How to clear your YouTube history – a guide for all device types

YouTube uses cookies to track user behaviour and search histories, among other things. While this makes for a better, faster user experience and enables YouTube to recommend videos based on your taste, a YouTube history is a private asset that you won’t want to share with third-parties or Google.

Tip

What’s the YouTube history good for anyway? Your YouTube search history is a mirror of your search and video viewing behaviour. It serves a very basic function, which is to optimise the YouTube user experience. Thanks to the collected data, YouTube can respond to users' interests and recommend related videos.

To minimise the amount of data YouTube collects about you, you can delete your YouTube search history regularly. The following guide reveals how this is done in the browser or in the Android and iOS mobile app.

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Clear YouTube search history – quick guide for browser and app

Here’s how to clear your search history from a browser:

  1. Sign into your account on the YouTube website.
  2. Click ‘History’ in the left sidebar.
  3. Delete your current history on YouTube under ‘Clear all watch history’ .
  4. To delete only the search history for a certain period, go to ‘Manage all history’ .
  5. Open Delete activity by’  and set the time period to be deleted.
Note

Select Set up automatic deletions’  if you want YouTube to delete your history automatically at intervals that suit your needs.

Here’s how to clear your search history in-app (Android/iOS)

  1. Open the YouTube app and click on your profile picture.
  2. Select Settings’ .
  3. Tap History & Privacy’ 
  4. Clear your history with ‘Clear watch history’ .

How to clear your YouTube history: step by step

In the following sections, you’ll find more detailed descriptions to clean up your YouTube history in browsers or using the YouTube app.

Delete YouTube search history in a browser

Step 1: Sign into YouTube

Sign into your YouTube user account.

Step 2: Call history

Select the ‘History’ option in the left sidebar (under the three-dash icon) to access your YouTube playback history.

Step 3: Delete all YouTube history

Now delete your entire YouTube history via ‘Clear all watch history’. Skip this step if you only want to delete the history for a certain period of time.

Step 4: Open history settings

To delete select search periods or adjust the general settings for YouTube’s history behaviour, go to ‘Manage all history’.

Step 5: ‘Delete activity by’

To delete your playback and search history for specific time periods, go to ‘Delete activity by’.

Step 6: Set the period to be deleted

Now, set the time period of the YouTube history you want to delete. Again, you can select the entire period, but shorter periods such as ‘Last hour’ or ‘Last day’ are also possible.

Step 7: Enable automatic deletion

To automatically delete your YouTube history at regular intervals, select ‘Set up automatic deletions’ in the ‘Delete YouTube Activity’ section.

Select whether Google should automatically delete your activities after 3, 18, or 36 months and confirm your selection via ‘Next’.

Note

Find out how to not only clear your YouTube history, but how to delete your entire YouTube channel.

How to delete a YouTube history in-app (iOS/Android)

Step 1: Launch YouTube app and tap profile picture

Launch the YouTube app on your smartphone or tablet and sign into your account, if you haven't already. Open the user profile settings by pressing your profile picture.

Step 2: Open settings

Tap the ‘Settings’ item in the menu.

Step 3: Open ‘History & privacy’ options

In the next menu window, select the ‘History & privacy’ option.

Step 4: Delete YouTube search history and playback history

Now, delete your entire YouTube history by tapping ‘Clear watch history’ and ‘Clear search history’ one by one.

Pause YouTube history

Want to prevent YouTube from analysing and storing your user behaviour? You can pause watch history permanently by selecting the corresponding option. You’ll find the corresponding option in in ‘History & privacy’ in the app and ‘History’ in the browser.

Note

YouTube isn’t the only channel where you should regularly clear your history. Popular YouTube alternatives like Twitch, Vimeo, TikTok, and Dailymotion also store user behaviour data, which should be deleted on a regular basis.

YouTube: Permanently deactivate history – here’s how

To permanently disable your YouTube history, go to ‘History’ in the left sidebar and ‘Saving activity’ in the history menu.

Flip the blue switch to permanently disable YouTube history. You can switch the option back on at any time.


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