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A computer user poses in front of a Google search page in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014. Google has taken the first steps to meet a European ruling that citizens can have objectionable links removed from Internet search results, a ruling that pleased privacy campaigners but raised fears that the right can be abused to hide negative information. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3RK9T











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Triana Kalmanoff

Triana Kalmanoff

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Here’s how you can see and delete your entire Google search history

Nation


Google now allows you to download an archived list of everything you have ever searched for.

The tech giant has been working on the feature since last year, but it only gained wide-spread attention after it was reported by an unofficial Google Operating Systems Blog last week.

The downloadable collection comprises of terms users have “googled,” including information that may be more sensitive, such as medical symptoms or the names of blind dates.

“You can download all of your saved search history to see a list of the terms you’ve searched for,” according to Google’s website . “This gives you access to your data when and where you want.”

The list does not stop at Google’s search engine function. It also includes documentation of searches within users’ email accounts and addresses that may have been typed into Google Maps. The range of personal information available has given rise to concerns over the databases’ potential vulnerability.

Google has said the company is aware of the dangers associated with storing an extensive amount of personal information on home computers and warns users with a message before they download their entire search archive, asking users to “please read this carefully, it’s not the usual yada yada,” normally seen in warning messages.

“If you have decided to take your data elsewhere, please research the data export policies of your destination,” the message reads. “Otherwise, if you ever want to leave the service, you may have to leave your data behind.”

Here’s how you can download your Google history:

Step 1: Sign into your Google account.

Step 2: View your Web & App Activity

Step 3: In the top right corner of the page, click the cog icon and select “Download.”

Step 4: Click “Create Archive.”

Step 5: When your personal archive is ready to be downloaded, Google will send you an email. You can then view the archive in the “Takeout Folder” of your Google Drive. You can also choose to download the list as a zip of JSON files onto your computer.

Here’s how you can delete your Google history:

Step 1: Sign into your Google account.

Step 2: View your Web & App Activity

Step 3: In the top right corner of the page, click the cog icon and select “Remove Items.”

Step 4: Choose time period for which you want to delete items. To delete your entire history, select “The Beginning of Time.”

Step 5: Click “Remove.”

There are also options to delete individual search items, searches that have occurred in more recent periods, and searches from mobile or tablet devices.

But just because a user deletes his or her search history, that does not mean that it disappears completely.

Searches “are no longer associated with your Google Account.” However, the company writes , Google may “store activity separately to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services.”

Left:
A computer user poses in front of a Google search page in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014. Google now allows you to download an archived list of everything you have ever searched for. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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Triana Kalmanoff

Triana Kalmanoff

Triana Kalmanoff is an intern at PBS NewsHour Weekend.

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