Getting Google Out of Your Googling

By the time you read this, Google will probably have released the first public beta of their new web browser. (You can read about it in this comic. Nobody ever said Google wasn’t smart, and commissioning a comic book from Scott McCloud is a brilliant way of showing off their brilliance.) Looks like it will eventually be a great browser, a real competitor for Firefox. Kevin Newcomb makes the point that it will be the first browser built primarily for running web-based-applications (email, document editing, photo editing…) rather than just being a webpage displayer that can be cajoled into front-ending such applications. He makes the further point that by building such a browser, Google is setting itself up as author of the de facto standard for future web applications. And we are all told again and again that web applications are the future of personal computing.

Here’s another of Kevin’s points:

“As with the Google Toolbar before it, Chrome will also present an opportunity for Google to collect more user behavioral data. On the plus side, that could help Google develop better Web analytics applications. More cynically, Google can also take this mountain of user data and use it to better monetize its ad platforms.”

To which I would add that anybody vacuuming up that much information about people is just a bad thing for privacy.

This seems like a good time for a how-to turn off Google’s Search History “feature”. That’s the one that keeps track of everything you search for through Google and everywhere you go from Google. It lets them show a reminder in your search results of how many times you’ve been to a given page and when you last went there. It also lets them build a lasting profile of your online behaviour. It only happens if you have a Google account and have signed in to it recently. Personally, I use my account for Google Calendar, but lots of people have one for Gmail or Picasa or any of their many other services. I think they give you the option of turning Search History on or off when you first sign up for an account, but I don’t remember ever seeing that option, or at least not fully explained.

To turn off and wipe Google Search History:

  • Go to the search screen.
  • If you aren’t signed in already, Sign In at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Go to
  • . Hey, lookit all that stuff.

  • On the list on the left, click Remove Items.
  • On the right, click Clear entire Web History

That should have both cleared out Google’s history of your browsing, and “paused” the saving of future browsing. You can, of course, turn it all back on again if you want.

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