How To Find the Creation Date of your Gmail or Google Account
Most Google Account owners would be amazed at just how much the company knows about each of us. You can find some of it out either for curiosity value or to delete as much of it as you can. One of the key things you can find out is the creation date of your Google Account.
Why is it important? If you get locked out of your Google Account, the date you created it is one of the recovery questions you may get asked. There are other questions of course and other recovery methods but having an idea of when you first set your foot on Google territory is also useful to know anyway.
Find the creation date of your Google Account
As a legacy of when Google was mainly operating search and Gmail, it is from within Gmail that you can find out when you created your Google account. As creating a Gmail account automatically creates your overall Google account which has gradually spread in scope since its release, the start date of your Gmail account is the same as your Google Account.
Do this to see the creation date of your Google Account:
- Open Gmail and select the cog icon to access Gmail Settings.
- Select Forwarding and POP/IMAP.
- Look at the POP Download section and the first line, Status: Pop is enabled for all mail that has arrived since…
The date on that line is the date you created your Google Account. In my case it was 01/30/2008, so almost 11 years ago.
How to find out what Google knows about you
We will never know exactly what data Google collects as it collects so much from so many sources. From search, our Google accounts, Android if you use it, even your Gboard phone keyboard. It all reports back to one degree or another. You can see some of what is held on you though, which might make sobering reading.
You will need to log into your Google Account page to see what data is stored. Then check some of these things. The main section we are interested in is Personal Info & Privacy. It is here that much of the data is stored.
- Check Your Personal Info to see your name, age, phone number, birthday, gender, location and Search settings.
- Select Contacts to see everyone you have ever emailed through Gmail and all your phone contacts if you use Android.
- Scroll down to Activity controls to take you to the next screen where you can see every Google search you ever made and every location Google Maps ever logged you visiting.
- Scroll down further to see every YouTube video you have ever watched if you dare.
- Go back to Personal Info and scroll down to Ad Settings. Here is where things get scary. Scroll to How your ads are personalized to see the outline of the personal profile Google has created for you.
If you want to download a mini dossier of what data Google holds on you, it is possible. Go back to Personal Info and scroll down to Download or transfer your content. Select Create Archive, make your choices as to what data you want to download and then create the download archive.
Control what data Google keeps about you
Now you’re well and truly shocked at just how much Google knows about you, it’s time to exercise a little control over it. You cannot turn off all data collection. After all, if a product is free, you are the product. Google only offers so much free stuff because it can make money from what we do with it. However, we can turn off elements of data collection.
The only way to completely stop Google collecting data is to stop using Google products, including Android and Google Search. Otherwise, here are a few settings to tweak:
- Navigate to the Google My Activity page.
- Select the three dot menu icon in the top right and select Activity Controls.
- Toggle off Web & App Activity and uncheck the box by Include Chrome history and activity that use Google Services.
- Scroll down and toggle off Location History.
- Select Manage Activity and delete all records of your location.
- Navigate back to Activity controls.
- Select Device Information and toggle it off and select Manage Activity to delete records.
- Select Voice & Audio Activity and toggle it off, select Manage Activity to delete records.
- Select YouTube Search History and toggle it off, select Manage Activity to delete records.
- Select YouTube Watch History and toggle it off, select Manage Activity to delete records.
- Select the Ads text link at the very bottom of the page. Toggle Ad Personalization to off.
There are a few other deeper settings you can tweak but I’ll leave those for a more detailed tutorial about Google Privacy. It’s important to know that Google isn’t the only company that collects data and that it doesn’t use it for nefarious means as far as we know. At least you now know more about what the company knows about you.