When you’re signed in to your Google account, YouTube remembers every single video you watch. YouTube uses this history to recommend new videos to you. This is good in theory, as YouTube can tailor its recommendations based on stuff it thinks you might like.
That being said, there are situations when you may not want YouTube knowing about every single video you watch. For example, watching a handful of cat videos can flood your suggestion page with endless cute animal clips. We admit that for some, this isn’t a bad thing.
However, for those of you who don’t want to let one embarrassing video alter your YouTube experience, you’re in luck. Google is now letting YouTube users keep their viewing activity on the platform a secret.
What Is Incognito Mode and What Does It Do?
Google recently unveiled an Incognito mode for YouTube similar to that of their Chrome web browser. By enabling this feature, you can hide your activity from YouTube and the overlords over at Google. Finally, we’ll be able to watch all of our guilty pleasures without fear of judgment! In addition, there is an added bonus for those of you with security concerns.
As we mentioned before, YouTube keeps tabs on all of the videos you watch on the platform. This serves two functions: to suggest other videos you may like and data collection.
YouTube collects information on the videos you watch in order to deliver targeted ads to users. If this sort of data collection creeps you out, enabling Incognito mode will prevent this from happening and reclaim some privacy.
How to Enable Incognito Mode
Currently, YouTube’s Incognito mode is only available on Android devices. Unfortunately, there is no word as to when, or even if, the feature will be rolled out to other devices. Furthermore, be aware that even though you’re preventing YouTube from collecting your search and viewing history, your school or employer may still be able to see what you’re doing, provided you’re connected to their network.
To turn on Incognito mode, fire up the YouTube app and tap on your circular profile icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen. This will open the account management screen. Locate the option that reads “Turn on Incognito.” Simply tap it to enable Incognito mode. Once you enable Incognito mode, a message will pop up on your screen detailing what it is and what it does.
Basically, with Incognito mode turned on, YouTube won’t remember any of the videos that you watch. Therefore, videos you watch in Incognito mode won’t have an influence on the videos that are suggested to you.
To turn Incognito mode off, simply follow the exact same steps.
What to Do If You Don’t See the Incognito Option
If you don’t see the Incognito option, make sure you have the latest version of YouTube installed on your device. To do so, open the Play Store app and tap on the three stacked lines in the top-left corner of the screen.
A menu will slide out, at which point you want to tap on “My apps & games.” From there you can either tap on the “UPDATE ALL” button to download and install pending updates for all your apps, or scroll down until you find the YouTube app, and tap on the “UPDATE” button next to it.
What to Do If You Don’t Use Android
If you’re not using Android, it doesn’t mean you can’t hide your activity from prying eyes. Luckily, iOS users can pause YouTube history collection which will prevent YouTube from monitoring and logging your activity on the platform.
To pause your YouTube history from being collected, open the mobile app on your iOS device and tap on the circular account icon. From there, select “Privacy -> Pause search history.” This will prevent YouTube from keeping tabs on what videos you’re searching for within the app. Just be aware that you’ll need to reverse this action if you’d like your viewing habits to influence your account again.
Furthermore, if you would like to clear your search history completely, click on your account icon and select “Privacy -> Clear search history.”
If you primarily watch YouTube through your web browser, you can still prevent YouTube from spying on you. Simply open an Incognito or Private window in the browser of your choice, and navigate to YouTube.com. Even if you’re signed in to your account, accessing YouTube from a Private/Incognito window will force YouTube to treat you like a random stranger.
Are you concerned about Google spying on your viewing habits when watching YouTube? What do you do to prevent unwanted data collection? Let us know in the comments!