Tip: Auto-Delete Web and App Activity from Google

Posted on May 13, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 15 Comments

Last week, Google announced that it would allow users to auto-delete web and app activity from their Google accounts on a schedule. That capability is now available, and a similar control for location history is coming soon.

“Privacy controls should be easy to find and use,” Google’s Eric Miraglia wrote in the announcement about this new functionality. “Last year, we made it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within Search. Last week we announced a new control that lets you choose a time limit for the amount of time your Location History and Web and App Activity data will be saved—3 or 18 months. Any data older than that will be automatically and continuously deleted from your account if you choose. This new control is available today for Web & App Activity and coming next month to Location History.”

Here’s how to review this option and configure it to automatically delete your web and app activity over time, if you’d like.

Using your web browser of choice, navigate to the Google Account website and sign-in if required. Then, select Data and Personalization in the navigation pane on the left. Under Activity controls, expand the view for “Web & App Activity.” Now, select “MANAGE ACTIVITY.”

By default, your web and app activity is kept until you delete it manually. To change this behavior, select “Choose to delete automatically.” In the resulting dialog, you can choose between:

  • Keep until I delete manually (the default)
  • Keep for 18 months then delete automatically
  • Keep for 3 months then delete automatically

Select the one you prefer and then select Next and then Got it. You’re done.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Tip: Auto-Delete Web and App Activity from Google”

  1. wright_is

    Just a quick point, the option top left of the page in your images ("Delete activity by") allows you to set a delete filter. You can set it to a specific date and say anything before (E.g. Today) should be deleted or after a date.

    I deleted all my activity last week (previously I'd been deleting it manually, but deleting it a day at a time over the last 10 - 15 years is a long and slow process, I'm not sure if the option appeared with this change or whether it appeared a while back, I know that I didn't see it when I started deleting my history 2 years ago) and have not only paused all tracking (it has been off for the last 18 months), but with auto delete after 3 months. So, theoretically, Google doesn't track anything I do and what it does track gets deleted after 3 months.

    • madthinus

      In reply to wright_is:

      Google is still tracking you, it is just not tracking you by associating your gmail account with your profile it has generated for you.

      • wright_is

        In reply to madthinus:

        At work, yes, not at home. There I have my own DNS server, which has most Google (and Facebook & Co.) and many other 3rd party tracking sites blacklisted...

        But, yes, you can't get 100% away from them. I don't use Google services on my PC (other than watching 3 YouTube channels) and on my Android phone most of the Google services are disabled. There is only so much you can do.

  2. waethorn

    Can we trust that this data is actually removed from Google's datacenters and out of their monetization cycle though? I mean, when you have companies like Facebook claim that they would never sell your data for ad money, and Android phones not having a real switch to completely disable WiFi or location services.

  3. dontbe evil

    Auto-Delete Web and App Activity from Google

    yeah, sure, sure sure, really!!!!

  4. creugea7

    So..... I logged into mine and Web and App activity is paused. Does this mean nothing is being tracked??? I have the same setting for location, voice and audio activity, & device info. If this is the case, isn't this the better solution??

    • wright_is

      In reply to creugea7:

      Yes, having everything paused is the better option. But I still set mine to delete after 3 months. I still check my settings regularly. It is amazing how often a dialog option will trip you up and turn something back on again.

  5. Awhispersecho

    So basically the only thing that has changed is that you can now delete the history that appears on your device or under your account. If anyone believes for a second that Google is actually permanently deleting all the history they have on you when you say so they have another thing coming. No way they are doing that.

  6. cburick

    How accurate is the web and app activity?

  7. martinm

    I went through this exercise to purge my data from them. EVERYONE should be concerned about this level of tracking. Everyone. This is truly concerning.

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