Although Google does provide access to easily download some Google Account data, they do not provide direct access to download your entire Google Web History. I did a bit of research, and although you can access it via an RSS feed 1000 records at a time, it can still be difficult and time consuming to obtain in its entirety. I took it upon myself to develop a simple solution that combines all of the RSS feed files into a single, downloadable CSV file.
Update: I’ve updated the script and added some enhancements. Find out more in my updates to the Google History download script.
First of all, let me put your mind at rest by informing you that my solution will not do anything malicious with your Google Account or your Google Web History:
This solution works all within your browser. None of your Google Account data or history is transmitted or received to any server, other than Google’s servers. This tool downloads your Google Distory directly from Google to your computer and your browser. The source code for my bookmarklet is freely available to download, review, and modify, under the GPL v3.
I do not want the liability nor the responsibility of handling anyone else’s private Google Account data, so priority number one for me in developing this tool was that it all had to work on the client-side, without having to pass the data through any servers. I know that if I were to use a third-party solution, I would only use a solution constructed in the manner I built mine, and I’m sure most other people feel the same way.
If you would prefer not to use this tool and manually download your Google Web History, scroll down to the Technical Details section for information on how to do this.
You’ll need flash in order to use this tool. It makes use of a library that uses a small Flash movie to convert the downloaded data into a file, within the browser (read the technical details for more info). To use it simply drag and drop this bookmarklet onto your web browser’s bookmark bar:
Next, visit your Google Web History. Unless you’ve visited it during your current browser session or have previously set up your browser to remember your computer for accessing your history, you’ll be asked for your Google Account password.
After you log in, click on the Download Google Web History bookmark you just created. If you’re using Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, the browser will warn you that the page has insecure content. Load Anyway, which will refresh the page, and then you’ll have to click the bookmark again.
I do not believe Firefox has this security check, and I’m not sure about Safari. In either case, if you do see a security warning, allow the page to reload and then click the bookmark once again. Next, you should see the page darken, and a box appear informing you that your history is being downloaded.
Prepare yourself for a long wait if you have an extensive history. To give you an idea, my history has over 44k searches and my tool downloaded over 135k records and the CSV file was about 28MB! If you get sick of waiting, you can click the cancel button (you can see what it looks like in my update post, the screenshot below is out-of-date) and download what has been done so far.
Eventually, all of your history will be downloaded and you will be presented with some search statistics and a button to download to a CSV file.
Update: More info on usage is available in the usage section of the latest update on this script to download Google History.
If you share your computer with others, there is something of which you should be made aware. If you configure the browser to keep you logged into your Google Account, you will see the history generated by anyone using the computer (unless they log you out). When you see a bunch of searches for knitting needles, quilting, and dentures, don’t be alarmed and suspect an octogenarian of having hacked your Google account. It’s only Grandma surfing on your computer while logged into your Google Account.
If you do not even want the temptation of seeing what websites the others around you are visiting and what they are searching (good for you), make sure to always log out of your Google account when you’re done using the computer. Alternatively, you could just make sure to never check the “remember me” checkbox when you log into your Gmail, Google+, Google Docs, Google Reader, or any other Google services. That’s generally good practice anyway, when using a shared computer.
If you do decide to use my tool for evil, such as spying on your significant other or siblings, shame on you! That is not the purpose for which I’ve intended this tool to be used. That being said, I’m sure this tool will see its fair share of abuse.
If you don’t want anyone else using my tool to spy on you, don’t ever give your Google Account password to anyone. In order to access your Google Web History, you will be prompted for your password even if you’re logged into your Google account. This is a good thing, because if anyone wants to see your Google History or use my tool, they would need your Google Account password.
Update: There are some additional technical details on the Google Web History RSS feed in my latest update.
When I was searching for this solution myself, I discovered that there is an RSS feed of your history that can be viewed at https://www.google.com/history/lookup?q=&output=rss&num=1000&start=1. The num parameters indicates how many records you want to view at once, and start parameter which record you want to start at.
You can download 1000 records at a time. If you wanted to manually download it, you could save the output of these links:
- … and so on … until you finally reach a page with no <item> tags in it.
Then you need to import all of the XML the files into a program to combine them into one. You can do this with the latest version of Microsoft Excel. I was initially going to go down this route. However, decided it would be worthwhile to build a tool to automatically do this since others may want the same convenience of downloading their entire Google Web History in a single CSV file.