Windows 10 collects and saves your activity history both on your computer and to the cloud, from browsing history to location information. Luckily, Microsoft makes it easy to see all the data they store and allows you to delete it.
Let’s explore the different ways Microsoft stores data on you, and how to view your Windows 10 activity history.
What Data Does Windows 10 Track?
The data that Windows collects includes:
- Edge browsing history
- Bing search history
- Location data (if it’s enabled)
- Cortana voice commands
- Windows 10 usage for the Timeline feature
If you use Microsoft’s HealthVault or the Microsoft Band device, any activity collected through that service is also stored. Microsoft says it collects this data to provide you with more relevant results and content that is useful for you.
How to Delete Your Windows 10 Activity History
You can easily see what data Microsoft stores and how to delete it. There are two ways you can clear your recent activity on Windows 10:
- From your computer’s settings.
- From your Microsoft cloud account.
To do it on your computer, click on the Settings button on the Start menu.
Then, click Privacy.
On the left bar, select Activity History.
Under Clear Activity History, click the Clear button.
This will clear the activity history for the account you’re currently using.
How to Disable Activity Tracking in Windows 10 Timeline
Back in 2018, Microsoft added a new Timeline feature that tracks all your recent activities on Windows 10. You can view it by pressing the ALT+Windows keys. You’ll see all the windows you currently have open, as well as all the files you’ve opened in the past.
This activity syncs between all your devices, so if you’d rather Windows didn’t store your activity, you should turn this feature off.
To do this, access the Activity History page as you did above. From here, uncheck Store my activity history on this device. This stops Windows from remembering what you did on your timeline.
Then, untick Send my activity history to Microsoft to stop your data from being sent to Microsoft’s servers. Now that both boxes are unticked, you should notice a lack of activity tracking in the future.
How to View All Windows 10 Activity History
If you want to view all activity history on Windows 10, you can do so on the Microsoft account privacy website. When you access the website and log in, you’ll see a range of categories. Each one will take you to a page that shows all the information Microsoft has stored about you, relating to that category.
There’s a lot to take in on this page, so here’s a brief rundown of each category and which you should check.
The Windows 10 Activity History Categories
Browsing history handles the data you’ve stored via browsing Microsoft’s browser, Edge. As such, if you only use Edge to download Firefox or Chrome, you probably won’t find a lot of data here. If Edge is your primary browser, take a look to see what browsing habits are stored here.
Search History is only useful if you use Bing. When you use a search engine like Google, they tend to “remember” what you searched for to improve your experience. Microsoft uses your search data to better tailor search results, Cortana answers, and future search suggestions.
Location Activity includes the times where you let a Windows device get access to your location. It’s good to double-check this part to see if Windows is storing your location.
Voice Activity should be the top priority if you’ve ever used Cortana before. Here, you’ll find saved clips of you giving commands to Cortana, used by Microsoft for better speech recognition.
Media Activity is where Microsoft keeps tabs on what you enjoy watching to further your recommendations. If you’re getting weird suggestions because of something someone else watched, it’s worth checking out.
Product and service cover how you use Microsoft products. This category splits into two sections; activity for actions you’ve performed and performance for system logs.
Cortana’s Notebook is where Cortana keeps all her logs. If you use Cortana a lot, you’ll find a lot of data stored here. It’s a good idea to give it a once-over to see what Cortana is logging and erase anything you don’t like.
You can also click on the Activity History tab to will view a full list of all data types: voice, search, browsing history, and location information. Microsoft also makes it easy to filter down to each category by clicking on it
How to Use Windows 10 and Maintain Your Privacy
Microsoft is eager to get everyone using Windows 10 as quickly as possible, resorting to offering free upgrades to encourage migration. However, users have never considered Windows 10 as a bastion of privacy. Ever since its release, users have discovered ways that the operating system tracks what you do.
As such, a privacy-minded person may feel uneasy that their new PC has Windows 10 on it. If you’d rather not scrub the drive clean to install a different operating system, there are steps you can take to reduce what data Microsoft gathers about you.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for Windows 10 privacy. Recommended steps range from setting options during the initial OS setup to installing third-party tools to keep tabs on everything.
The topic of maintaining your privacy while using Windows 10 is so big it deserves its own guide. Be sure to check out our complete guide to Windows 10 privacy settings for the full run-down.
Keeping Your Data Safe in Windows 10
Windows 10 is not the privacy advocate’s top choice for operating systems, but you can monitor your data and tweak the privacy settings to suit your needs. Now you know how to view the data Microsoft has on you, and how to erase them.
If you don’t trust that Microsoft has taken their eyes off you, try one of these tools to manage privacy settings in Windows .
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