manually delete this data or turn it off entirely. Deleting it means Google doesn't always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you'll like, or where you might want to go.

Now, you can tell Google to automatically delete personal information after three months or 18 months. Here's how you can do that.

  • Visit myaccount.google.com and log in if you haven't already.
  • Choose "Data & Personalization" on the left-side panel.
  • Select the arrow next to "Web & App Activity."
  • Choose "Manage Activity."
  • Select "Choose to delete automatically."
  • Select either 18 months or three months.
Choose how long you want Google to keep your information before it's automatically deleted.
Google

I recommend selecting three months, since providing as little information as possible is probably the best for privacy. But Google's activity page says this: "The activity you keep can improve your experience anywhere you use your Google Account. What you search, read and watch can work together to help you get things done faster, discover new content and pick up where you left off."

Google said Tuesday it will expand these controls to make them easier to find inside of its apps. But for now, this is the quickest and easiest way to manage your privacy. Also, Google said it will roll out similar controls this week for how it tracks your location, so look for that soon.

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How to find out everything that Google knows about you