You now tell Google to forget everything you've searched for …but there's a catch

4 mins read

You will now be able to delete the last 15 minutes of search history from Google on mobile devices, the Californian company confirmed late this week. The new privacy feature, which was first unveiled during Google’s IO Developer Conference, is now rolling out to users worldwide.

The option to remove the last 15 minutes of your search activity will arrive on the iPhone version of the Google app to start, with Android users supposedly getting their hands on the feature later this year. And of course, regardless of whether you’re on Android or iOS, if you’ve waited longer than 16 minutes to enable the feature – some details will be missed. Once your searches are outside of that 15-minute window, you’ll need to wait for the auto-delete setting on your account to kick in.

On a Windows or Mac, there’s no capability to delete the last 15 minutes of searches from Instead, you’ll also have to rely on the option to auto-delete searches every three, 18, or 36 months. By default, Google Accounts auto-remove search data after 18 months.

Of course, on any device, you can delete individual websites from your internet history. However, searching on in the future would continue to surface a helpful (or, in this case – unhelpful) reminder of your previous searches regardless of what has been stripped out of your web history.

For example, while it has long been possible to remove from your history in Chrome, the next person who used the family could start typing ‘engage’ only to be prompted that you’d previously used Google to hunt for ‘engagement rings’.

The latest feature means that, if you suddenly realise that you’re hunting for birthday presents without Incognito Mode enabled, you can head to the main page, click your profile icon in the top right-hand corner, select Manage Your Google Account, and then click “Delete History” from the menu.

Google says it has put this new feature front-and-centre because it believes it will be hugely popular with fans. That suggests this might’ve been something that forgetful Google users have been asking the company to implement for some time now.

Either way, it’s nice that you don’t need to be so precious about jumping into Incognito Mode every time you find yourself shopping for a gift, looking up a career move on a work computer, or, erm, well, come to think of it, we’re pretty sure those are the only two things that Incognito Mode is ever used for.

For those who don’t know, Incognito Mode is the in-built privacy-focused browsing mode in Chrome. While it doesn’t hide your activity from your internet supplier (or the websites you’re visiting) it does stop your activity showing up in the web history or predictive search on Google.

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