Everything Google knows about you and how to stop it!

Ever thought ‘What does Google know about me?’ the short answer – A LOT. But you can stop them from collecting more, here’s how!

Google knows everything - We Know Where You Are. We Know Where You've Been. We Can More Or Less Know What You're Thinking About.
The Google logo has become a recognizable symbol on our beloved computers since the start– from our massive desktop computers, to the thick bulky laptop (which were so modern at the time), to today’s laptops, tablets and smartphones – Google has been there, through it all. And as we grew up with the comings and goings of different online services, Google has remained and continued to grow - and sadly grow more and more invasive into our every move online!

Google knows way more about you than you think it does. Do you remember Eric Schmidt's (former Google CEO) famous quote of 2010? You'd better as reading it now will freak you out!

"We Know Where You Are. We Know Where You've Been. We Can More Or Less Know What You're Thinking About."

With the rise of AI, this quote is probably more true than ever before. So 32 years after the launch of Google Search and 20 years after the launch of Gmail, we've put together a collection of all the things Google knows about you, including what personal data Google collects, and how to reduce Google’s tracking and delete your data from their data-hungry servers.

On every smart device you own, it’s highly likely there’s one, if not more Google owned apps or services. Think about it – Google Search, Chrome, YouTube, Google Play apps, Google Maps, your TV Chrome cast, these are just a few Google services we use daily, have readily available, and often open on our devices. Google has said publicly that they collect personal information and track users through their apps, so this is no secret at all. But what a lot of people fail to realize is the extent of this tracking, data collection, and scope the tech giant has into your life.

Every time you search something on Google, Google in return learns something about you based on your search. And every time you use a Google-owned site like Google Maps or YouTube, the tech giant builds user profiles based your search and browsing history. Through this mass data collection they’re able to build advertising profiles, and spam you with ads they think match your demographic. By tracking your online activity, Google is able to make extremely accurate predictions on your gender, age, marital status, personal interests and even income!

Continue reading to find out what types of information Google knows about you, what data Google collects from you, how to improve your google privacy settings and how you can delete Google’s stored data.

Table of Contents

The types of data Google collects

If you’re the average internet user, and haven’t changed your default Google settings, every time you use Google, they are currently able to collect the following data:

  • Your personal information: your name, gender, date of birth
  • Your email addresses and phone number
  • Where you live
  • Your current location
  • Your interests
  • Where you work
  • What you search for
  • Every website you visit
  • Ads you click on
  • The videos you watch
  • Places you've visited around the world
  • Your device’s information
  • IP address and cookie data
  • YouTube search history and your recently watched videos
  • Anything you've said to the Google Assistant (even through smart speakers)

But why does Google collect my data?

Google knows almost everything about you. But why does Google collect your data?

If you’re wondering why Google collects so much of your data – the short answer is to make unimaginable amounts of revenue by selling your private information to advertisers. Remember, Google makes most of it’s revenue through advertising.

Google collects personal data so that they can target ads and apparently ‘personalize’ your Google experience. Because Google collects your data, and creates accurate profiles based on this, this information is sold to advertisers to improve ad targeting and increase their sales. Google is limitless with how far they will go – Google now even uses your data to train its AI models!

So, if you’ve been wondering, what does Google do with my personal information? To summarize, Google collects your information (in extremely invasive ways), sells it to advertisers, who then spam you with targeted ads online. By using Google’s free services, you in turn pay with your privacy and data – and ultimately become the product.

One immediate step to protect your data from Google is to choose a private browser instead of Chrome. Now that you are seeing this article in Firefox, continue reading to find out exactly what types of data Google collects.

How to see what Google knows about you

Due to legal reasons you’re allowed to access all the information and personal data Google has collected from your online activity over the years. Follow the steps below to see what data they collect and all the personal data they’ve stored about you.

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to the navigational panel and click Data & Privacy

On this page you will be able to see a full summary of all the data Google has collected from its apps and services that you use. This includes history settings, ad settings, and others we will go more into detail about later.

Explore Google history settings: Things you’ve done and places you’ve been

Under Things you’ve done and places you’ve been you can see every Google primary service you use, and the data collected for each service. It’s no secret that Google app tracks and monitors our every move, but once you’ve reviewed all the data collected about you, you’ll realize just how deep Google’s reach into your private and personal life is.

Google tries to justify this tracking and storing of your every move by saying, “Rediscover the things that you’ve searched for, read and watched, and see the places where you’ve visited.” - A bit creepy, right?

