There’s probably a little bit of Google in every part of your life. The company hosts a sprawling network of tools and apps we use for everything — from school assignments and work emails, to watching how-to videos and making calls. The good news is that Google has tried to collect its most important privacy settings into one place, which means you can protect your data in Gmail and Google-owned YouTube at the same time.
Google offers a “Privacy Checkup” to get through settings quickly, but defaults to more mild options than we’ve listed below. There are some trade-offs when you limit Google’s data collection, according to the company. Google services that give recommendations might not be as helpful, and any ads you see will be less accurately targeted.
These privacy setting recommendations are based on your Google Account settings on the Web. You can also access them through individual Google apps or your settings on an Android phone by going to Settings → Google (or Google Services).
Start with the one setting that does the most to stop Google from tracking your search and browsing activity.
Google products are privy to some deeply personal information about your life. For example, Google searches can leave clues about your illnesses, while its Maps tools can collect your comings and goings. While knowing that info helps it make personalized products, it also helps the company target ads.
While that one setting covers a lot of bases when it comes to how your personal information is used, there’s more you can adjust. You can limit other data the company collects about you, like videos you watch on YouTube, your location, product reviews you’ve left, even your Google profile. Then you can ask the company not to target ads to you at all, if you find them more invasive than helpful.
Start in that same settings screen and take control of more of your data.
In addition to stopping future data collection in all those categories, you can delete all previously gathered information.
To further avoid Google data collection without quitting its apps, you’ll want to avoid some of its products. Don’t use the Chrome browser if possible, and opt for a more privacy-minded option like Firefox or Brave. If you do use Chrome, stay signed out and consider a tool like the Privacy Badger browser extension to block trackers. You could also avoid using the Google search engine with an alternative like DuckDuckGo.
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