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How to use Google Search without compromising on privacy

#privacy

February 10, 2021

Let’s admit it — Google is the best search engine in terms of quality of the results. Phew. Now when I said that, let’s figure out how to use it without being tracked.

Google records all the activity you do on their services as well as 3rd-party sites. That is known as “active” and “passive” data collection. They do that to personalize ads.

What if we can pretend to be an anonymous user while searching but still be logged in on Google Docs, Google Meet, etc.? That way, at least our searches couldn’t be linked to our accounts.

In fact, it is pretty easy to achieve with help of browser extensions. The trick is to stop sending cookies to the www.google.com domain, and only it. Let’s take a look at how to do that in different browsers.

Safari

If you are a Safari user like me, you can use the wonderful 1Blocker to block cookies for a particular domain. You can find that option under the Custom => Block Cookies => New Rule.

Simply create a new rule to block cookies for the www.google.com domain excluding subdomains.

Enjoy the anonymous searches

Firefox

There seems to be a built-in option in Firefox to block cookies for a domain under Cookies and Site Data => Manage Exceptions. However, I’ve found out that it logs you out of all Google products which is undesirable.

Instead, I suggest giving uMatrix extension a try. With help of it, you can block the cookies only for the www.google.com.

Enjoy the anonymous searches

Brave

Similar to Firefox, use uMatrix extension to block cookies for a single domain.

Chrome

Don’t use Chrome.

Conclusion

Surprisingly, the method described here is rarely seen suggested on privacy-concerned resources. Though it combines the best of two worlds: best search quality and privacy.

P.S. You can use the same technique for bypassing paywalled websites like Medium.


Written by Anton Mironov.
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