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Did you know your Android device retains your Google searches such that numerous sites and services can use that data to personalize ads and other types of recommendations?
For many, that level of personalization makes using the platform easier. There are others, however, that view this as an invasion of privacy. Such users like to retain control over how much of their search history is saved and when it's deleted.
More than that, however, is other third-party entities can use that stored information to keep tabs on your online activity. This can be problematic if you accidentally search for the wrong thing, only to then find the related ads to fall under the category of, "Why am I seeing this?" I've witnessed other people's eyes go wide when an add pops up on their phones they either shouldn't or didn't want to see.
Everyone should be concerned about their privacy. Although you might not wind up with your identity stolen, you do risk many third parties using your search history to their advantage. Fortunately, Google makes it possible to not only manually delete that data but also set devices to auto-delete the search cache. You might not think you need such a feature, but trust me when I say these types of intrusions are only going to get worse.
I'm going to walk you through the process of both -- manually deleting that search cache and configuring Android to auto-delete saved data.
How to manually clear the Google search cache
What you'll need: To do this, you'll need an Android device that is connected to your Google account. I'll be demonstrating on a Pixel 6 Pro running Android 12 with the April security patch applied.
This process should work the same on most modern Android devices. If, however, you find the instructions don't apply to your device, it might take a bit of research to discover how it's done on an older version of Android.
Let's get to work.
1. Open the Google app
From your Android App Drawer, open the Google app. In the resulting window, tap your profile image in the top-right corner.
2. Tap Search history
From the resulting menu, tap Search history.
3. Tap the desired delete option and verify
If you tap Delete last 15 minutes, you'll immediately clear anything you've searched for in the past fifteen minutes.
If you need to delete more than that, tap Search history. In the next window, tap Verify at the bottom of the screen.
4. Complete the verification process
You'll be prompted for either your PIN, pattern, password, fingerprint, or face scan (depending on how you have Android configured for the unlocking process).
After a successful verification, you should then see a Delete drop-down.
5. Tap the Delete drop-down
Tap the Delete drop-down to reveal the available options.
Select the time frame for which you want to delete (today, custom, or all-time) and Android will empty the cache for that specified range. You will not be prompted to okay the deletion, it will just happen. Once deleted, that cache is gone.
If you prefer to have things done automagically, Google has made it possible to set the cache to be auto-deleted. To do this, go back to the same place you ran the manual deletion and tap the Auto-delete (Off) entry. In the resulting window, tap to enable Auto-delete activity older than and then, from the drop-down, select the date range to be deleted.
You can choose from three months, 18 months, and 36 months. Once you've made your selection, tap Next and then tap Confirm to finish the setup.
And that's all there is to deleting your Google search cache (either manually or automatically). If you're concerned about your online privacy, consider this a must-do. And remember, since you can only set auto-delete for a minimum of three months, you might want to regularly go back to the screen and manually delete your cache (to keep your Android device from saving cached items that are not more than three months old).