How To Disable Google’s Personalization Of Search Results

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google personal informationIt’s never been a secret that Google uses your personal information (web history and browser data) by default to personalize your search results. Basically what it means is that what you see for some Google searches is (slightly) different from what other people see for the same searches.

You may like the feature (but want to switch it off for some searches) or you may want to disable it completely – it’s up to you and your purposes.

This post will look at various ways to do that.

1. Disable Google Personalization: Official Guide (Browser Independent)

Google does have an official way to disable the feature (I am listing it first because it’s official, NOT because it’s the easiest way to do it).

To disable Google personalization, you will need to do the following:

  • Sign out of Google when searching (OR: Disable / Pause and remove your Google web history);
  • Once signed out, in the top right corner of the search results page, click Web History and there Disable customization (OR: Clear your browser’s cookies).

google personal information

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2. Disable Google Personalization: One-Time (Browser Independent)

Again, you may like the feature and the fact that Google tries to show you what you really want (your favorite sites or sites you are more likely to like on top), but in some cases you will want to see “real” results (for example, to check how your own website is doing).

In this case, what you need to do is manually modify the search query URL path: just add this parameter:

pws=0

The “˜pws=0″² parameter removes the search personalization:

tracking personal google searches

If you don’t want to add the parameter manually, use this browser bookmarklet (courtesy of Google System Blog):

Turn off Google personalization

Just drag it to your Bookmarks toolbar and click after you search Google. The parameter will be added and the search results reloaded for you to see de-personalized results.

3. Disable Google Personalization: FireFox

If you don’t want to mess around with Google settings (if you don’t want to disable and remove your search history, for example) but at the same time you do not appreciate Google’s personalization of your search results, use this FireFox addon called Google Global.

Google Global will let you de-personalize all your Google searches but apart from that coolness it will also let you easily see search results for other countries (a great plugin to have!)

tracking personal google searches

4. Disable Google Personalization: Google Chrome

I am not aware of a similar extension that would disable Google search personalization in Google Chrome but I was able to set that manually. Use this post on removing personalized search in Chrome as a great step by step tutorial:

  1. Go to Options and click “Manage” next to your “Default search engine“;
  2. Click “˜Add‘ to create a new search engine and fill in the details:
  • Name: The name for your new (default) search engine
  • Keyword: Allows you to access it direct from the address bar (ala Smart Keywords in FireFox);
  • URL: Add the URL of a search result page here, and use the placeholder %s to show where the query should be.

Important! Include the pws=0 parameter to create a de-personalized search query:

tracking personal google searches

Finally, set the new search engine as default:

google personal information

Do you ever turn off Google’s personalized results?  Do you know of another method that we haven’t covered here? Please share your opinions in the comments section below.

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Comments (22)
  • Geofrs

    Simple folks to get Google in English- type Google UK and make that your start page
    via Tools >options >General -click use current page Voila!!

  • Geofrs

    Simple folks to get Google in English- type Google UK and make that your start page
    via Tools >options >General -click use current page Voila!!

  • Ann Smarty

    It really is the matter of what features you are looking for. I am still on FireFox (for I guess 4 years now) and never look back. Yes, it makes my computer freeze sometimes but I still can’t leave without it.

    Have you tried Opera for example?

  • Pamrose65

    I installed Chrome and used it for a few days. Uninstalled because every time I clicked, even on my email, I had to remove 4 requests for my info, including stuff I don’t have (on Mac.) Back to Firefox which has to be forced to quit everytime and chokes my machine w/ every new addon.Don’t wanna go to Safari but seem to have no choice….?

    • Ann Smarty

      It really is the matter of what features you are looking for. I am still on FireFox (for I guess 4 years now) and never look back. Yes, it makes my computer freeze sometimes but I still can’t leave without it.

      Have you tried Opera for example?

  • Ragnar Moller

    Passing throug a proxy in another country at work, I’ve long been aware that google forced the user into finding (a) commercial results and (b) masking resultes from other countries.

    If your’e shopping this certainly stops you from finding the best deals (which is exactly what google is selling) and if you’re troubleshooting, you’re limited to local information (which is highly annoying).

    I used to switch to Alta Vista to get more neutral result, but I didn’t do any comparisons.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.