My personal checklist and research to de-google my stuff.

Updated: Jan 19, 2020.


  • The Cambridge Analytica revelations (blog post)
  • The Purism Librem 5 phone is on my watch list. If released, it will be a GNU/Linux phone (not Android) so might as well prepare to leave the Android ecosystem while I wait. (I ended up getting the Pinephone.)

Main things that were keeping me on the stock Google Pixel 3 Android OS:

  • Google Fi as cell carrier, and potential loss of features running an open source Android like LineageOS (mainly, ability to switch towers between T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular at will; WiFi Assistant I can care less about).
  • Unlimited photo storage with Google Photos for a couple years with the Pixel phone purchase. But if I self-host my own photo cloud this is really a moot point.

Progress & Replacements

Google Photos, Drive, Contacts & Calendars

I set up a personal Nextcloud server that runs on my old desktop PC at home. Nextcloud provides sync for your contacts, calendars, and files and gives the most bang for your buck in taking back some privacy from Google.

I downloaded all my Google data with Takeout and imported it into Nextcloud. New camera pictures are automatically backed up to my Nextcloud instance.

Gmail and Google Search

My domain used to be hosted on Gmail, and self-hosting e-mail is a lot of work, so I rent email hosting with a third-party (Rackspace) that has no incentive to read my emails. My old account is just an e-mail inbox and can be added to any standard email app.

DuckDuckGo replaces Google Search. It generally works well enough, but if I don't find good results I append "!g" to my search and it takes me to Google, but still most of my searches do not go to Google.

Google Maps

OsmAnd+ from F-Droid is a decent Maps alternative for de-googled phones. On the mobile GNU/Linux front, it's a bit rough but workable.


YouTube Vanced is an alternative YouTube app for Android and can work on a de-googled phone. It's blocks ads and can play videos in the background and seems to support signing in with a Google account via microG.

On mobile Linux, works okay in Firefox on Pinephone but videos in general aren't hardware-optimized yet.


  • Experiment first with old Pixel on LineageOS without Google Play Services nor microG. Install microG only as a last resort to test the crucial apps that didn't work otherwise.
  • Leave Google Fi for a normal carrier (T-Mobile or Sprint)
  • Install/configure a home server to provide crucial services:
    • Nextcloud for Contacts, Calendar, Camera Backup and File/Photo Storage
    • Personal OpenVPN Server
  • Install LineageOS on primary Android phone I can't do without Chromecast support for Netflix/Hulu, so second best option is to remove Google accounts from my phone but keep the Google Play Services for Chromecast support.
    • Change 2FA methods to TOTP app instead of Google push notification.
    • Google Voice: forward text messages to email.
    • Add Gmail address to a standard email app (Librem Mail on F-Droid)
    • Chromecast from apps still works fine.
    • Google Home app can still manage Chromecasts on the local network w/o account.
    • Google WiFi: requires a Google account to manage the WiFi routers. For this I installed Android-x86 in VirtualBox on my laptop, if I need to manage my WiFi I can boot that up and use the app.
  • Migrate out of Google's ecosystem
    • Download latest export from Google Takeout
    • Upload contacts to Nextcloud server
    • Purge all photos from Google Photos (move all photos to Nextcloud)
    • Clear out my Google Drive of all files (move important ones to Nextcloud)
    • Clear all data from Google Assistant and other places
    • Opt-out of all data services and ad personalization from Google.
    • Move email from Google to an external provider
    • Migrate accounts linked to my Gmail address to address
    • Wind down usage of Gmail account (unsubscribe from any mailing lists, get down to Inbox Zero where only Google themselves will ever send me mail to my Gmail account)

How deep was I?

Google's web services are easy enough to replace, but I also have several Chromecast dongles and a Google WiFi mesh router that I wanted to keep working.

There aren't any good (free, private) alternatives to the Chromecast that don't just replace Google with a different corporation that collects your data. A raspberry pi or old-fashioned "TV PC" is a step backward in usability.

Phase 1: Sign out of Google apps

My current main phone was a Google Pixel 3 running the stock Android OS complete with Play Services and Chromecast-able apps like Netflix and Hulu. But I decided I could at least sign out of Google on this phone so whatever data they collect shouldn't be associated to a user account. This meant I couldn't use apps like YouTube or Gmail (which need you to sign in, and signing in logs your Android device as a whole in) but instead my Nextcloud instance provided Contacts & Calendars and I used alternative apps from F-Droid. For Gmail I installed a standard e-mail client app.

Phase 2: Dual wield a "googlin' phone"

Currently, my Pixel 3 is running a de-googled Android ROM (GrapheneOS) which is privacy-focused and has no Google apps or services installed. It can't Chromecast, and many Play Store apps don't function, but some of them do work well enough: Slack, Discord, Kik, Venmo, DoorDash and Zoom; just without push notifications in many cases.

I also had a dusty old Pixel 1 lying around that I had initially tested de-googled Android on. I reinstalled the stock Google Android OS and this phone is my "Chromecast controller" -- WiFi only, mostly stays at home, and runs the few apps that require Google services.

Phase 3: Free GNU/Linux phone as daily driver

The need for a Google device to control my Chromecasts isn't going away soon, but I may be able to replace the de-googled Android with a Linux phone soon. I have the Pinephone and the software is getting good and it works with T-Mobile reasonably well.

  • Pinephone as main cell phone (SIM card): it has apps for KeePass, Telegram, Twitter, Reddit, Mastodon, Matrix, supports Nextcloud to sync contacts and calendar.
  • Pixel 3 becomes the new "Chromecast controller" and is reflashed with a stock Google ROM, for the few apps that still bind me to Google. Slack, Venmo and some that have NO alternative on Pinephine.
  • Pixel 1 phone gets retired.

Google-free Android

See Self Hosting for my experiments running LineageOS without Google Services and the options for self-hosting crucial web services.

App Compatibility w/o Play Services

Without Google Play Services some apps won't function correctly. I need to make sure the apps that are important to me work or have workable solutions.

See also: my App Compatibility Table