Google tracks all sorts of information about you, ranging from what you’re searching for to your taste in YouTube videos.
Another specific data type it stores is your location history, which may prove helpful or intrusive depending on your perspective. Either way you have some degree of control over Google’s record of the places you’ve visited. If you’re wary of the feature, you can turn it off completely. Deleting location data at specific intervals is also possible. We show you how to manage these tasks, but first, let’s discuss what Google location history does and whether it’s something you need.
What Is Google Location History and Do You Need It?
Location history is a feature embedded in all Google accounts. It allows the service to keep track of every location you visit with your device, be it your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.
The main purpose of location history is to enhance some of Google’s other services such as Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Photos. For one thing, it can be used to create targeted advertisements based on the locations you’ve visited.
Location history also helps track lost phones, view traffic updates in real time, and receive personalized recommendations based on your daily outings. Use it to recall where you were at a specific point in time, save places that you enjoyed visiting, or even request an email of your highlights regarding a specific trip.
If you find any of these uses appealing, you may want to leave your location history enabled.
Does Google Track My Location?
Google continuously tracks your location to personalize your experience across various Google apps and services. The only prerequisites are that you have signed in to your Google account on your device, enabled the location history feature, and left location reporting on for that device.
To check whether location history is enabled, navigate to your account settings and head to “Data & privacy -> History settings.”
Disable the feature if you’re not comfortable using it knowing that it keeps track of the places you’ve been to or trips you’ve plotted out. Click on the “Location History” option in the above location to proceed. Shutting off location history via Google Maps is also an alternative, whether you’re using a mobile device or a computer.
How to Disable Location History in Google Maps
It’s worth mentioning that disabling location history may prevent Google from saving your location data across all of its services. Furthermore, doing this doesn’t delete the data already collected by Google – it merely stops the service from storing more information.
Disable Location History on Your Desktop
- Navigate to the Google Maps website and sign in to your Google account,if necessary.
- Click the hamburger menu icon at the top-left corner of the page and select “Your data in Maps.”
- Scroll down until you see the “Location History” option under the “Google-wide controls” heading.
- Click “Location History,” then click the “Turn off” button on the following screen.
- A pop-up will appear warning you that disabling this feature will affect various Google services. Just scroll down to the bottom of the text for the “Pause” button to become accessible, then click it.
You’ll see a screen showing that the feature has been turned off. Click on the “Delete old activity” button if you want to get rid of previously-collected location information.
Disable Location History on Your Mobile Device
- Launch the Google Maps app on your Android or iOS device and ensure that you’re logged in to your Google account.
- Tap the profile icon at the top-right corner of the screen to display the menu and select the “Your data in Maps” option.
- Tap the option under “Location History” to open the “Activity controls” screen.
- Tap the “Turn off” button under “Location History.”
- Scroll down to the bottom of the text until the “Pause” button lights up, then tap it to proceed.
Your location history is now disabled. You’ll see a “Delete old activity” link on the final screen. Tap on it to erase your previously-saved location data.
How to Automatically Delete Location History in Google Maps
If you’d like Google to collect your location data temporarily and empty it at specific intervals, there’s a setting you can toggle to force that.
Delete Location History on Your Desktop
On a desktop or laptop, you don’t need to go through the Google Maps app at all. Just follow the steps below to set up automatic deletion of your location history:
- Head to your Google Account page.
- Click “Data & privacy” on the left side of the webpage.
- Scroll down a bit until you get to the “History settings” section. Click “Location History” in this section.
- Scroll down until you see the Auto-delete header near the end of the page. Click the option directly underneath it. If this feature is disabled, the option should show “Choose an auto-delete option.”
- In the pop-up that appears, click the drop-down menu under the radio button labeled “Auto-delete activity older than.” Here, choose whether you’d like Google to delete your location data every 3, 18, or 36 months.
- Once you have made your selection, click the Next button at the bottom-right corner of the page.
Here, a confirmation page will ask you if you’re sure you want the information to be deleted. The page also shows until what date your location date will be deleted and the number of places that will be erased.
- Click the Confirm button at the bottom-right corner to finalize the process.
Delete Location History on Your Mobile Device
Setting your location history to auto-delete on your mobile device is a fairly similar process to doing it on a computer.
- Launch the Google Maps app on your mobile device and make sure you’re logged in to your Google account.
- Tap the account menu icon at the top-right corner of the screen and tap “Your data in Maps.”
- Tap the option underneath “Location History.”
- Near the bottom of the page, you’ll find the “Auto-delete” heading. Tap the option underneath it. If this feature hasn’t been enabled yet, it should show “Choose an auto-delete option.”
- Tap the drop-down menu under the radio button captioned “Auto-delete activity older than” and select one of the options: 3, 18, or 36 months.
- Click “Next” on the bottom-right corner of the screen when you’re ready to proceed.
A warning screen will remind you that Google will now automatically delete any location information outside the time range you’ve selected.
- Click the Confirm button at the bottom right to complete the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can Google track my location information even without an Internet connection?
Yes. When your phone is offline, Google can still track your location data through other means, such as GPS, cell towers, and Bluetooth. If you’re a stickler for privacy, you should turn off location history and other related services or avoid using Google altogether.
2. How accurate is Google’s location and timeline information?
Google’s location tracking is not 100% accurate and can sometimes be way off. It really depends on the sources that are providing the information as well as the device that’s receiving the data. For example, if the GPS isn’t enabled on your mobile device, your location data is likely to be far less accurate. Fortunately, Google allows you to alter the location data it captures if you notice that the accuracy could be improved.
3. Can I disable location tracking for specific devices?
Yes, you can turn off location reporting for a particular device if you don’t want to store location data linked to that device.
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