PC Doctor May 27, 2016

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Dear PC Doctor:

I use the computers at the public library.  When I am there, I access all my stuff through my google account on Chrome.  It used to be that when I logged out, there was no trace of me on the computer.  Now, I noticed that a tiny little logo with my name is still up at the top of the screen.  How can I make sure that my account isn’t still on the public computer when I leave? 



Dear Nan:

Thank you for this important question!

A Google account is a free service, like facebook.  As they say on the internet, ‘any time you use a free online service, you are the merchandise.’  Google wants you to log in so that it can collect data about how people use the internet and show you advertisements that relate to your searches.  If you would like to know more, you can read the Google privacy policy.  If you would prefer not to participate in the data collection, you can choose to use Google search, Chrome, and other services without logging in.  However, you said you needed your account to access personal files.  So, how can you be sure your account is no longer accessible on the public computers?

First, when you are finished working, log out.  Then, with the browser window still open, look to the upper right.  Do you see a small icon of a person’s silhouette and your name, or your profile picture?  If you do, that computer has stored your account.  No one else should be able to get into it, as they do not have your password.  Still, do the following steps and you will sleep better!

Click on the account icon at the upper right of the screen.  You will get a dialog box.  Choose “Switch Person.”  A second, larger, box will open in the center of the computer screen.  The account icon will be in the middle of it.  Take the mouse and hover over it; an upside down triangle should appear.  Click that to show a pull-down menu.  Click “Remove this person.”  You will get a second box, with “Remove this person” inside a button, highlighted in red.  Click the red button.  This will remove all traces of your account from the public computer.  Phew.

Until next time,

Happy Computing!

   PC Doctor