How to block YouTube from tracking your activity on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Your whole online history is stored and recorded. Similar rules apply to YouTube. Every time you use the site to watch videos, the algorithm proposes related videos and tailored adverts depending on how you interacted with the content. Here’s how to stop YouTube from tracking your activities on iPhone, iPad, and Mac if you’re worried about privacy and don’t want it to collect your data.

How does YouTube track user activity

Like the majority of websites, YouTube uses website cookies to gather user information. It also features a few more technologies that monitor how you interact with the page. You must be familiar with the well-known—or infamous—”YouTube Algorithm.” It consumes your data and makes video recommendations depending on your activities.

Consider the scenario if you watched a YouTube video comparing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. YouTube will start recommending videos with similar names and content the next time you open the app or refresh the homepage. When you actively search for a video, it is perfectly ethical to suggest related videos. If you use YouTube for educational purposes, it can also assist you in learning more about a subject.

But it can be annoying when the YouTube homepage is overrun with videos of children’s rhymes that your younger cousin had previously looked up on your iPhone. Ads follow the same rules. You probably don’t want to see adverts promoting a sale on a website you just explored for e-commerce. This begs the question of why YouTube tracks user behaviour.

Why does YouTube track user activity? 

The main goal of tracking consumers’ activities on YouTube is to keep them hooked on the service. Yes, the platform generates money off of every video you watch (surprise), the more people who watch the content, the more money the platform makes.

Additionally, people are more likely to respond to personalised adverts than to random ads. It goes without saying that you will be more interested in an advertisement for a product you just searched for on Google than you will be in watching random content that does not appeal to you.

How to stop YouTube from tracking watch history

For iPhone, iPad and Android

  1. Open the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad. Ensure you are logged in to your account.
  2. Tap your profile (image) at the top right corner. 
  3. Scroll down and tap Your data in YouTube
  4. Navigate to the YouTube Watch History section → tap Manage your YouTube Watch History

    stop YouTube from tracking Watch History, open youtube app, tap on profile, tap Your data in YouTube, tap Manage your YouTube Watch History
  5. Now head to the Controls tab → tap the Turn Off option. 
  6. On the next page, tap Pause
  7. You will see the Setting is off page. You can select Delete old activity to delete your previous YouTube watch history. 
  8. Tap OK

    head to the Controls tab, tap the Turn Off, tap Pause, Tap OK

Beginning now, YouTube will not keep track of the videos you watch. However, if you wish to disable this setting in the future, follow the same steps and select the TURN ON option. 

For Mac and Windows

  1. Open YouTube in Safari or any web browser of your choice. 
    Ensure you’re logged into your account.
  2. Click on your profile at the top right corner.

    Open youtube on Mac, Click on your profile
  3. Navigate to Your data in YouTube.

    Navigate to Your data in YouTube on Mac
  4. Scroll to YouTube Watch History section → click Manage your YouTube Watch History

    Scroll to YouTube Watch History section, click Manage your YouTube Watch History
  5. In the left pane, click the Controls tab → click Turn Off

    In the left pane, click the Controls tab, click Turn Off
  6. Now, click Pause on the next screen. 

    Click Pause on the next screen on Mac
  7. You can click on Delete old activity if you want to delete your previous YouTube watch history. 
  8. Click X or Got it

    Click X or Got it

How to turn off personalized ads on YouTube

Please note that disabling Personalized ads is not specific to YouTube but affects all sites and apps that partner with Google. 

For iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad. 
  2. Tap your profile at the top right corner → tap Your data in YouTube.
  3. Under YouTube Watch History, tap Manage your YouTube Watch History

    Disable personalized YouTube ads, open Youtube app, Tap your profile, tap Your data in YouTube, tap Manage your YouTube Watch History
  4. Head to the Controls tab.
  5. Navigate to My Ad Centre → tap Go to My Ad Centre
  6. Tap the On button next to Personalized ads → select Turn off.

    Head to control tab, tap Go to My Ad Centre, tap the On button, select Turn off
  7. Tap Got it on the next screen. 

    Tap Got it on the next screen

It might take a while for the changes to apply. However, once done, you will no longer see advertisements based on your activity. 

For Mac and Windows

  1. Open YouTube in Safari or any web browser of your choice.
    Ensure you are logged in to your account.
  2. Click on your profile at the top right corner. 

    Open youtube on Mac, Click on your profile 2
  3. Navigate to Your data in YouTube.

    Navigate to Your data in YouTube on Mac 2
  4. Under YouTube Watch History, click the Manage your YouTube Watch History option. 

    Under YouTube Watch History, click the Manage your YouTube Watch History
  5. In the left pane, click the Controls tab.
  6. Under My Ad Center, click Go to My Ad Centre

    In the left pane, click the Controls tab, click Go to My Ad Centre on Mac
  7. Click On the button next to Personalized ads

    Click On the button next to Personalized ads
  8. Select Turn off at the bottom of the pop-up.

    Select Turn off at the bottom of the pop-up
  9. Click Got it on the next screen. 

    Click Got it on the next screen to Disable personalized YouTube ads on Mac

Let’s say you desire a more private browsing experience even after making the adjustments indicated above, or even if you don’t want to make the modifications mentioned above. In that situation, we advise you to turn on YouTube’s Incognito mode.

How to turn on Incognito Mode on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

  1. Open the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad. 
  2. Tap your profile at the top right corner. 
  3. Now, select the Turn on Incognito option. 

    Turn-on-Incognito-Mode-in-YouTube-on-iPhone-open-youtube-app-tap-on-your-profile-select-the-Turn-on-Incognito-option-scaled

When you want to watch a video that someone sent you without messing with the algorithm or ruining your YouTube homepage, incognito mode is quite helpful. In addition, none of the activity is recorded in the Watch History because it is running in incognito mode.

Repeat the previous steps and choose Turn Off Incognito to return to your profile after viewing videos in Incognito mode.

Pros and cons of blocking YouTube from tracking your activity

Let me explain the benefits and drawbacks so you can weigh your options if you’re still trying to decide whether or not to stop YouTube from tracking your online behaviour.

Pros

  • YouTube will not keep track of the videos you’ve watched, allowing you to watch any video of your choice without affecting your algorithm.  
  • None of the videos you watch will affect the suggestions on the YouTube Homepage. 
  • Ads will no longer be targeted and won’t be based on your browsing history. 

Cons

  • YouTube won’t remember where you stopped a video. You won’t be able to resume a video from the moment you last watched it. 
  • Any videos you watch won’t contribute towards YouTube, suggesting relevant videos on the homepage. 
  • You will get random ads on videos. 

Don’t share your data with anyone!

You probably found the information useful in stopping YouTube from monitoring your online behaviour. You can even stop Google from tracking your site and app activities if you want to go one step further. Please leave your questions in the comments section below.

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