De-Google Yourself Without Cutting Cold Turkey

UPDATED ON APR 27, 2023 : 884 words, 5 minute read — PRIVACY & SECURITY

With digital privacy, it can feel like you have to become a hardcore privacy advocate using only the most secure open source tools, otherwise why bother? I had this impression for a while, but the reality is it’s okay to land somewhere in the middle. Strike your own personal balance between the convenience of intrusive apps and privacy. Don’t say no to reducing your digital footprint just because you aren’t going to wipe it away completely.

A quick reminder of why 🔗︎

If you’re reading this, you at least have some interest in reducing the amount of your information that is spilling out into the world for anyone to use. As a reminder, here’s a list & infographic of all the detailed information Google is able to collect or infer about you. If you want to explore your personalized results, this article has direct links to a number of Google settings pages that show you Ad Personalization and the like. Facebook and plenty of other companies do the same.

How to De-Google 🔗︎

Begin the process by finding and setting up alternatives to the Google products you use in your life. Picking on Google for now because they have so many products touching many aspects of life, but they are not the only one worth ditching. Don’t worry about swapping over to alternatives completely yet, just get over the hump of having them around and seeing how they work. If you choose to transition gradually, one service at a time, you’re more likely to stick with it. The best part about this approach is you can try multiple options in each category since you aren’t switching over cold turkey. Continue using your Google services while you test different options, then once you feel comfortable with one take the plunge.

Google Alternatives 🔗︎

Important points to remember when looking for alternatives: If you’re not paying for it, in some way you are the product. With search engines, they are able to still make money off of advertisements & other information that isn’t tied to you, but for many other services think twice about choosing a “free” service. Some alternatives I mention are Apple, Microsoft, or similar, which could get me flack from more hardcore privacy advocates since they’re still big tech. I personally consider it a good first step to have data across multiple companies rather than under one roof. It’s definitely not the best setup, but remember, it’s a personal balance between convenience and privacy. The average person doesn’t want to go hardcore quitting social media, using Linux & running LineageOS. Meet people where they are, not where you think they should be, and help privacy become mainstream.

  • Google Search - Start by changing your default search engine, popular options are Duck Duck Go and Ecosia . DDG has the option !g <keyword> if you want to move your search to Google anyway, easing the transition.
  • Google Chrome - Firefox, Brave, and Opera I’ve found work well. At the end of the day, they all do pretty much the same thing.
  • Gmail - Find a different email provider. You can use a different free one, such as Outlook, or pay a couple bucks a month for a privacy-respecting provider. I pay $14/year for Tutanota , but there are lots of other options .
  • Calendar - Many, many options for open source or privacy friendly calendars, I won’t try and pick any favorites.
  • Google Maps - Apple Maps is the obvious alternative for you iPhone users, for Android phones there’s Transit and . I’ll be honest, this has been the hardest one to quit because with so much data from so many people, the service is incredibly convenient compared to alternatives.
  • Messaging - Signal - my favorite because it’s run by a non-profit, Telegram , Threema . These can do video calls as well.
  • Duo/Google Meet - some chat apps do video meetings, can also use Facetime, Zoom, Slack calls, Skype still exists, .
  • Drive - Store your files files in iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, or any of the bazillion other alternatives.
  • Docs - Your use case will vary on how difficult it is to stop using this. I’ve switched to tools like Notion & Obsidian since I mainly used it for note taking and personal documents, but if you rely on the fancy features of it’s editors you may need to look into other alternatives listed below.
  • YouTube - not much you can do on this one, the content is where the content is BUT there is an up and coming decentralized platform focused on creators called , getting some bigger name YouTubers to add their content to it’s platform. Seems like a good step.

Going Deeper 🔗︎

⭐ Did i add this link in yet ?

Whether you plan to become the most hardcore privacy expert or just want to start making small adjustments to your repertoire of apps, best of luck on your journey. Don’t be texting my phone ’less you hit me on Signal 🔥.

See Also