Degooglise Your Life

Are you a frequent user of Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps or another tool connected to Google?

Almost everyone uses at least one Google product (“I’ll Google that”), but do you really want one company having access to so much of your activity?

There’s a movement of people just like you who are limiting the amounts of Google in their lives. And in just a few steps, you too can drastically reduce the amount of data you feed to Google.

This Google reduction is as much about limiting your reliance on their products as it is about limiting their consumption of your data!

If you want to know how important this Google reduction is for you, take our quiz!

1. Start Fresh

Unlike many platforms, Google allows you to actually see a lot of what they’re recording.

Face the facts:

  • Go to Google's My Activity page and sign into your Google account.
  • Scroll through some of things you’ve done on Google products while signed in (including searches, websites visited, and YouTube videos watched).
  • From the left/logo/logo menu, select item view for a more detailed breakdown. On each item you can select details for more information.
  • From the left/logo/logo menu, select Other Google Activity to see data from connected devices, and to download archives of your search history, emails, and so on.

If you’re feeling discouraged by the amount of data that Google has already collected, don’t worry – this data will depreciate in value over time, and there are some steps you can take to reduce it.

Wash it away:

  1. Go back to My Activity.
  2. Start by deleting one or two individual items:
    • On each item, click on the logo menu → delete.
  3. Now try deleting activity by topic – all your YouTube activity, for example – using the top search bar.
    • In the search bar, type ”YouTube” and hit search.
    • Then tap the logo menu on the right and select Delete Results to erase all the search results for this topic in one go.
  4. Want to delete all of it?
    • From the logo menu, click on Delete Activity by
    • Under Delete by Date, select All time
  5. Have your activity deleted automatically by going to the Web & App Activity page.
    • Tap the button Choose to delete automatically and here you can decide if you want to keep it for 3 or 18 months.
    • Hit Next and then Confirm.

Great, now that you’ve washed your history away, you can begin to focus on minimising your Google footprint going forward.

2. Get a Checkup

Google offers a Privacy Checkup that you can periodically do (for example, every 3 to 6 months). Your checkup will look different depending on which products you use, whether you have other devices connected to your account, and so on.

  • Go to the Privacy Checkup and log in.
  • Go through each step, gaining more control over your data as you go.
  • At some point you’ll reach a step called Personalize your Google experience. This takes you through Google’s Activity Controls, where you can limit what gets logged in future. “Pause” each category by moving the toggles to the left.
  • Go to Permissions, and limit which apps have access to your account.

Don’t forget to sign out again!

3. Clear Your Location Footprints

While you may have already tried turning off location services on your smartphone, if you use Google services, you may need to dive a bit deeper. Let’s start with your Google Maps app:

  • Open up Google Maps →
  • logo/logo menu →
  • Settings
  • Maps history
  • logo/logo menu →
  • Delete activity by
  • Under the Delete by Date drop-down menu, select All time
  • Delete

Now let’s go into the wider settings, and make sure it’s shut off for all Google products:

  • Open up Gmail app →
  • logo/logo menu →
  • Settings
  • Tap the email account you wish to adjust settings for (not “General settings”) →
  • Manage your Google Account
  • Under the tab Data & personalization, scroll down until you see Web & App Activity, tap on it →
  • Turn the toggle off →
  • Tap Pause to confirm (it may prompt you to confirm a second time)

4. Substitute a Tool

Continuing to use Google products means continuing to give Google data. To live a more balanced data lifestyle, it’s important to diversify the services you use. There are quite a few privacy-oriented tools you can try.

Why not start with just one?

  • If you use Google Search, try switching to DuckDuckGo.
  • If you use Google Chrome browser, try switching to Firefox.
  • If you use Google Hangouts for messaging, voice or video calls, try switching to Wire.
  • If you use Google Maps, try switching to OsmAnd.

For more suggestions, check out the Alternative App Centre.

Well done – your Google account is clean, fresh, and no longer keeping track of everything you do!

What next?

Last updated on: 7/15/2020