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Google records and stores everything you ask Google Now – here’s how to find and delete it

Published Oct 13th, 2015 6:50PM EDT
Google Now Tips And Tricks Audio History

You may not realize this, but every time you ask Google Now a question, Google makes a recording of it and keeps it stored in its vast trove of information it stores on you. The Guardian’s Alex Hern recently discovered how to access his entire archive of voice recordings from his Google Now sessions and he felt a little unnerved to hear himself ask questions at times when he wasn’t exactly sober.

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“I found a recording of me asking for the nearest Waitrose in Glasgow (well, I am a Guardian journalist), lazily doing Fahrenheit conversions for cooking, trying to get driving directions to an Ikea, and just hurling random obscenities as a dumb, unfeeling computer,” he writes.

You can find your archive of Google Now audio files by logging into your Google account and then opening up the page for your Voice and Audio Activity. If you’ve turned on Google Voice and Audio Activity, you’ll see a list of all the voice commands you’ve entered into Google Now along with buttons next to each one that will let you play audio of them. You can also delete anything and everything you want to.

“When you use audio activation commands, such as ‘Ok Google’ or touching the microphone icon, your private Voice & Audio Activity stores some voice and other audio to your account,” Google explains. “A recording of the following speech/audio, plus a few seconds before, will be stored. This helps Google recognize your voice and improve speech and audio recognition in order to give you results faster and with fewer hassles.”

You can turn off Voice and Audio Activity on your Google account at this link, although this won’t stop Google from recording and archiving anything you ask Google Now. Instead, your voice recordings will be made anonymous without any direct links to your Google account.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.