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Security & privacy

Do this now: How to password-protect the page that lists all your Google searches and history

Unless you take extreme measures, almost everything you do online can be tracked, traced, stored or shared. One of the best ways to hide your trackable location is to use a virtual private network or VPN. Tap or click here for Kim’s VPN of choice. If Google knows where you are, so can cybercriminals.

There are ways to search privately. Tap or click here for five ways to keep your online searches private. But unless you take precautions, your search data is still stored on your local machine.

Fortunately, Google is adding a privacy tool that lets you hide your search history. Read on to find out how it works.

Here’s the backstory

A recent estimate concluded that there are nearly 3 billion Google Chrome users worldwide. Most of those users would love to keep their history private, but there are some drawbacks.

In most cases, Incognito Mode or private window browsing is a clean slate. You won’t be signed into any social media or email accounts, and none of your details will be available to use on your favorite websites.

So, Google came up with a solution. By somewhat blending private browsing and access to your favorite sites, Google updated a feature in the Web & App Activity settings. To protect your search history, you can add a password so that nobody can access your browsing or YouTube history.

Here’s how it works

The Web & App Activity feature is where Google stores all the online information it has on you. This includes everything from recent Google searches, YouTube search and watch history, how you use Google Maps and even Play Store activity.

It is your entire Google profile neatly packaged on your account. There are many reasons you would want to hide it. Now, you can safely lock it away by adding a password. That means if anybody gets a hold of your device or accesses your computer, they won’t be able to see your Google activity.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • If you are signed in to your Google account, navigate to the Activity settings here.
  • On the left-hand pane, click on Activity controls.
  • At the bottom of the Web & App Activity block, click on Manage my activity.
  • Next to Google protects your privacy and security, click on Manage My Activity verification.

The pop-up displayed is where you can choose whether you want to set up additional security for your account.

“If you turn on extra verification, Google will make sure it’s really you before you can see or delete your full history on My Activity. This can help keep your history safer on shared devices,” Google explains.

The options are “Require extra verification” or “Don’t require extra verification,” with the latter being the default option. If you choose to require extra verification, click on the radio button and hit “save.”

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