Things you’ve done and places you’ve been.

Under 'Things you’ve done and places you’ve been' you will find everything you’ve searched for, read, watched, and visited.

Web & App Activity

If you go to My Activity found under History Settings you will find a list of every single website you’ve ever visited. The data from any Google apps you use will also appear here. And if you use Google Workspace and had already turned off activity tracking, you will need to check these settings again – yes, Google might have turned on activity tracking even if you had turned it off in the past!

Under My Activity all your Google activity will be listed along with:

  • The date you used it
  • The hour
  • The app used

Web and App Activity

Google keeps a list of all your Google Activity. Above you can see Google Flights, Google Search and Google Maps were used. Each time you use a Google app, they keep a log of your every click, scroll, or step you make.

Location History

Google’s location history gives you a full list of the places you’ve been and even a Google Maps Timeline including the routes you’ve traveled. If you are like billions of others around the world and use Google Maps on your smartphone, then every step you take is tracked and put into what Google calls your ‘Timeline’. Every time you leave a Google review or use a location service this data is also logged and stored. If you ever forget what you did on a day, specific time, or where you were – Google has been tracking and watching and can give you the exact answer! While there are location settings you can change to reduce the tracking, if you really want your whereabouts to remain unknown, you should completely stop using Google.

Google timeline.

Google even keeps a log of your movements. Forgotten the cute café you visited on the 21st of April 2021? Creepily enough, Google can tell you.

DuckDuckGo Tweet

Google is settling a law suit against them for recording its users movements even when they had turned off location tracking. Image source: DuckDuckGo on X.

YouTube History

Every time you use YouTube to watch your favorite YouTuber or Music video, this information is also stored and kept by Google. Under YouTube History you will find what you searched, the date you watched the video and even the device you watched it from.

There are sites like Invidious which allows you to watch YouTube without being tracked and with zero ads. But of course, Google has tried to get this privacy alternative, Invidious shut down as it threatens their business model and would ultimately kill a large percentage of revenue if it became popular enough. Unfortunately for you, if you’d like to watch YouTube with no adverts you’ll need to get that wallet out and pay for a Premium account. Note paying for a premium account doesn’t stop the tracking, just the ads.

YouTube History

Under YouTube History you can see every song, video, blogger, you’ve watched by date and time.

Personalized ads

  1. Under Data and Privacy scroll to Personalized ads
  2. Click the arrow to the left of My Ad Centre
  3. Click Manage Privacy

Under Manage Privacy in My Ad Centre you’ll be able to see how your ads are personalized, as well as what details Google uses to personalize ads based on what it thinks you might be interested it.

The information google uses for ad targeting and personalization is information you have willingly shared with Google like your gender, and age. While the other information Google has guessed about you and this is based on your Google activity. Every time you use a google app or service it tracks you, analyzes what you do and uses this activity to personalize the ads you see. In my case, the information Google guessed about me based on my activity and searches was in fact very accurate!

Google ad

Every time you use a Google service, Google tracks your activity and uses your activity to personalize your ads – the amount of information Google knows and has guessed correctly is creepy!

Explore what information you share with others

On the Data & Privacy page, scroll down to Info you can share with others here you’ll see the personal information that’s saved to your Google account, like your name, date of birth, contact information and gender.

Info you can share with others.

Under 'Info you can share with others' you can see a list of personal information Google already has stored about you and change the settings to make it private or accessible to specific contacts.

Data from apps and services you use

Under Data from apps and services you use you will see Content saved from Google services if you click the arrow on the left you can see every Google service you use as well as the data that’s collected from them. They also give you the option to download your data from these Google services, or the option to delete a Google service you use, like Gmail, YouTube, or Google Drive.

Data from apps and services you use.

Google has collected all your data from the apps and services you use.

Every time you install a third-party app and extensions (not Google apps) they give you the option to sign up and log in with your Google account. So instead of creating a new username and password for the app or service you need, you can use your Google credentials. This makes creating an account super easy and quick, but it comes with the cost of allowing other apps and extensions access to your Google data and Google to access data from those apps. Under Data from apps and services you use go to Third-party apps & services to see a list of every third-party app and service that’s linked to your Google account. From here you can click the arrow to the left of each app to review the app or service linked to your Google account. You should have the option Stop using Sign in with Google or to Delete all connections you have to the specific third-party app.

