How to clear your Google search cache on Android (and why you should)

Google Pixel logo on phone with Google logo in background

SOPA Images/Getty Images

Did you know your Android device retains your Google searches such that numerous sites and services can use that data to personalize ads and other types of recommendations? For many, that’s fine and that level of personalization makes using the platform easier. There are others, however, that view this as an invasion of privacy. Such users like to retain control over how much of their search history is saved and when it’s deleted.

Also: How to clear the cache on your Android phone or tablet

At this point in the mobility game, everyone should be concerned about their privacy. Although you might not wind up with your identity stolen, you do risk many third parties viewing your history and using it to target your device with ads, which can get a bit overwhelming.

Fortunately, Google makes it possible to not only manually delete that data but also set devices to auto-delete the search cache. You might not think you need such a feature, but trust me when I say these types of intrusions are only going to get worse. 

Also: The best Android phones right now

I’m going to walk you through the process of both — manually deleting that search cache and configuring Android to auto-delete saved data.

How to manually clear the Google search cache

What you’ll need: To do this, you’ll need an Android device that is connected to your Google account. I’ll be demonstrating on a Pixel 6 Pro running Android 12 with the April security patch applied. 

Also: How to enable Notification History on your Android

This process should work the same on most modern Android devices. If, however, you find the instructions don’t apply to your device, it might take a bit of research to discover how it’s done on an older version of Android.

Let’s get to work.

From your Android App Drawer, open the Google app. In the resulting window, tap your profile image in the top-right corner.

Google app

The Google app running on a Pixel 6 Pro.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

From the resulting menu, tap Search history.

Google app menu

The Google app menu makes it easy to quickly delete the last 15 minutes of your search history.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you tap Delete last 15 minutes, you’ll immediately clear anything you’ve searched for in the past fifteen minutes. 

Also: How to clear the cache on your iPhone

If you need to delete more than that, tap Search history. In the next window, tap Verify at the bottom of the screen.

Verify button under Search history

You must first verify it’s you before continuing.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You’ll be prompted for either your PIN, pattern, password, fingerprint, or face scan (depending on how you have Android configured for the unlocking process).

After a successful verification, you should then see a Delete drop-down.

Delete drop-down

Upon successful verification, the Delete drop-down is made available.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Tap the Delete drop-down to reveal the available options.

Select the time frame for which you want to delete (today, custom, or all-time) and Android will empty the cache for that specified range. You will not be prompted to okay the deletion, it will just happen. Once deleted, that cache is gone.

Delete drop-down options

The available cache delete options for Android 12 on a Pixel 6 Pro.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Auto-deletion setup

If you prefer to have things done automagically, Google has made it possible to set the cache to be auto-deleted. To do this, go back to the same place you ran the manual deletion and tap the Auto-delete (Off) entry. In the resulting window, tap to enable Auto-delete activity older than and then, from the drop-down, select the date range to be deleted.

Auto-delete enabling

Enabling auto-delete so you don’t have to worry about manually taking care of the process.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You can choose from three months, 18 months, and 36 months. Once you’ve made your selection, tap Next and then tap Confirm to finish the setup.

Also: How to clear the Opera browser cache

And that’s all there is to deleting your Google search cache (either manually or automatically). If you’re concerned about your online privacy, consider this a must-do. And remember, since you can only set auto-delete for a minimum of three months, you might want to regularly go back to the screen and manually delete your cache (to keep your Android device from saving cached items that are not more than three months old).