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01March

How to turn off Google search personalization?

googleSo the 1st of March is here, D-day for Google’s new privacy policy and search personalization. Essentially Google will now ‘pool’ your search and browsing data in one place , which it then uses to make recommendations, suggestions and target advertising. While this doesn’t represent a huge change in what data Google collects it has brought to the forefront issues which many already had with targeted ads. For those of you who dislike the feeling of what you search for trailing you around the web in the form of ads here’s a step by step for avoiding personalization. This information which Google claims to make simple to find, is in fact well hidden away.


The options for de-personalization are dependent on if you have some form of Google account or not. Remember this includes Gmail, Youtube and many others. And if you have a smartphone or tablet running android you almost certainly have created one of these accounts.

For those who have no Google accounts:

A quick warning – the cookies you delete via this process will also include many from online shops etc which give you recommendations each time you visit. So for example, if you like having Amazon recommend products to you then consider whether you want to proceed. It is possible to remove just the cookies from Google, but for most people the list of cookies in your browser will be so long it’s an unrealistic option. Once you have gone through this process these sites will begin re-building this data next time you visit so it’s not permanent as such.

First go into your browser’s settings dialogue and delete cookies:

In Internet Explorer – Tools > Delete Browsing History > Cookies

In Firefox – Options > Privacy > Remove Individual Cookies >  Remove All Cookies

In Chrome – Options > Under The Hood > Clear Browsing Data > Delete Cookies and Other Site Data

In Safari –

Next follow this link - http://www.google.com/history/optout - and select Disable Customizations Based on Search Activity. It’s important to remember that this optout option will be reset if you clear cookies like in step one again in the future, and you’ll have to optout again.

Finally if you use Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari you can download the Advertising Cookie Optout Plug-in here. This will permanently disable Google’s Double Click ads cookie. If you use Safari or another browser you can still remove the information Google uses to tailor advertising by Editing the preferences associated with this cookie, just follow the link from the Optout Plug-in page above or go straight to the to the Ads Preferences Manager.

For Google Account holders:

Follow the steps above while not signed into your account, then sign in and go to https://www.google.com/history and follow the steps to remove your web history.

While we’re not saying that everyone should follow these steps we think it only fair that this information is made more freely available. We’re happy to answer questions in the comments section below.

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