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Update 4/20: VentureBeat has confirmed with Google that the search history export feature was quietly introduced to everyone in January. Original article appears below.
Google now lets anyone export their web search history.
While the Internet giant already let you view your search history, and there have been some workarounds in the past, the company had been testing an official data download feature since last year. Now it’s available to everyone.
First noted by the unofficial Google Operating System blog over the weekend, the process of exporting your search history is pretty straightforward: click the little cog in the top-right of your screen in your Google Account history, and hit “Download.”
You’ll then see a warning message requesting that you actually read it because “it’s not the usual yada yada,” and are advised to set up 2-step verification.
Almost immediately, you’ll receive an email with a link to your search archive in Google Drive.
And here you’ll see a series of JSON files, split chronologically by quarter, which can then be saved as a ZIP file to your desktop. It’s worth noting that your search history will only show up for the period in which you have had the feature switched on in your settings, and for searches made while signed in to your Google account.
The latest offering is related to Google’s “Takeout,” a service launched back in 2011 designed to let users move their data out of Google. Thus far, it has catered to Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, Picasa, and a handful of other Google services. The main notable omission thus far, however, has been Google Search, while the continuing absence of a Google Wallet archive will also be a minor irk for some.
It’s worth noting here that downloading your search data doesn’t delete your search history, but you still can delete your search history manually.
Accessing your digital data as a locally stored archive is a feature of many online services, including Twitter, which lets you download your tweeting history; Facebook also offers a profile history archive service.
Letting anyone download their search history in this way is designed to give users a sense of control over their data, and the move will be welcomed by many. But the overarching concerns over how Google manages its users’ data won’t go away anytime soon.
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