Third-party apps and services

Each time you create an account for a new app or service like Adobe, Bolt, Canva or Grammarly and use your Google log in to create the account you are giving third-party apps and services access to your account data.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free Google service that’s used by tons of websites and apps globally. In fact, Google Analytics is the biggest cross-site tracker to date. It currently lurks in about 72.6% of the top 75k websites. While Google Analytics allows apps and websites to gain insights into who’s using their apps or visiting their website, this tool also allows Google to add the analytics to their mass data base of profiles about people.

What data does Google Analytics collect? Google analytics tracks a sites page views, and different types of visit data like, the users operating system, device type and browser type. It also tracks your demographics like age, gender, location and interest. This is just a few sets of data it tracks and collects. Google Analytics tracks so much that it can lead to GDPR infringements if used by European companies.

What’s scary is that with this data Google is able to track is used by many industries in different ways. An example of this is airlines use this data to charge internet users different prices depending on their personal information. Google even states that “Prices may vary” when you search for hotels or accommodation based on the factors, Google account sign-in status, the device you use and “whether you’re part of an audience list” so Google has even gone as far to create personalized pricing based on your digital profile! Additionally, Google’s famous Gmail tracks everything you buy too. So even your Gmail mailbox which is supposed to be private is collecting your purchasing data, storing it, and has records on every purchase you've made.

Prices May Vary

Google uses a range of factors like your device type to change the prices for certain products online. Want to book a hotel? Well, it looks like Google will decide the price for you!

How is it fair that this disgustingly large corporation gets to decide who pays what based on their online profile and goes as far to keep records of your purchases?

How to export all your data from Google

Before we get into the details for how to increase your privacy and reduce Google tracking, you might want to export all the data saved to your Google account. Follow these easy steps to download your Google data:

  1. Under Data and Privacy scroll down to Download or delete your data
  2. Click the arrow to the left of Download your data
  3. Select which data you want to download from each Google service.
  4. Click Next step
  5. Select the destination you’d like to send the exported data to.
  6. Select the frequency of export, you can choose either export once or export every 2 months for one year.
  7. Select the file type and size.
  8. Click Create export

Steps to increase your Google privacy and stop the tracking

So now that you’ve been filled in on all the invasive ways Google tracks you, stores your online history, collects your data and sells it for profit, it’s time to take back your privacy and stop them from collecting your data.

In this next section we’ll show you what privacy settings to change, how to stop data collection and limit the information Google stores about you. What’s important to remember is that while there are settings you can change, it doesn’t mean you are completely private – Google will always track and have some form of hold into your actions and life as long as you use their services.

How to turn off Google ads personalization

The first thing you should do to stop Google’s tracking is turn off ad personalization. There are many other settings to disable, but this is the most important. Be warned – Google will try get you to keep ad personalization on by trying to convince you that turning it off will negatively affect your internet experience but this is rubbish! What it means is that they will no longer be allowed to ad target you. Follow these steps to turn off ad personalization:

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Under Ad settings click Ad personalization
  4. Click the toggle next to Ad personalization is ON
  5. A pop up will appear click Turn off

Turn off Google ads personalization

By turning off Google ads personalization you will reduce Google’s tracking and stop the ad targeting.

Once you’ve turned off ad personalization you will see ads based on some factors they can still get from tracking your activity but they will be more general – please don’t make the mistake of thinking this stops them from tracking you entirely. That doesn’t exist.

Removing third-party access to your Google data

Ever wanted to create an account with a new service or app and been given the option to sign in with your Google account? It’s quick, easy and convenient. But linking your Google account to third-party accounts allows these third-party accounts to access to your Google information. It’s high recommended that you review which third-parties have access to your information. To do this simple follow these steps.

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Scroll down to Data from apps and services you use
  4. Click on the arrow to the right of Third-party apps & services

Remove third-party access

By removing third-party access to your Google account, these third-party services will no longer have access to your private information stored in Google. You will see a list of third-party services that have access to your account. From here you can edit the permissions and disable access for each service.

How to delete Google Data

How to turn off and delete Google web and app activity

The amount of information Google collects and keeps from your activity on their platforms is concerning! It’s time to turn off this automatic collecting and delete this activity by following these steps below.

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Scroll down to History settings
  4. Click on the arrow to the right of Web & App Activity
  5. Click Turn off
  6. Click Turn off and delete activity
  7. A pop up will appear, click Next
  8. Select the activity you want to delete – we recommend selecting all.
  9. Click Next
  10. Lastly, click Delete

Turn off and delete Google web and app activity

By turning off and deleting the Google web and app activity you will clear the activity history Google collected, as well as prevent further collection of your activity across their platforms.

