Tech

You can now lock down your Google search history with a password

Finally we can search for our weird obsessions without worrying about prying eyes.

Young woman using smart phone in bed at night, staring at illuminated screen unable to fall asleep, addiction to modern technology
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Let’s be honest here for a moment: our Google search histories are embarrassing. The words we type into that ubiquitous search bar reveal our late-night questions, things we really ought o know but have forgotten, our inability to do basic arithmetic, and our most intimate musings. Google keeps track of every one of those mortifying searches, along with every video you’ve ever watched on YouTube and every question you’ve posed to your Google Assistant. Because of course it does.

So we are grateful that, after all this time, Google has finally added an option to password-protect our search history. The new feature, first spotted by Android Police, can actually lock down your entire Google history, including audio recordings, YouTube searches, and all activity across Google properties.

The new password protection can be activated through Google’s My Activity page, which also happens to be the location where you can view the plethora of data Google has collected from you. If you’ve never taken the time to check in on what info Google has on you, there’s never been a better time to do so. Then go ahead and imagine someone with access to your open laptop finding all that information. Yeah, you’re going to want to activate that extra password protection.

Just a few clicks — Activating the added layer of password protection is pretty simple, all things considered. All you have to do is log in to the My Activity portal at activity.google.com and click the “Manage My Activity verification” link.

Google

The page will then present you with two options: require extra verification or don’t require extra verification. The latter is selected by default; hit the first radio button and save your settings to institute the new protection. Google will then ask you to verify the password linked to your account and you’ll be set.

Google

While you’re on the My Activity page, take some time to look around at all the data Google’s saved on you. There are options for limiting that tracked data — you can tell Google to stop adding your YouTube searches, for example — or have your data auto-deleted every 3, 18, or 36 months.

Upping the privacy game — As of late, Google has really been driving home the multitude of privacy features available to those who use its ever-growing suite of products. The company dedicated a fair amount of last week’s I/O developer conference to divulging new privacy features, like “locked” folders in Google Photos and top-notch security measures coming to Android 12.

Google’s increased privacy focus comes at a time when the internet writ large is more focused than ever on web privacy. Users across the board are overwhelmingly choosing to opt out of data-tracking when the option is presented to them. We’re trusting these companies with our most personal data — and it’s refreshing to see them putting renewed effort into protecting that information, even if only because there’s been a cultural shift in that direction and the market demands it.