Voice search is one of Google’s most impressive skills, allowing users to make inquiries using natural language. It’s the future! Nobody searches by typing the old fashioned way. The only caveat is that Google records and stores every one of your search inquiries.
Before the hysteria gets out of control, Google stores voice searches on its servers in an effort to improve its technology and ultimately provide a better experience for users. But for anyone who feels creeped out by the fact that your voice searches are somewhere on the Internet, there’s an easy way to delete them for good. So long as you don’t mind voice searches being maybe a tiny bit worse in the future.
I looked at my history, and most of it was just a bunch of nonsense recordings with no transcript. The others, however, were spot on recordings of my voice searching for such mundane things like whether it would rain on a particular day, or what time Trader Joes closes. Back in March I also asked how to say, “Where’s the bathroom?” in German. My most recent recording, according to Google, happened on Oct. 7, though it’s just a bunch of far-off noise; I’m not sure how a voice search would have been triggered in the first place.
To find your own recordings, head on over to google.com/acount, and then click on “Personal info & privacy.” Scroll down and you’ll see a card for “voice search and commands,” where you can then manage your activity. (You can manage activity for other things like search on YouTube, on the Web and more.) Once you’re in your voice and audio activity, you can easily delete recordings in bulk, or you can do so individually.
Google says that only you can see your data, and you can turn the feature off entirely if you prefer. However, Google warns that pausing voice and audio activity will limit or disable things like OK Google. Here’s what Google says you get by leaving it on:
Voice & Audio Activity helps recognize your voice and improve speech recognition by storing your voice and audio inputs to your account (for example, when you say “OK Google” to do a voice search).
If this is something you’d rather not Google keep tabs on, just shut it off and be done with it. I don’t usually use voice searches or commands, so most of my recordings are pretty generic. If Google wants to know I was searching for the weather in Los Angeles, so be it. But if that’s something that doesn’t sit well with you, you can always opt out.
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