How To Prevent Google From Tracking Your Every Move

Nothing is free in this world, or so the saying goes, and that includes all of the services from Google that you and millions of other Android users likely interact with on a daily basis. While the apps themselves don't come along with a monetary cost, you do give up your information in exchange for not having to pay for the things Google could otherwise be charging you money for.

This essentially means that you're giving Google permission to track plenty of stuff about you. It tracks your location through Google Maps, it knows things about your interests thanks to YouTube, and every time you search for something that plays a part in surfacing you ads for things that Google thinks you may want to buy. Thankfully there are ways you can turn a fair number of these things off so Google isn't tracking your every move.

Location Tracking In Phone Settings

For starters, location history is one of the things that Google tracks, though it is in fact an opt-in feature that won't be turned on right away, at least for new users. Chances are that you have already opted into letting Google track your location through the various features that require it to work, like restaurant suggestions. Google will need to know your location if you want Maps to suggest places you might like to eat based on previous places you've been.

This is easy enough to turn off, but keep in mind that if you do so those features which rely on location tracking to work will no longer operate until you opt back in, which is likely to be the next time you try to use something of the sort and Google's popup asking you for permission gives you the chance to say "allow" or "block." To disable location tracking simply do the following.

Head into the settings menu which you can access from the dropdown notification shade that comes up when you drag down from the top of the screen. The settings menu icon will be located in the bottom right corner of the panel next to the edit button which looks like a pencil/pen.

From here, scroll down the settings menu page until you find Security and location. This is where you'll find the toggle for location tracking either already enabled or disabled depending on if you've ever given it permission to use certain features.

Inside the toggle is most of the way to the bottom, tap on location and then this last sub-menu will have the toggle for you disable it. This will turn location tracking off if you don't want it on.

It's worth keeping in mind, though, that features such as the restaurant suggestions from Google Maps aren't the only things that need location on. If you lose your device, the location tracking helps Google locate it for you, so you'll need to be aware that by disabling location you won't be able to have Google find your phone in the event that it gets lost.

Google Account Activity Controls

In addition to location tracking from the phone settings you can access location history and a whole host of other tracking options from your Google account webpage by going to Here you'll find plenty of other information about your Google account, but what you want to focus on for the moment is the "Data & Personalization tab that can be found at the top next to Home and Personal Info.

After you click on that you'll find Activity Controls just a little ways down the page with toggles for web and app activity, location history, and more. You can tap each section individually from here where you can tap the toggles for that specific section, but you can also scroll towards the bottom of the Data & Personalization page to see the view all option which takes you to a separate page that has more information (albeit brief) about each section of tracked data.

This page not only gives you a little more info about things but it also has all of the toggles for each section listed on one page so you can tap all of the ones that you want to turn off without having to reload pages over and over. This might only shave a minute or so off the whole process but time is money right?In total you'll find options for web & app activity, location history device information, voice & audio activity which is for things like Google Assistant and any Google Home devices you may have, and lastly YouTube Search history and YouTube Watch history. You'll want to turn these two things off if you don't want YouTube remembering what you watch or suggesting videos to you based on past videos you've viewed

In regards to the watch history, you could simply just delete each video you watch individually from the history page inside of the YouTube app, if you want some videos to remain in history but not all of them. This is great if you want to go back and watch a video or show a video to a friend that you may have forgotten the name of.

To remove an individual video, simply open the YouTube app, tap the Library button in the bottom navigation bar, and then tap history on the page that loads. Find the video you want to delete and tap the three dot button next to it, and Remove from Watch history will be the top option.

If you want more granular control over things it might be best to go into each app or service individually that allows for enabling and disabling specific data tracking, though not all of it may be available this way so the Google account Data & Personalization page acts as sort of a catchall, and it means you really only have to visit one place and not load up every single app.

If you're not too worried about what data Google is tracking you can of course leave all of this stuff alone but at least now you'll know where it is should you ever want to give things an adjustment.

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About the Author

Justin Diaz

News Editor
Justin has written for Android Headlines since 2012 and currently adopts a Editor role with a specific focus on mobile gaming and game-streaming services. Prior to the move to Android Headlines Justin spent almost eight years working directly within the wireless industry. Contact him at [email protected]