Google Maps tracks wherever you go with your smartphone, even when you’re not using the app. Even if it’s as mundane as your weekly grocery trip, Google Maps has it saved for you to see in its Android and iOS apps. And while it’s mostly used for recommendations and your reference, you might not want Google Maps to keep such a rich location history.
Location History, as the feature is officially known, allows you to see everything you’ve been. It’s perfect for trying to remember that restaurant you visited a few years ago when you were out of town, but it’s not always a good feeling to know that Google is always follow you. And if a malicious hacker ever breaks into your smartphone or Google account, it can track where you̵
Fortunately, you can easily go to Google Map settings on your iPhone or Android phone and turn off your location history completely. You can also delete all or parts of your older location history while only keeping newer information. Even if you’re not concerned about having Google Maps track you, deleting your old location history can help you get better recommendations and tips, especially if you’ve recently moved.
Access your location history in Google Maps
To access the various location history settings, launch Google Maps and tap the profile picture of your Google account in the search bar. Then tap “Settings” in the menu, then find and tap “Personal Content” in the list.
Option 1: Turn off location history
Your first option is to turn off your travel logging completely, which is the hardest option, but the only one that will keep Google Maps from constantly saving where you go, even when you’re not using the app. Below the Location settings section, tap “Location History is on.” If you don’t see that, tap Location History Settings instead.
If you have more than one Google account on your device, you may be asked to select the account you want to change the settings for, so do that. If you tend to use them all on your phone at some point, repeat this step for each account.
You should now be on the Activity controls page for your Google account. Here you can easily turn off the ‘Location History’ switch to stop Google Maps from always tracking you.
After you disable this feature, Google will explain how “pausing” Location History can restrict or completely disable certain features when using Google Maps. It doesn’t affect your location services for other Google services. When you’re done, tap the blue “Pause” button at the bottom and your location history will be turned off.
Option 2: Delete a location history range
If you don’t want to turn off Location History, you can delete at least some part of it that you don’t want to save anymore. For example, if you’ve visited a location that you don’t often visit and you now get recommendations for the place, you can delete the dates you were there to stop that. Going somewhere you don’t want anyone ever to know about would be another reason to remove history from that time frame.
Back in the Personal content page, tap ‘Delete Range of Location History’. Then choose a start and end date. Once you’ve selected the correct dates, tap “Continue” (on Android) or “Delete” (on iOS). Google will confirm the dates you want to remove from history and explain how this information will be removed from your Google account. Tap “I understand and want to delete” and then “Delete” to delete the data.
If you are not sure which Google account you were signed into for Google Maps during the duration of your deleted range, switch accounts in Google Maps and repeat this option for each account. You can switch accounts from your profile picture in the search bar (tap the dropdown icon next to your account and choose a different one).
Option 3: Delete the entire location history manually
If you want to keep using the Location History feature, but want a clean slate – because you may have moved – you can manually delete your Location History. In the Personal content page, tap “Delete All Location History”, and a popup will appear. Again, Google will warn you that deleting your location history can affect the way Google Maps works, but if that’s okay with you, check the box next to ‘I understand and want to delete’ and click ‘Remove’.
If you want a clean slate for all of your Google accounts, make sure to switch accounts in Google Maps and repeat this option for each account. You can switch accounts from your profile picture in the search bar (tap the dropdown icon next to your account and choose a different one).
Option 4: Automatically delete older location history
Finally, you can choose to have Google Maps automatically delete your location history for you. In the Personal content page, tap “Automatically Delete Location History” to bring up your options. You will see three different options to choose from:
- Automatically delete activity older than three months
- Automatically delete activity older than 18 months
- Automatically delete activity older than 36 months
Depending on how much you’re moving or how much location data you want to store at your leisure, you may want your activity cleared every few months instead of every few years, but it’s all up to you. Whichever option you choose, tap “Next” at the bottom right and confirm your preference for automatic removal. On the page, you can see the date until which your location history will be deleted and how many places you want to delete.
Likewise with all other options: if you want to do this for all of your Google accounts, make sure to switch accounts in Google Maps and repeat this option for each account. You can switch accounts from your profile picture in the search bar (tap the dropdown icon next to your account and choose a different one).
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