YouTube showing "Your watch history is off" instead of videos

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 9, 2023
Updated • Aug 9, 2023

YouTube users who sign-in to a Google or YouTube account while using the video streaming site may have their watch history recorded automatically. The feature is turned on by default and YouTube does keep track of all watched videos, searches, comments and even other activity such as live chats.

The watch history is being used by YouTube to power the site's recommendation engine and for other purposes. The main idea is the following one: if you watch lots of football or cat videos, you get lots of videos that YouTube considers similar in your home feed and other sections of the site.

While that sounds useful, recommendations do not work well for some users. There may be inappropriate videos in the feed and some users prefer to disable recommendations to limit Google's access to personal data.

Today, YouTube announced a change that is coming for users of the site who have turned off the watch history on YouTube. Rolling out over the next few months, Google is going to disable sections of the site that it says require the watch history to power video recommendations.

youtube watch history

Users get a "your watch history is off" notification on YouTube in those sections on the site instead of a list of video recommendations. There is a link to update the settings, and a search field to find videos using search.

When the watch history is turned off, YouTube is using other signals, including a user's location, likes and dislikes, to fill the list of video recommendations.

source Reddit

YouTube community manager Hazel mentions the Home feed on the site as the sole example of such a section. She writes: "Starting today, if you have YouTube watch history off and have no significant prior watch history, features that require watch history to provide video recommendations will be disabled – like your YouTube home feed. This means that starting today, your home feed may look a lot different: you’ll be able to see the search bar and the left-hand guide menu, with no feed of recommended videos thus allowing you to more easily search, browse subscribed channels and explore Topic tabs instead."

It needs to be clear that this change affects YouTube users who are signed-in to the site and have the YouTube watch history turned off. Also, it applies only if there is no prior watch history, which could be the case if the watch history was turned off, but the history was not deleted.

YouTube claims that it wants to make it clearer that the site's video recommendations feature relies on the watch history. The notification that the site displays might encourage some users to turn on the watch history to get recommendations again.

Google users may change the Watch History feature on YouTube, and other history features, on the Activity Controls website of the company.

Closing Words

Is the change an attempt to get more users to turn on the watch history on YouTube? It remains to be seen how this evolves in the coming months as more and more users on the site are hit with the change.

Now You: how do you use YouTube?

YouTube showing "Your watch history is off" instead of videos
Article Name
YouTube showing "Your watch history is off" instead of videos
YouTube is showing a "your watch history is off" notification to users instead of video recommendations on the site for some users.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Td..*** said on January 27, 2024 at 10:45 pm

    Turn on watch history. I don’t. They shut down my shorts button. Still saying turn on your watch history. I’m not a customer to them. I am an individual to be manipulated. I don’t suppose this has anything to do with gov telling social media they want info on everyone and what they’re watching.

  2. WibblyWobbly said on January 9, 2024 at 1:46 pm

    YouTube is a bizarre business model that seems to try its hardest to sabotage its product with rubbish ad interruptions. Now even more self sabotage by hiding content. With history on I was getting irrelevant ads so turned it off for several years. Certainly not turning it on just to get suggestions that are just as irrelevant as the ads.

  3. sidknee said on December 9, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    You must pay to watch add free – £13 a month, crazy price
    You must record your history – so YT can send you more stupid videos you watched only once.
    You must have a Google Account
    You must – do as Google tells you.

    Creators, have you seen an increase in revenue since these new rules were introduced?
    I thought not!
    Creators if you are sponsored, do you really want revenue from adverts (that are often not related to your video) as well?

  4. harry said on November 26, 2023 at 2:05 pm

    my watch history has been off for years, and it has NEVER been an issue – until now. WHY, youtube? WHY?
    but yeah, youtube keeps making the user experience worse and worse and worse, and that’s why i REFUSE to throw any money their way. that means no superchats, no paid-for services, no premium, no nothing.

    oh, and let’s not forget that they keep censoring me for no reason whatsoever, and that a couple of years ago they simply deleted my whole account. poof, gone. again, for no reason whatsoever.

  5. WCATFN said on August 10, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    Viewers will logout to see a feed of suggested/popular videos, they will not be able to ‘Like’ or comment.
    Creators will lose Likes and Interaction in the comments, and therefore income (Yeay YT saves money!)
    OR people will stay logged in an NOT watch popular vids, only subscribed ones – Creators lose views and income (Yeay YT Saves Money!)
    I am not concerned about YT knowing what I watch, I am concerned that one day soon my account will be hacked and the history might be used to create false conclusions and a political ‘frame’ which will be used against me by nefarious actors.
    I already provide YT with ‘Likes’ and subscriptions to indicate that a creator has done a good job.

    1. Mat G said on August 12, 2023 at 4:33 am

      ‘Likes’? The ‘like’ button doesn’t exist. I only click the ‘dislike’ button on videos, these days, ever since the incompetent, * at Google’s YouTube decided to remove the numbers of ‘dislikes’ from public view. If ‘dislikes’ are only to be seen by uploaders, then I make sure they see them by clicking that button on every video I watch. From their blatantly fascist censorship practices, to their neglect of building a user friendly interface, Google and YouTube deserve every bit of criticism, and pain (getting shot up in 2017) they’ve experienced.

  6. VioletMoon said on August 9, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    I use a few YT videos for educational purposes–learning some skill, for instance. I rarely, if ever, sign in to YT.

    Amazon Prime–another example–provides my watch history, a history that I can turn off/delete; however, having the watch history available has proved remarkably beneficial for me. Even my orders over the years.

    Gosh! People actually sign in to YT to watch a video?

    Am I supposed to? The site has never asked me to.


    1. Mat G said on August 12, 2023 at 4:34 am

      Anybody who pays for Google, or Amazon, deserves to have the stupid shaken out of them.

    2. bruh said on August 9, 2023 at 6:24 pm

      Why “puzzled”?

      Have you ever wanted to post a comment or ask a question under a video?

      What is puzzling here…?

      1. VioletMoon said on August 10, 2023 at 5:02 pm

        @bruh–That’s sort of the thing–what puzzles me.

        I’ve made comments under a video, so I must have logged in; however, I’ve never encountered any issues with a watch history, and I don’t remain logged in.

        I guess I could go check it, but I find a “watch history” a great tool–privacy issues may be disconcerting for some. I don’t find Google to be that intrusive. The Ostrich mentality? Perhaps.

        In other words, YT has never been an “in your face” site where I absolutely had to “disable recommendations” based on a few videos; and it’s certainly not a site where I sense I better log in to delete my watch history.

        Others obviously have issue with YouTube.

  7. TelV said on August 9, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    I never login to youtube even though I do watch videos from time to time so it’s highly unlikely that the site will bombard me with anything since they don’t know who I am. Also, I’m always logged into a VPN including when I’ve logged into YT.

    As for the ‘recommended’ videos I suspect that those are the ones which contain the most ads and should be avoided at all costs for that reason alone.

  8. 🖋 said on August 9, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Martin, “Google users ma[y] change the Watch History …”.

  9. Naj4 said on August 9, 2023 at 8:20 am

    Isn’t it what all users mainly going through the YT website do? (not counting the animals gargling with tons of “shorts”)

  10. Service Pack said on August 9, 2023 at 7:06 am

    Stupid decision just to force users to enable watch history…

    1. Mat G said on August 12, 2023 at 4:36 am

      I won’t enable watch history, and I won’t buy any of the ‘services’ provided by the incompetent, * at Google.

  11. Snowbound said on August 9, 2023 at 6:54 am

    I never use the Home tab on YT. I always go to my Subscriptions tab and watch videos from the subscribed channels.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.