Delete and disable Google location history

It’s really scary to think that Google even tracks and knows your location. And even scarier to know that they have been collecting your location history.

To disable and delete location tracking follow these steps

  • Go to Location History
  • Click Turn off
  • Select Turn off and delete activity
  • A pop up will appear, click Next
  • Click Delete
  • Click Ok

Disable location tracking in Google.

When you go anywhere with your mobile device Google is able to track and log your locations. In fact Google knows more of the places you’ve visited than you know yourself! By disabling location tracking, you will stop Google from being able to track and log this private information.

To delete your location history follow these steps

  1. Go to Google Maps Timeline
  2. A pop up will appear, click Skip
  3. Click on the gear icon at the bottom of the map.
  4. A menu will open, click Delete all Location History
  5. Click the box to confirm you understand and want to delete all location history
  6. Click Delete Location History
  7. Click Ok

Delete and disable YouTube History

To enable auto-delete of your YouTube history follow these easy steps

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Under History Settings go to YouTube History
  4. Under Auto-Delete (on) click the arrow
  5. Make sure Auto-delete activity older than is selected
  6. Choose after how many months you’d like activity to be deleted - we recommend 3 months.
  7. Click Next
  8. Click Confirm
  9. Click Ok

To disable your YouTube history do this

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Under History Settings go to YouTube History
  4. Click on the arrow to the right.
  5. Under YouTube History click Turn off
  6. A pop up will appear, click Pause
  7. Click Ok

Delete and disable YouTube History

For many of us it’s easy to spend time going down a rabbit hole, watching different content on YouTube. While you might think you’re watching this alone, from the comfort of your home in private - this is far from true! Google is watching and storing every video watched, every like or comment, and second of watching time. Make sure you disable your YouTube history as well as enable auto-delete of your YouTube history.

The best solution? Delete your Google account.

If you’re now asking yourself, “Should I worry that Google knows so much about me?” the answer is yes! Now that you know how Google tracks, monitors and collects your data you should be aware of its reach into your private life. While we have given our tips for the settings you should change to increase your online privacy, the truth is that as long as you use a Google service you are giving away your data, being monitored and even paying different prices based on your online profile! Maybe just not as much – but it’s still happening. At the end of the day the best thing you could do to protect your privacy is to delete Google entirely.

Note: Before permanently deleting your account, be sure to remove any third party apps linked to your Google account to avoid not having access to them, as well as exporting all of your Google data.

To delete your Google account follow these easy steps

  1. Open your Google account
  2. Go to Data and privacy
  3. Scroll down to More options
  4. Click the arrow to the right of Delete your Google Account
  5. Enter your account password and click Next
  6. Select the two boxes at the bottom of the page
  7. Click Delete account

Better alternatives

Now that you may want to completely delete your Google account and every service linked to it, you might be worried about your Gmail account. Luckily there are many better Gmail alternatives like Tuta Mail. If you’re wanting to delete a Gmail account and take back your privacy we’ve put together a full step by step guide to safely deleting your Gmail account.

While deleting your Google account might feel scary and impossible, there are many better privacy focused apps and services available these days which means you can still do everything you could do with Google but with alternative services that are ethical in how they operate and respect your privacy. Leaving Google behind doesn’t need to be difficult, we’ve put together a quick guide to take back your privacy online! additionally, there are many private browsers available which don’t track and record your every move.

Looking for a mailbox with zero tracking and zero ads?

Ditch your spam filled mailbox and delete Gmail now! We have a better alternative - Tuta Mail.

Tuta is a privacy focused email and calendar service that offers a fully end-to-end encrypted mailbox and calendar for free! Gone are the days of email scanning, targeted ads and mass tracking. With Tuta Mail you can have peace of mind knowing that none of your payments, receipts or messages are being scanned and recorded - Tuta is so private and secure that not even the Tuta employees can access your messages, additionally the whole mailbox is end-to-end encrypted. This includes the subject line, your contact list and even your Tuta Calendar and Contacts!

With Tuta you can sign up anonymously for a free mailbox, with generous storage space, zero tracking and no ads! Whats better? Your private messages are end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning only you and the intended recipient can see the message!

Ditch Google and it’s spying eyes, and opt for privacy focused alternative like Tuta Mail – you deserve the right to privacy. Make the change and sign up for your free Tuta Mailbox in minutes!