Did you know that YouTube saves information about every video that you view on the video hosting site when you are logged into your Google account and also when you are not? And that those video views are saved indefinitely by the service?
The saving of YouTube video views may be a privacy issue to some users. While you could say that logging out of your account after using the computer resolves the issue, it is not that easy. Why? Because YouTube keeps track of viewed videos even if you are not logged into a Google account or a YouTube account.
Just visit the site, make sure you are not logged in and start watching a video. Once you are finished visit the YouTube History page. You should see that video listed there along with other videos that you have watched in the past while logged out of your Google or YouTube account.
To make matters worse, there is only one option to delete the viewing history. Visit the YouTube viewing history page. Actually, you need to visit the page twice if you watch videos when you are logged in and logged out.
You can delete individual videos by selecting them first and clicking the remove button afterwards, or all videos with a click on the clear all viewing history button.
This triggers the following prompt where you have to confirm the removal.
If you are never logged into Youtube or Google when viewing videos on YouTube, you can clear the viewing history automatically by deleting all YouTube cookies regularly (for instance on shutdown of the browser). Check out How To Clear Individual Cookies In Google Chrome or Selectively Block Cookies on Internet Explorer and Firefox In Realtime).
Users who are logged into their account when they view videos need to clear the viewing history manually regularly if they are concerned about their privacy.
There is another option for users who do not need a YouTube account but want to view videos. The core issue here is that YouTube will record the history when they are logged into other Google services. One option would be to launch YouTube in private browsing mode. Chrome users could use the Ghost Incognito extension to automate that process. This would log out the user automatically when logged in, and also clear cookies and other data on exit.
Does anyone know a better way of clearing YouTube's viewing history? Let me know in the comments.
Update: YouTube has added an option on the history page for users who are signed in to their account to pause the watch history feature.
This pauses the recording of new videos, but won't delete the video history on YouTube, and also won't prevent the recording if you are not signed in to your account. But, it is an option if you do not want YouTube to record the videos that you watch and if you are signed in at all times or most of the time when you are using the video hosting website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.