Google tracks your purchases. Here’s how to see what Gmail knows

Google tracks your information in ways you may not know about.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
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Google logo is seen on an android mobile phone

Google is tracking your purchases.

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Google has been keeping tabs on what you buy through your Gmail inbox and storing them in a Google Account page that evidently no one knew about. This purchase tracking has gone on for several years before being discovered. In essence, this creates a list of your online shopping history that can stretch back five years. Google said it is doing this to help its users keep track of everything they've purchased in one place -- but people are seeing this as an invasion of privacy .

Google has promised that you're the only one who can see this data.

We'll show you how to find your online purchases on Google's My Activity page, manage what's being tracked and delete what's there.

See your purchases, subscriptions and reservations


1. Google tracks multiple email types through Gmail, including purchases, payments, subscription services and reservations, say for hotels, cars and airline tickets. To view and manage them, start by navigating to https://myaccount.google.com/.

2. Select Payments & subscriptions.

3. From here, you can click into each grouping. You can view items here, which could include a subscription to YouTube or Google Photos , a Google Music payment or apps you bought from the Google Play store. Reservations can include hotels, restaurants and flights.

4. Click into each item and tap "Remove reservation," "Remover purchase" and so on to delete anything you don't want stored in your Gmail account.

Manage your web and app activity

Your Web and App Activity includes searches through Google, Maps and Play. This is how you can update your settings. You'll be able to pause activity from being recorded and delete anything that has been saved -- especially private information.

1. Visit https://myaccount.google.com/.

2. Select Data & personalization.

3. Tap or click Manage your activity controls.

4. From here, you can turn off and delete activity being saved to Google. Even if you're not online, Google is still able to keep track of your activity and will sync the data once you're online, so keep your Web & App Activity off if you want to keep things private.

The logo of google is seen in a smartphone

Delete any data you don't want stored on Google.

SOPA Images

View your voice and audio activity

1. Go to https://myaccount.google.com/ and select Data & personalization.

2. Tap or click Voice & Audio Activity.

3. Select Manage Activity.

4. On this page, you'll be able to see all voice recordings and change your settings.

Watch this: Google's latest tracking controversy, Amazon might purchase a theater chain

Location history

If you have an Android, you probably use Google Maps to navigate from place to place. Google keeps track of your location history, so if you want to delete it, you'll need to follow these steps.

1. Go to Settings on your Android device and tap Google > Google Account.

2. Tap Data & personalization.

3. Select Location History.

4. Tap Manage Timeline, where you'll be taken to Google Maps.

5. Tap the three stacked dots and select Settings. From here, you can delete your location history.

Google Pay logo is seen on an android mobile phone

Your Google Pay transactions are stored in your account. 

SOPA Images/Getty Images

Choose what you want (or don't want) saved

1. Go to your Google account.

2. Tap or click Data & personalization.

3. Select My Activity.

4. At the top right corner, tap or click the three stacked dots.

5. Select Delete activity by. From here you can choose to delete the activity by date, topic or product.

6. A window will pop up letting you know your activity will be permanently deleted and no longer tied to you. Tap or click Delete.