Want to know what you were searching on the Internet on May 21, 2008? Google has a record of it, and now, you can too.
Google has quietly rolled out a new feature that allows users to download their entire search history from the moment they started searching for things on Google to the most recent search query they typed. The search engine has long allowed users to view their entire search history before, but it is only recently that Google added a feature to download the files.
The feature, which Google introduced in January, was unearthed by Alex Chitu of the unofficial Google Operating System blog. To download your search history, you will need to go to Google Web History while logged in to your Google account. Click the gear icon on the upper right corner of the screen and select Download. This will prompt you to create an archive of your search history, with a link that will be sent to your email once the archive is created.
Google warns its users about the potential dangers of creating a downloadable archive of their search history. The search engine says the warning is "not the usual yada yada yada" and advises users not to download their search history on public computers and enable two-step verification for their Google accounts.
Google will deliver the search history as JSON files, which can be opened and read as plain text files. The search engine will also automatically save a copy of past searches in the user's Takeout folder in Google Drive, which is meant for users who want to transfer their data from Google to other websites.
The new feature is part of Google's wider efforts to make data more available to its users in response to criticism from the public and government agencies that the search engine restricts users from accessing and controlling their own data. Users can only view and download their search history if they have "Save search history" turned on for their Google accounts.
Those who do not want Google to save their search history can now stop Google from doing so by going to Google Account History and toggling the options to save all kinds of searches, including all web and app activity, places you've been to, voice commands, information from your Android devices, and all YouTube videos searched and watched.
You can also opt to delete your entire search history under Google Web History by choosing Remove Items instead of Download. Choose the time period for which you want to delete your search history then click Remove.
Photo: Luis Villa del Campo | Flickr