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Google adds option to instantly delete your last 15 minutes of search history

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There’s also a new way to protect your search history on shared devices

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google is launching a new privacy feature for search that lets you instantly delete your last 15 minutes of search history on mobile, the company announced on Thursday. The new option was first revealed alongside several other search and Chrome improvements at I/O 2021 and is now rolling out to everyone.

The option to delete your last 15 minutes of search history is currently only available in Google’s iOS app and is headed to Android later this year. On desktop, your options for deleting searches are limited to setting your history to auto-delete every three, 18, or 36 months (18 months is the default for new accounts), or deleting searches by hand. You can see what the new option looks like in the iOS app below:

Deleting the last 15 minutes of your Google search life is as simple as tapping one button.
Image: Google

Google says it only tracks your search history to “personalize” your experience when the “Web and App Activity” setting is enabled. Adding a way to instantly delete your history is great for your peace of mind, but it also means you can get some of the benefits the people who’ve taken the time to mess with their settings receive, without doing the extra work. Think of it as an emergency “oh no” button for terrible, embarrassing, or just plain private searches. If you’d rather just secure your searches from prying, non-Google eyes rather than delete them, Google also offers the option to password protect your search history.