How to clear and disable the YouTube Watch and Search history

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 1, 2019
Music and Video, Youtube

The video streaming site YouTube keeps track of your activity on the site. If you are signed in to an account, it keeps a record of all videos that you watched, all your searches, all comments, and community activity including live chat and makes these available to you.

The site uses the activity records for several purposes including its recommendation system; Google may use the activity to improve other Google products as well as it notes on the activity management page on YouTube. If you watch a lot of football, travel, or food videos, YouTube will recommend these videos more so than other video types to you when you visit the site.

Recommendations are not everyone's cup of tea on YouTube as the site may -- and usually does -- recommend inappropriate content or content that is of no interest. We have showed you how to remove individual channel recommendations on YouTube, how to block recommended videos on YouTube, and how to block endscreen video recommendations on the site in the past.

Apart from visiting the site without signing in to a YouTube or Google account, you may influence recommendations by deleting individual searches or watched videos, clearing the watch history or search history, or by pausing the activity trackers on the site.

Checking your YouTube history

youtube watch history

Note that you can only check the history if you are signed in to an account on YouTube. Visit the following pages on YouTube to check the account history:

YouTube may change the URLs; to get there manually click on the menu icon in the top left corner and select the history item from the menu.

The Watch history provides a chronological view of all watched videos. Videos are displayed with their cover thumbnail and a play indicator.

You may delete individual videos by hovering over them with the mouse and selecting the x-icon next to the video thumbnail. The page lists options to clear the entire watch history and to pause the watch history.

Clearing resets the recommendation engine on YouTube and new recommendations will be based on your viewing activity from that point forward. You may also pause the watch history which prevents YouTube from recording it in first place.

While that won't prevent you from getting any recommendations, Google does note that you "may see fewer recommendations" across Google products. Note that pausing won't remove the previous watching history.

search history youtube

The Search history page uses the same layout for the most part. YouTube displays previous searches conducted on the site and you may delete individual searches right then and there.

A click on "clear all search history" removes the entire history of searches. You may also pause the recording of searches with a click on "pause search history". Note that doing the latter won't remove the search activity that is already on record on the site.

YouTube provides activity lists for comments, activity on community posts, and live chat as well. You may get options to edit and/or delete these but there is no option to pause the recording as it requires active user input to leave these.

Closing Words

YouTube users who like to stay signed in, e.g. to manage subscriptions, may delete records of individual videos that they watched and searches that they did on the site. Some may prefer to disable the recording of the activity entirely to reduce the number of recommendations on the site.

Now You: what is your take on the quality of recommendations on YouTube?

How to clear and disable the YouTube Watch and Search history
Article Name
How to clear and disable the YouTube Watch and Search history
Find out how to manage, clear, or disable the watched video and search activity on the video hosting site YouTube.
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  1. ULBoom said on October 2, 2019 at 5:31 am

    What’s recommended is a disappointing commentary on the mainstream, that is if it’s at all accurate.

    There’s been a tease for a cat video (cat videos, still???!!!!) with a cat that has eyes the size of tennis balls up for weeks. TV is supposedly geared for 5th graders; You Tube seems to court toddlers!

    There are some excellent channels but they’re soooo hard to find.

  2. John G. said on October 2, 2019 at 12:35 am

    More important than this useful article is the fact that W10 1903 has low sound. My cousin is unable to get the correct sound level. We both have surfed and find this article however we are not able to solve this weird issue. Please @Martin, any article on this issue perhaps in the future? :/

  3. Richard Steven Hack said on October 1, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    “…the site may — and usually does — recommend inappropriate content or content that is of no interest.”

    Boy, is that right! Whoever did their algorithms has done a crap-tastic job of it.

    I am interested primarily in firearms, martial arts and hacking. I’ve watched tons of stuff in those subjects. And in English. Youtube will show me all kinds of garbage as “recommended for you” as well as just filling up the page with stuff I’ve never shown an interest in.

    They also tend to show me stuff in languages which I have never shown an interest in – except accidentally by clicking on a video I didn’t know was in a given language.

    They also tend to show me tons of stuff after I’ve watched just one video of a subject, to the detriment of my main interests.

    If I reload the page a number of times to try to see other things, or I click “Not Interested” (and frequently why) on every item shown to me, then Youtube starts reducing the number of videos shown until there’s only a few lines of them. It’s like, “OK, we don’t know what you want, so piss off, loser.”

    Oh, and please stop showing me stuff from five to ten years ago – I’m more interested in current stuff. I’ll use the search or looked up specific channels if I want to see ancient stuff.

    Getting to the point where I’m just going to use the Search and channels I’ve already saved for later viewing because their recommendations are next to useless.

  4. chesscanoe said on October 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for this tip; now I know 569936821221962380720³ + (-569936821113563493509)³ + (-472715493453327032)³ = 3 . This is only the third solution known for an an answer of 3. The first two solutions are easy. :-)

  5. Tom Hawack said on October 1, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    I dislike algorithmic recommendations. YouTube is a monument given you’ll find practically any video or audio. But I don’t use it, directly that is and, should I, cookies are blocked. At first I’d block ’em cookies because I just couldn’t stand recommendations based on what I had view previously. Hate it.

    I use a front-end to search/view/listen to YouTube videos, and it’s called Invidious.
    Invidious’ development :
    Invidious instances (sites) list :

    I use a very nice script to redirect embedded YouTube links to an Invidious instance :
    ‘Youtube to Invidious’ at

    This script redirects except if you’re on YouTube or on an Invidious instance (given Invidious instances include a link to view the video on YouTube).

    Fast, no tracking, no fuss, lite. Private.

    1. Anonymous said on October 3, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Even simpler than a user script to redirect Youtube to Invidious automatically with no connection to Youtube by default (and it redirects even if you clicked a Youtube link, not only embeds): the Invidition extension,

      1. Tom Hawack said on October 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm

        @Anonymous, I’ve first had the Invidition extension you mention (the previous version, it’s been recently updated), then tried the ‘Youtube to Invidious’ userscript I mention above which appeared to me superior. After my above comment I noticed that the Invidition extension had been updated, tried it and this time, IMO, it surpasses the userscript : it’s very well done, a major update IMO. So I stick now with Invidition, the extension.

        Good thing you mentioned it, I was sort of lazy to come back here and deploy the results of my fabulous computing experiences :=)

  6. Shason said on October 1, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    You can try clearing cookis of youtube from you signin account on youtube. Y

  7. Martin Brinkmann said on October 1, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    I agree, it is definitely not great and it clearly favors the mainstream.

  8. Paul(us) said on October 1, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    The most friendly comment I can give about the YouTube recommendations is:
    That it’s the absolute mainstream of the mainstream those recommendations and sometimes a link of somebody who has paid a lot of money.
    Its a selection of what the algorithms think people who click on so that the chair holders will make as much money as possible.

    Even when I am logged in and I have clicked away what I don’t like after Google asked me to let them now what subjects, I do not like. They only thing Google is presenting is not an algorithm choice from what I let them no, but more commercial choices in the categories who are left, who are only good for the wallet of the chair holders.

    1. Peter said on October 1, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      Worse is that even the Search algorithms are impacted, both those of YT and parent google. YMMV depending on location.

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