How to keep your searches private 🔐
Wonder Tools — 3 simple ways to keep your Googling to yourself 👀
This holiday week I’m sharing a guest post by JR Raphael about three simple, smart ways to keep your searching private. JR writes an excellent newsletter about all things Android.
JR: I cover Google pretty closely in my Android Intelligence newsletter. I’m often surprised by how many people think they have to give up their privacy to use Google services.
It’s easy to benefit from Google's apps while avoiding data collection. Allow me to introduce you to a simple trio of privacy switches — like invisibility cloaks for your online activity.
These work whether you’re on iOS or Android. If you do use Android, stay tuned, 'cause I've got an extra-special collection of powerful privacy-boosters to share with you after this.
1. Keep Your YouTube Searches Secret
I've often searched for a random video on YouTube — an embarrassingly bad 90s pop song or a viral clip — and then had the sinking realization that YouTube would forever more be suggesting similar videos.
If you'd rather not have a search linger on as an eternal influence on your in-app recommendations or around-the-internet ads, here’s what you can do:
On both Android and iOS, tap your profile picture in the YouTube app's upper-right corner. Then tap "Turn on Incognito" to disconnect your current session from your Google account history.
That'll prevent anything you do from appearing in your YouTube history. Your video searches won’t affect the videos the service suggests for you or ads you see online.
The setting lasts until you either become inactive or manually turn it off, by going back into that same profile-picture menu.
2. Camouflage Your Google Maps History
Searching for something in Maps or maybe embarking on a road trip you'd rather not have available for future reference? No problem:
Tap your profile picture in the Maps app's upper-right corner
Tap "Turn on Incognito mode" in the menu that comes up
Once Maps restarts itself, anything you do will remain off the record. It won't appear in your location history, show up as a suggestion, or influence any other type of personalization.
3. Hide Your Google Searches
Opening up an Incognito browser tab keeps browsing private. But lots of us start searches in places other than the browser. Switching to an incognito tab isn't always an option, so here’s a fix.
Open up the Google app on your phone
Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner
Find and tap the line labeled "Delete last 15 minutes"
No matter what you searched or where, that'll remove all activity from the past quarter-hour for you — everything you've typed into the search box on your phone's home screen, pecked out in the search bar within the Google app, or even barked out as an inquiry to Google Assistant.
Open up the Google app on your favorite iDevice
Tap the search box toward the top of the screen
Tap the "Incognito mode" toggle directly above the keyboard
That'll keep any activity from being logged until you turn that same switch back off.
Good to know, right?
Of course, Google's own apps aren't your only option — and if you're using Android, I've got some spectacular off-the-beaten-path tools that'll protect your privacy in all sorts of interesting ways.
Sign up for my free Android Intelligence newsletter, where I share useful tips and tools like these every single Friday. When you get my welcome email, hit reply and let me know you want my Android Privacy App Pack.
I'll write back and send you a special collection of 12 privacy-protecting Android apps most ordinary phone-owning organisms have never even heard of.
Google never shows your personal data to anyone. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the company. It uses specific limited tidbits of your activity history to programmatically show you ads related to your interests, but humans absolutely aren't involved in that process — and the info isn't ever sold or shared in any way with anyone.
Protect yourself online 👇 Wonder Tools guidance
Guard your email address from spammers and stop sites from tracking you
Try this surprisingly handy way to protect yourself online.
Catch up w/ what’s new — 3 recent Wonder Tools posts
Check out 12 New Ways to Use AI
See the 7 Most Useful New Features in Canva’s New AI
Check out the new podcast app I switched to recently
New benefits for Wonder Tools subscribers
Upgrade to a paid subscription for new benefits added these past two weeks. An email is going out shortly to paid members who get:
Full archive access. All 150+ posts and best-of lists.
Private invites to beta tools + free 3-months of pro Canva, Tilda, & Genially.
Free live office hours. See new tools & get questions answered.
Thanks to those of you who have recently subscribed — I appreciate you!
Influential Life Lessons From Leaders and Mentors
In his weekly newsletter, Scott interviews leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through experiences and tactical strategy.
It’s perfect for professionals and entrepreneurs — to learn life lessons and insights from some of the most influential people of our time.
Subscribe now and join 100K+ readers
Back next week with a new original post!
Happy holidays to those celebrating. - Jeremy
I chose the fourth option (I’m an open book), but in truth I’m not an open book, I just don’t find that giving away this type of data--the kind that’s used to feed my behavioral profile for advertising--means much to me. I’m extraordinarily protective of credentials and financial data.
I keep reading tips like these, I tend to follow them, and then I hear of some breech or about some class action suit claiming that Google doesn't even follow its own rules. Then comes Edward Snowden who tells us that nothing we do online is "private". When push comes to shove, Big Brother will find out.