New Feature Supercharges Searches in Google Apps

Jan 31, 2022 | Digital Workspace, Productivity, Security Products and Services | 0 comments

Ever tried repeated searches for a specific email or file in Gmail or Drive? The results that Google returns aren’t always helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice if Google could learn from your past searches and better predict what you might want to find this time?

Google recently announced a very useful feature in how users can search for data across all their services (including Drive, Email, Calendar, Contacts, Google Pay, YouTube and all the rest).

You can now turn on Search History to access previous searches and also “train” Google in what you might be looking for next time.

Starting March 29, users will be able to go to their myactivity page and turn on “Google Workspace search history.”

In the meantime, you can still go to your myactivity page and set your “Web and App Activity” preferences.

Note that these options may not be available if your administrator has not enabled them for your company’s accounts. In that case, you may want to ask if there is a good reason for restricting this feature or could they enable it?

Want to know more? What follows is the full Google communique on this feature:

Introduction of the new Google Workspace search history control for users. Notify your users about this change, and review the Additional Google services before March 29, 2022.

Dear Administrator,

We’re writing to let you know that starting March 29, 2022, we’ll introduce changes to the Google Workspace apps search experience. These changes will give users increased control over their search data, and help clarify how that data is collected and used.

What do I need to know?

Currently there are two settings that control search data collection across Google services. When turned on, these settings can help users and admins choose to store search history from all Google apps (core Google Workspace services and additional Google services) to access previous search terms and get better search results:

  1. For Admins: the setting called Web & App Activity that appears in the Additional Google services section of the Admin console.
  2. For Users: a setting also called Web & App Activity but on the My Activity page.

Some organizations disable all Additional Google services so end users don’t have the option to turn Web & App Activity on and therefore don’t get access to recent searches in their Google Workspace apps.

Starting March 29, 2022, we’ll remove the Web & App Activity setting in the Admin console and introduce a new end user setting on the My Activity page called Google Workspace search history. This means end users will be able to control the storage of their core Google Workspace services search history data after March 29, 2022.

What does this mean for my organization?

Users who have Google Workspace search history enabled —and perform searches in Google Workspace apps like Gmail and Drive— will see their search history shown as suggestions before or as they type their searches in these products. These apps will show a message letting users know that search history is enabled.

Google Stored Search History

In addition to the new Google Workspace search history setting, the end user Web & App Activity setting will continue to exist. However, Web & App Activity will control storage of search data from Additional Google services only, and will remain disabled by default for new users.

Important details about the new search history setting

  • The new Google Workspace search history setting will be on by default but all users will have the option to turn it off.
  • Users will be able to set control how long their Google Workspace search history is stored.
  • Users will have any existing data retention settings in Web & App Activity applied to Google Workspace search history. The default time period for the data retention setting is 18 months.
  • Any users marked under the age of 18 by their admin that have controlled access to Google services by age, will have Web & App Activity disabled from their account and will be unable to turn it on.

Any searches done in Workspace apps before March 29, 2022 will be available in the user’s Google Workspace search history if both end user and admin Web & App Activity settings are enabled when this changes goes into effect.

Users with Google Workspace search history enabled will also be able to see and delete their search data, and to opt out of collecting this data altogether.

Note: Google Workspace does not use Customer Data for advertising purposes.

What do I need to do?

You should notify your users about the new Google Workspace search history control which will be automatically available to all of your users starting March 29, 2022. You can also review any Additional Google services outside of Google Workspace if you’re concerned about your search and activity data being collected, and consider restricting access to these services by turning a service on or off for Google Workspace users, or using groups to customize service access.


See our FAQs for more details.

We’re here to help

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Google Workspace support.
When you call or submit your support case, reference issue number 183616621.

Thanks for choosing Google Workspace.

— The Google Workspace Team

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