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How do I make Google delete my data?

Delete Google data
Deleting Google data can be a big deal

Have you checked what data Google holds about you? Were you shocked to find that it had tracked all of those late-night trips to McDonald’s? Have you downloaded your huge archive? Have you decided that enough is enough and want to go off the Google grid? Is that enough questions? Well, here’s how to make Google delete data.

There are two roads you can take: you can choose to delete certain data (such as your full YouTube history) and retain your Google account – or you can go out guns blazing and delete your entire Google account in one go. We’ll be dealing with the former first (scroll down to the “The nuclear option” section if you want to permanently cut the cord).

Delete Google data: Search, YouTube and Maps

Google makes it easy to throw your Search, YouTube and Map history out the digital window. In fact, it’s just a three-click process.

Sign into Google and head to myactivity.google.com/delete-activity. You will be taken to this page…Delete Google dataSelect “All time” from the “Delete by date” dropdown box. You can also select a specific “product” (Ads, Help, Image Search, Maps, Search, Video Search and YouTube) to delete by clicking on the bottom dropdown or simply go for “All products”. Click Delete.

If it’s your first time, Google will bring up a plaintive pop-up urging you to reconsider. Toggle the “Don’t show again” tickbox and click OK. And that’s it: your Search history is gone with the wind.

Delete Google data: Gmail

Wow, you’re brave. Gmail is the undisputed king of personal emailing and deleting your email history isn’t a process to be taken lightly. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.  Make sure, therefore, that you’ve downloaded a copy of your Google archive – or have at least gone through your back catalogue email by email.

If you still want to bite the bullet, sign into Gmail and click on the inbox you want to empty (Primary, Social or Promotions). Click on the following icon…Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.03.00 1… which is located just above the Primary inbox tab. Select All from the dropdown menu that appears. This will highlight everything in bright yellow, but, as it stands, you’d only be deleting the first page of emails. To make sure that you get rid of everything, click on the link in the small banner that appears over the inboxes.Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.06.32Once you’ve done that, click on the Delete icon and gasp as your inbox empties for the first time in a decade. Don’t fret if you’ve binned something you shouldn’t have – the deleted emails will remain in your Trash folder for 30 days before being wiped.

Delete Google data: Drive and Photos

This may sound like a cop-out, but I’d seriously recommend going through and deleting your photos and documents on a file-by-file basis. After all, you never know what might slip through the cracks if you delete swaths of items in one go. You’ll never get those “Magaluf 2k16” memories back…

Delete Google data: The nuclear option

Tech journalists love a good “nuclear option” and often apply the term to comparatively trivial things such as restarting a printer. This, however, is a real nuclear option. Well, not a real nuclear option. We’d suggest that’s a step too far, just to delete your data.

The surefire way to make sure that Google deletes your data is to leave the service entirely. Again, it’s not something you should do during a morning coffee break – the tech firm’s ubiquity means that it’s the digital equivalent of retreating to an isolated mountain cabin.

First, make absolutely sure that you have downloaded your personal archive or have salvaged anything you want from Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Calendar and Google Contacts.

Navigate to the very serious “Delete your Google Account” page. Read everything on the page carefully because, as Google says, it’s “not the usual yada yada”.

Delete Google dataOnce you’ve read everything (twice), scroll down past the reminders that you’ll be deleting thousands of emails, photos and documents. It’s enough to put a shiver down your spine.

Even scarier is the last box you have to tick at the bottom of the page…Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.39.53

Now’s it’s time to boldly go where not many have gone before: press Delete Account to get rid of your Google data forever. Godspeed.

READ NEXT: How do I find out what data LinkedIn is holding on me?

About the author

Max Figgett

Max has written for numerous websites and magazines over the years. Whether it’s about ancient hardware or software secrets, no Big Tech Question is too obscure for him to tackle.

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