Check the Auto-Delete Defaults on Your New Google Accounts

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Newly created Google accounts will come with auto-delete turned on by default for all data types — a feature that users previously had to go in and select.

Google hangs onto your data, which it uses to curate content and ads across its services, in three categories:

  • Web and app history (including Chrome browsing history and Google assistant voice and audio data)
  • YouTube search and watch histories
  • Google Maps history and GPS location data

Google will now auto-delete location history and web/app data after 18 months and YouTube history after three years by default on all new accounts. This means you don’t have to remember to update your auto-delete settings or go in and manually delete your activity.

However, if you prefer to have your data auto-delete sooner than 18 months (or three years!) out, you can update your settings to auto-delete after three months — a process we’ll explain below.

Keep in mind that this new policy applies to new accounts only, which means you’ll still have to opt into auto-delete on existing Google accounts. We’ve got a whole guide to that process (and why it’s important), but here’s a quick overview:

On your Google activity dashboard, click “Activity controls” in the left sidebar. Scroll down to the data type you want to manage and click the “Auto-delete” option. Toggle on the timeframe (three months or 18 months) in the pop-up window and click Next > Confirm.

Screenshot: Emily Long

Keep in mind that you’ll have to go through this process separately for your web and app activity, location services and YouTube history auto-delete settings.

Unfortunately, you can’t opt out of Google’s data collection completely. But enabling auto-delete (on existing accounts) or updating your timeframe (on new accounts) helps both protect your privacy and ensure that Google gives you recommendations for content based on your current preferences.

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