It takes some time, but you can completely control the location history Google collects from your devices.
We’ve already covered how to remove individual locations and history items from Google Maps on Android, but when you need to access and manage all of your location history, you need to hop onto the computer. As the old saying goes, "knowledge is power" — and we’re going to give you all of the tools necessary to know what information Google knows about your location, and how to clean it up or stop further reporting.
Accessing and managing your Google location history
First thing’s first, you’ll need to make sure you’re signed into your Google account and go to the Google Location History dashboard on the web. On this page, you’ll see every bit of history Google has logged for where your Google-connected devices have been located, so long as you have opted in to location reporting on the device.
It can be a surprising experience to see the fine location information Google has on you.
You can go day-by-day through the history using the date picker on the left side of the screen, with the map populating the information collected on that day. Google does its best job at coordinating timestamps to show where you moved throughout that day, and associates them based on the pace of movement to try and determine if you were walking, riding a bike, riding transit or driving. If you have more than one Android device turned on with location reporting, your map will be far less useful for determining where you went — Maps is more likely to think you’re constantly bouncing back and forth between the location of the two devices.
If you don’t want Google to remember data from a specific day, use the date picker on the left to select the day and then click the trash icon next to the date. A pop-up window will ask you to confirm, and explain that you will never be able to retrieve the data. Once deleted, as far as Google’s concerned you never made those movements.
If for some reason you wish to delete all location data Google has from your devices, go back to the location dashboard home page and click the small trash icon in the bottom-right corner. Again you’ll be asked to confirm, and in this case you should think really hard about this decision — while it may be creepy to see Google have this data, it’s also very useful for many products that you use like Google Maps, Google Assistant and more.
Double check your phone’s location history settings
If looking at your location history is a bit of a shocking experience as to how much location data is being stored from your devices, you may want to consider looking at the location history settings on your devices. Though the interface may look slightly different depending on your phone, everyone can access the location history settings by going into their phone’s settings and tapping on the Google section (sometimes "Google Settings"). You can then tap Location and scroll down to Google Location History.
With just a few taps you can turn off location history — for a day or a month or as long as you want.
You’ll see a breakdown of every device that has your Google account (or multiple accounts, if you have them) on it and has location history turned on — in my case, it’s a lot of phones. You can choose whether each one is reporting its location to Google, and jump directly into Google Maps to see the latest timeline information for the phone you’re currently on. Here, you’ll be able to make edits and deletions, but not as quickly as you can on the web as detailed above.
If you want to temporarily turn off location history without deleting old history, you can do so by simply toggling off "Use Location History" at the top of the settings page.
Take the time, take control of your location history
Now that you have the tools and know-how, I encourage you to spend a little time checking your device’s settings and seeing what location information Google has collected from those devices. It isn’t always approachable or simple, but now that you know the right places to go you have the power to manage it yourself!
Update July 2018: Updated and improved with the latest links and information for taking control of your Google location history.
July 27, 2018 at 08:05AM