In your decade(s) of internet use, you’ve probably created dozens, if not hundreds, of user accounts—for online retailers, gaming sites, messaging services, social media apps, and more. If you no longer want or need access to these accounts, take an afternoon to track down and delete what’s outdated.
Sometimes, though, figuring what accounts you still even have open can be the tricky part of this process. While there isn’t one simple way to see all of the accounts you’ve opened over the years, there are a few things you can do to find them. The effectiveness of these methods can vary, but here’s where we recommend you start.
Check through your email
The best place to find services associated with your email address is, well, your email. Assuming you archive most of your mail as opposed to deleting it, you probably still have a lot of welcome emails from the services you’ve used over the years. Do a search for phrases like the following:
“Confirm your email”
“Your new account”
Be sure to search all your email addresses, not just the one you use now. This could help you find quite a few old services you’ve forgotten about. You also may find that you get emails from those old services from time to time, which will help weed out any few that you might not have records of on hand.
Search for old passwords in your browser and password managers
Next, if you ever save your passwords in a password manager or your browser, searching through those can help you find other accounts you’ve forgotten about. Look inside any current and old password managers you may have used, including the ones that come with your browser (often found in your browser settings, like chrome://settings/).
Some password managers (like LastPass) will even order your logins by last used, so if you just start at the bottom, you’re sure to find some old services you forgot about. Plus, you’ll have the password handy so you can get right in and close your account!
Google your username
If you use the same username over and over, or if your username is particularly unique, you may find old accounts simply by searching Google. Go a few pages deep. Services that have social features or public information may pop up.
Clear out permissions for other apps
A lot of services allow you to sign in with Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other apps, and depending on their nature, they may request access to services like Instagram or Dropbox. A good way to discover some of those older, unused services is to look through the permissions of the services you do use.
A great way to do this all at once is to connect to MyPermissions, which shows you everything you’ve connected to Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Dropbox and Instagram—which is a pretty good starting place.
You can also view and revoke permissions from each app individually. To see what’s connected to your Google account, for example, go to your Account Settings > Security > Manage third-party access. On Facebook, go to Settings > Apps and Websites.
What you should do going forward
Now that you’ve cleaned up as much as you can, do some upkeep to prevent similar problems in the future. If you’re going to sign up for new services you aren’t sure about (let’s be honest, we all do it), make sure you archive your welcome emails instead of deleting them. Better yet, create a filter or folder specific to account creation. This will help you find them later on and clean out any services you don’t use.
This article was originally published in November 2012 and updated on 6/12/19 with the most current information.