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One buried Google Maps setting you need to change now

Remember the old GPS units we used to get around with back in the day? Before that, maybe you printed directions from MapQuest or another site. And before that, we relied on actual maps that no one knew how to fold quickly.

Today, you open up your phone and click an app. It’s easy, sure, but you might not think much about how much information you give away with every trip and every search.

Speaking of searches, it’s high time you cleared your browser search history. If you don’t do this regularly, start now. Tap or click for steps in all the major browsers.

Before you use Google Maps to get somewhere, you can make one simple change to take back at least a piece of your privacy.

See everywhere you’ve gone

Did you know Google Maps works even if you don’t have a Google account associated with it? You won’t get all the features, though. Signing in allows you to save locations, like your home and work, and remember your preferred routes.

Like any navigation app, Google Maps uses the GPS location on your phone to determine where in the world you are. Every time you navigate somewhere, your location is stored in your profile.

That might not seem so bad. After all, your navigation app needs to know where you are. But all that info is seldom deleted from your account. For instance, you can check where you were on this day five years ago.

It is eye-opening to check this list. Maybe it’ll feel like a fun walk down memory lane. Or perhaps it will creep you out.

DONE WITH BIG TECH? Google Search alternatives that respect your privacy

Here’s how to see your history:

  • When signed in, click on your profile picture to open your Google Account or go to your Google Account page.
  • On the left, click on Data & privacy.
  • Under “History Settings,” click on Location History.
  • At the bottom, click Manage history.

You will see a map with details like your saved home and work locations and all the recorded trips you’ve made over the years. You can use the Timeline box in the top left corner to search by year or down to a specific day.

Try going back a few years. If trips are recorded, you’ll see a blue bar you can click. Select it to get highlights, like visits you made, places you traveled, and the exact route you took. You’ll even see how long it took you to get there.

RELATED: Police have them. You should have one too. Here’s a list of the best affordable dash cams.

You can turn this tracking off

After you’re done exploring, you can choose to stop Google from keeping track of your movement in this way.

  • When signed in, click on your profile picture to open your Google Account or go to your Google Account page.
  • On the left, click on Data & privacy.
  • Under “History Settings,” click on Location History.
  • You can toggle this off. Note: Google saves where you go even when you aren’t using a specific Google service.

Switching this off stops tracking in the future, but it will retain a copy of your history.

To completely delete your location history data, click on the Auto-delete option. You can choose to auto-delete the data older than three months, older than 18 months or older than 36 months. You can still manually delete anything before that.

If you turn this setting off, Google warns you may not see recommendations based on your history or trips for things like making your commute easier. Your location may still be saved when you use other Google services, like Google Photos.

STORAGE FULL? The hidden iPhone setting that can eat up all your storage in a flash

NEED A HAND WITH A PESKY PRINTER, NASTY UPDATES OR WI-FI PROBLEMS YOU CAN’T CRACK? Get answers! Post your tech questions for concrete answers from me and other tech pros. Visit my Q&A Forum and get tech help now.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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