Google Search history: An unsung top genealogy research tool?

Google Search history: An unsung top genealogy research tool?

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Google recently announced that the Google search history of Google account holders will be available for download by the account holder.

 

Noticing this made me stop and think about just how much I do use the history feature on my browser to find pages I’ve previously visited.

Google Search history downloads.
Google Search history.

The reason?

When doing genealogy research including extracting data and images from pages and saving them to either this website or my genealogy software, it’s all too easy to accumulate several open tabs and windows for ease of use.

One downfall of this, however, is that it is all too easy to inadvertently close tabs or windows earlier than intended and not remembering the page.

My browser history is the first place I go to search for the page and reopen it.

Can you just image being able to do the same for previous searches on Google?

Google search history.
Access your Google search history.

The downloaded database of archived searches can be searched by keyword using the ‘Find’ function in the menu of your chosen database software.

If this fails to turn up the desired search, it’s possible to search via the input of links. Although this may seem very cumbersome and time-consuming, it would be fairly easy to minimize the search time required by only searching in known, specific date ranges when searches took place.

Viewing one’s Google Search history is relatively simple:

  • Go to history.google.com and log in with your Google account.
  • Click the calendar view to take a look at what you searched on any given date.
  • Click the settings button on the top right corner to download the search database.

Items in search can be deleted by checking the box next to them and clicking the ‘remove items’ option.

This procedure exports a list of your searches to Google Drive in a ZIP archive, dividing the files by year and quarter.

For those concerned about the privacy of their online and search activities, it is possible for them to delete all or part of the search record.

To delete your entire search history:

  • Click settings.
  • Select remove items.
  • Pick a time frame.

It is important to note that only Google account holders can see their data.

Google also warns that users should not download their search archive on a public computer to protect their privacy.


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