YouTube watching you
When you sign into YouTube with your Google account, YouTube keeps a record of every single video you watch on the site. From music to comedies, YouTube stores your favorites. This allows the site to recommend new videos based on your tastes. But YouTube is a part of Google, raising questions about who can access that information. If you are looking to clear up your search history, clearing your YouTube video history is a good place to start.
How to clear YouTube watch history - basic steps
Here, in a nutshell, are the basic steps to clearing your YouTube watch history.
- Head to YouTube and once you’re logged in, click on the three bars in the upper left-hand corner. That will take you to the YouTube menu.
- Select “History”.
- Once you are on the “History” page, you can either delete individual videos or your entire watch history.
How to clear YouTube history - advanced options
Clearing your YouTube watch history AND search history will remove all the recommendation videos that appear on your YouTube homepage. It will not remove your favorited videos or video channels you subscribe to.
If you want to do a more thorough sweep of your YouTube search history, make sure you clear your history in both the mobile app and on your desktop computer.
Clearing search history in the YouTube app
If you are looking to clear your search history on either your Android or iPhone, you simply need to log into the app.
Hit the “Library” icon. Select History Settings > Clear Search history. You can also clear your entire watch history here by selecting that option too.
Clearing YouTube search history on your computer
If you are looking to delete your entire YouTube watch and search history on your laptop or desktop, select Menu > History > Clear all Watch History. Then click “Clear all Search History”.
Using Incognito Mode
In the future, you can avoid having to delete your YouTube history of embarrassing videos by watching videos in Incognito mode if you have an Android phone. To select this, from the YouTube app, choose your Account > Menu > Turn on Incognito.
If you don’t have an Android or you are using your desktop browser, there’s no shortcut for Incognito mode. But you can pause your watch history instead. On your desktop select History > Pause Watch History > Pause. You can also pause your search history by selecting History > Pause Search History > Pause.
On your iPhone select Library > History and toggle either the “Pause Watch History” and/or the “Pause Search History” options.
Advanced options: the “Your Data in YouTube” menu
If you are logged in to YouTube, you can click on your profile picture to pull up a menu. Towards the bottom of that menu will be an option entitled “Your Data in YouTube.”
Selecting that option will open a new screen, and from there you will have a number of options to control what information YouTube tracks. Among those are:
Manage your YouTube Watch History
From here, you can tell YouTube to remember your searches or not - or set it up to automatically delete at regular intervals.
Manage your YouTube Search History
Selecting this option gives you the same choices as above - enabling an auto-delete or turning off YouTube search tracking altogether.
Scrolling further down the “Your Data in YouTube” also lets you make some Google-wide data choices, such as toggling your location history on and off, and controlling your ad settings. If you are uncomfortable with how much information Google tracks, consider switching to a browser like Brave, which automatically blocks YouTube pre-roll ads.
If you regularly use YouTube and you care about your privacy settings, it’s worth taking some time to familiarize yourself with the “Your Data in YouTube” options.
Looking for a better option altogether? Consider using Brave. Brave pushes back against the surveillance economy that sells your search history across the Internet. Brave blocks trackers automatically using Shields and rewards you for the ads you choose to view.
Choose Brave, and discover a better browser.