When news broke that a tool called the Location History Visualizer could use Google data to create a heat map of all the places you’ve ever been, it was met with equal parts fascination and trepidation. Exactly how much does Google know about your travels and daily commute?
Unless you’ve specifically changed your location history settings, the tech giant probably knows just about everything. As Todd Haselton wrote for CNBC, Google knew when he arrived at his office—down to the exact minute—and also stored a copy of the photos he took at each location he visited.
This information is gathered and stored even when you’re not using Google Maps or another Google app. The company says this personal map is only visible to you, but if you’re uncomfortable with the concept of your whereabouts being digitized, there’s a way to disable Google’s location tracking feature.
Visit Google's Privacy Checkup page, then scroll to “Location History” and select “Manage Location History.” Next, scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Manage Location History” once again, then toggle the button to turn tracking off.
You can also delete past data by clicking “Delete all location history” under settings on the “Location History” map. But wait—that's not the final step: You’ll also need to visit your Google Activity Controls and turn “Web & Activity” off. After that, you’ll finally be off the grid.
Just keep in mind that “some Google apps may not work the same as they did before,” according to Google. The company uses location data to offer real-time traffic updates, personalized maps, and recommendations based on the places you’ve been.