The Activity History feature on your Windows PC is used to record all the things that you do on your system. It tracks the apps and services you use, files you open, and websites you browse on to provide more personalized experiences and relevant suggestions.
While Activity History has its uses, due to privacy reasons many users might want to disable the feature. This post will go on to demonstrate how to view, clear, and even turn off your Activity History altogether on your Windows PC.
Viewing Your Windows Activity History
To view your Windows Activity History, follow these steps:
- On your PC, go to “Start -> Settings.” Alternatively, use the Win + I keyboard shortcut to go straight to “Settings” in Windows.
- Click on the “Privacy” option. In Windows 11, look for “Privacy & security” instead.
- Select “Activity History” on the left side of the screen.
- Click the “Manage My Microsoft account activity data” link. This will take you to Microsoft’s account login page on your default browser.
- Sign into your Microsoft account.
- Your computer screen will display your entire Activity History across various data types (Apps, Voice, Search, Browse, Media, and Location). Click the drop-down arrows to view the content of each data category in detail.
Clearing Your Windows Activity History
Clear your PC’s Activity History is quite easy. Here’s what to do.
- Go to “Activity History” like we showed you above.
- Scroll down to “Clear Activity History” and click on the “Clear” button below. This will clear all the activity history on your PC for the account you’re currently using.
Disabling Activity History on Your PC
Some users might opt to disable activity tracking for privacy reasons. On the other hand, you could leave the feature on and just disable the option to send your Activity History to your Microsoft account for access on other devices.
- In the “Activity history” section, uncheck the “Store my activity history on this device” box. In versions older than Windows 10 or 11, this setting is called “Let Windows collect my activities from this PC.”
- Once you deactivate this setting, you won’t be able to use any of the on-device features that require Activity History. However, this does not affect your browsing history in Microsoft Edge.
- To stop sending the Activity History of your work or school account to Microsoft, uncheck the “Send my activity history to Microsoft” box. In versions older than Windows 10, this setting is called “Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is my Activity History stored elsewhere outside of my PC?
Yes. Your Activity History is also stored in the Microsoft cloud. When you clear your Activity History via your computer’s settings, the data stored in the cloud (associated with your Microsoft account) will also be deleted permanently.
What Windows features require your Activity History?
Some features on Windows require access to your Activity History to offer full functionality. For instance, with the feature enabled, Microsoft will be able to track your activities and display them in your Timeline. As such, let’s say you were working on a PowerPoint presentation but you had to step out, you will see the PowerPoint activity in your Timeline once you return to your PC. Other Windows activity tracking features include Microsoft Edge browsing history, Bing search history, Cortana voice searches, and “Your location” data history.
Can I customize other privacy settings on my PC?
Yes. You can customize every feature listed under your computer’s “Privacy” settings. For instance, you can “Let Windows improve Start and search results by tracking app launches”. But if you’re not really comfortable with that, you can simply disable the feature. Another interesting “Privacy” setting to consider customizing is the “Ink and Typing Personalization” feature. When enabled, this feature will use your typing history to curate a local vocabulary that provides more personalized typing suggestions. To further protect your personal information and ensure your safety online, you might also like to check out this list of security and privacy extensions.
Image credit: Unsplash All screenshots by Tayo Sogbesan
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