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How to choose what you share with Google

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Google’s decision to unify 60 of its services under one privacy policy has set off renewed interest in how, exactly, Google account holders have their privacy settings configured. The data integration component of the company’s new policy governs mostly what your Google accounts share with each other, and can’t be configured service by service. But Google users have control over some of what they share with the company itself through their accounts.

The search giant offers a couple of options on what information is associated with any given Google account. You can get an overview of all the data Google associates with your account by looking at the “Dashboard” option on your main Google account page. There’s a lot of information on this page, such as Android devices associated with the account, calendar information, contact information, Gmail history and records of activity on Google Music, Google Talk, Google Reader, Google Voice and social connections through Google contacts and chat.

You can edit some account preferences through this page, though other information, such as what Android devices are associated with your account, can’t be edited.

Apart from the Dashboard, users can turn off the setting that allows Google to record their search history . This record logs all your search history and the results that you’ve clicked on from those queries. To get to this menu, head to the “privacy” menu from the top navigation bar you see when signed in to your Google account. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the button that says “Go to Privacy Center.”

From there, you can see Google’s current policy — the company has also put a notice at the top of the page with a link to its new policy — and you can head to the “Privacy tools” menu by clicking on that link and scrolling down to “Web History Controls.” From here, you can pause, edit or remove all Web History.

If you want to delete your Google Web history from your computer, you should also clear it in your browser and from any Google toolbars you may have. To do so, head to your browser’s search history settings. In Firefox and Internet Explorer, you can clear history from the “Tools” menu. In Chrome, click on the wrench icon, head to the “Under the Hood” tab and choose the “Clear Browsing Data” option.

Finally, if you’re ever interested in what Google thinks it knows — or actually does know — about you for ad purposes, you can head to Google’s Ad Preferences settings while signed in and see what kind of profile Google has built for you. Of course, you can also opt out of both ads preferences and personalized ads from Google in your Gmail account from this menu.

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Experts: Google privacy shift will have greater impact on Android users

FAQ: Google’s new privacy policy

How to close your Google account

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