You Can Instruct Your Google & YouTube Search History To Delete Itself — Here's How

by Syeda Khaula Saad
Originally Published: 
Woman with laptop home sitting sofa using internet

If you'd like to clean up the Google and YouTube search histories that have been accumulating since you were in middle school, then you're in luck. On Oct. 2, Google announced an update to features that put you in control of what happens to your searches over time. You might not have realized it, but Google privacy tools let you auto-delete search history — all with the click of a button.

On its privacy policy page, Google explains why it collects the data it does from you in the first place:

We collect information to provide better services to all our users — from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful, the people who matter most to you online, or which YouTube videos you might like. The information Google collects, and how that information is used, depends on how you use our services and how you manage your privacy controls.

And that's where Google's privacy tools come into play. Basically, they allow you, as a user, to decide how often and when you want your search data and history automatically deleted. Google originally came out with these tools in May of this year, but just announced that these privacy settings would roll over to YouTube searches as well, according to The New York Times.

Using these auto-delete tools is simple. You start off by logging into your Gmail and clicking on the Google apps icon in the upper-right hand corner of your screen. Then, you click on "Account." This lands you on your Google Account page where you have to go into the left-side menu bar and click on "Data & Personalization." There, you'll be able to see a boxed menu under "Activity Controls." After you click "Manage Activity" at the bottom of the box, you'll be directed to Google's "My Activity" page.

If you've never used the auto-delete search tools before, the page will probably say your activity option is currently set to "Keeping activity until you delete it manually." To change this, click "Choose to delete automatically" on the screen and you'll be prompted with three options: "Keep until I delete manually," "Keep for 18 months then delete manually", or "Keep for 3 months then delete manually." After you choose what you want and then click "Next," you just have to hit "Confirm" and your settings will have changed.

If you want to use these auto-delete search tools for YouTube, you can do this by staying on your Google page. All you have to do is remain on your "Web & App Activity Page" and then click "Go to your YouTube history" at the top of the page. Then, in the same way you would change your Google search history settings, you follow the prompts to change your YouTube search history settings, according to The New York Times.

If you never want any of your history saved, on the same screen where you chose to change your automatic settings, you'll be able to see that your "Google History is on" or "YouTube History is on." You just have to click into "Change setting" and follow prompts to make sure no data gets saved. Whether you want to keep all of your search history for the rest of your life or want it to be permanently erased every few months or so, Google lets you choose.

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