Assuming you’re browsing you’re YouTubing while signed in with a Google account, expect that the video-sharing platform will remember every video you watch. The company uses your history to recommend videos that may interest you the most. At times, YouTube even encourages you to re-watch old clips.
However, if you want to stop YouTube from collecting and storing your activities or clean up your history, naturally, there’s a way to do it. Your search and watch histories are only stored if you’re signed in with a Google account, by the way.
How to Delete Items from Your Watch and Search Histories
YouTube’s Android app has an Incognito mode that can be used to momentarily keep it from storing history. You can also make YouTube stop collecting your watch history using the directions below. So if you’re going to watch anything you don’t want in your history, use the tips below instead.
But if you’ve already seen a video, Incognito Mode isn’t going to help, and you’ll need to delete it from your history if you don’t want to see it again.
To do this in your web browser, go to the YouTube website and click the menu button at the top left corner of the screen. In the Library sidebar, select the “History” option.
To delete an item from your watch history, click or tap “X” to the right of the item. You need to hover over the video using your mouse to see the “X” on the desktop website.
You can also click “Search History” here to see the full list of searches you’ve made on YouTube. Click the “X” to the right of the search to remove it.
You can also delete items from your watch history from the iPhone, Android, or iPad YouTube app.
To do this, locate the YouTube icon on your phone’s home screen and tap to open it.
Tap the Library button on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. The icon will look like a file folder.
On your Library screen, tap the History option.
On the History screen, look for the three vertically-stacked lines or dots in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, just to the right of the search icon, and tap them.
Tap “History controls,” then “Clear watch history” under the History and privacy header.
A pop-up will appear asking you to confirm the deletion of your YouTube watch history across all devices in which you’re signed in to your account. Tap “Clear watch history” again to complete the deletion process.
If you want to remove singular videos from your history instead of deleting the entire thing, tap the three dots next to any video’s title and tap “Remove from Watch History.”
Clear Your Entire Watch History and Search Histories
Instead of wiping individual watched videos, you can just delete your whole history of viewing from Google’s servers. Be warned: This will make YouTube’s video suggestions worse since YouTube won’t know what kind of videos you want to watch.
To do this on the YouTube website, click the menu button at the top left corner of the screen, and then click the History option. Click the “Clear All Watch History” option to the right of your viewed shows.
A dialog box would appear asking for confirmation. Select the “Clear Watch History” button to confirm your preference.
To clear your entire history in the YouTube mobile app, head to Library > History. Tap the menu button at the top of the app, and then tap the “History Settings” option.
Scroll down and tap “Clear Watch History” under History & Privacy.
You can also tap “Clear Search History” here to clear your entire YouTube search history.
Use YouTube’s Incognito Mode
If you’re about to watch some humiliating videos that you don’t want YouTube to recall later, consider using Incognito Mode on YouTube.
For now, YouTube’s Incognito Mode is recent and only available on the Android app. In the future, Google will hopefully extend this functionality to other platforms.
To activate Incognito Mode, tap your profile picture at the top right corner of the YouTube Android app, and then tap Incognito Mode on the menu screen that appears. After enabling Incognito Mode, any searches you make and videos you watch in the current session won’t be saved.
Pause YouTube History Collection
You can’t allow YouTube Incognito Mode on most platforms, but you can do something just as well: stop your YouTube history to watch something you don’t want in your history.
This setting is account-wide, meaning YouTube will stop recalling videos that you’ve watched on all your devices—iPhone, Android, iPad, website, Roku, smart TV, or anything else—assuming you’ve signed up to YouTube with your account on that platform.
To do this through the web, visit the YouTube website and click the “History” option in the sidebar. Click the “Pause Watch History” link on the right side of your YouTube watch history.
You’ll be warned that you won’t collect any history of watches once you’ve paused, which will make your suggestions worse. Click the “Pause” button to proceed.
You can also pick “Search History” here and click “Pause Search History” to stop YouTube from recalling your searches.
To do this with the iPhone, Android, or iPad YouTube app, go to Library > History. On the History tab, open the menu, and then tap the History Settings button.
Scroll down to the History & Privacy section and allow the “Pause Watch History” function.
You can also activate the “Pause Search History” option here to prevent YouTube from collecting your search history. YouTube will stop remembering videos you’ve watched, so you can watch all the weird videos you want without YouTube remembering.
When you’re done binging and want YouTube to recall your watch history again go back here and press “Turn On Watch History” or disable the “Pause Watch History” function (in the app). You will keep your history disabled for as long as you like—even indefinitely. It’s up to you.
To keep children’s videos out of your YouTube history, you should only give them the YouTube Kids app. Searches and videos in the child-friendly YouTube Kids app will not exist in your usual YouTube watch history.
Something you should keep in mind: if you’ve paused your YouTube history, your web browser will still be saving the YouTube web pages you’ve accessed in your browsing history. This doesn’t matter of course, if you’re watching YouTube in an app. Although in a browser, the browser can remember YouTube pages as every other website you’ve seen.