That’s it! You can optionally delete your entire YouTube history, but you don’t need to in order for this to work. Head to the YouTube homepage and you won’t see any recommended videos, just a prompt to turn your history back on.
Isn’t that peaceful? No more impulsively watching things—now you’ll have to actively seek out them out.
How to Find Things to Watch
Turning off the algorithm doesn’t mean giving up on YouTube entirely—it just means watching it on your own terms. Of course, the search function still works, so you can find things that way.
My main recommendation, though, is to get acquainted with your YouTube subscriptions. This page, which you can find on YouTube’s homepage by clicking Subscriptions, shows you all of the latest videos uploaded by all of the channels you’re subscribed to. Scroll through this, and I’m sure you’ll find some videos you’re interested in.
The problem with the YouTube algorithm, like most recommendation algorithms, is that all it can do is predict what you want based on your past behavior. It knows who you have been but not who you want to be. Maybe you watch a lot of celebrity gossip right now but would rather be the kind of person who uses their downtime to learn about gardening. The algorithm makes that hard because it shows you the kinds of things you’ve had a tough time resisting in the past. A subscriptions feed full of gardening channels, though, is only going to show you the kinds of things you wish you were watching instead.
It’s a little bit more work, but it gives you a lot more agency than a black box algorithm ever could. Give it a shot.