By Rob Ciampa, Theresa Moore, John Carucci, Stan Muller, Adam Wescott

Clicking the History link in YouTube takes you to a new page listing every video you’ve ever watched. This page can be deeply embarrassing to visit, because it can reveal to you just how many makeup tutorials and Let’s Play videos you’ve watched in the last week.

But whereas this section can lead to feelings of shame and regret for time wasted, it can also be an interesting insight into your viewing habits. Luckily, it is only for you. As the section helpfully points out at its top, “Only you can see your history.” (The figure shows a Watch History Listing example).

The Watch History listing.

The Watch History listing.

Your watch history is what YouTube’s algorithms pay attention to when ­populating the suggested videos on the front page of your account.

Unlike with real‐world history — the stuff recorded in encyclopedias and ­history books — you do have some control over this list. A few controls here let you “rewrite history,” as described in this list:

  • Clear All Watch History: This is the nuclear option. If you’re ready to undo everything you’ve ever watched and start over with a clean slate, this button does just what it says and deletes all the information from your watch history.

  • Pause Watch History: This button puts your memory on hold, and allows you to watch videos without them being added either to your history or your video recommendations from YouTube. If you know that you’re about to binge‐watch a bunch of children’s videos and you don’t want to be recommended videos like these, this is the option to select. Of course, this strategy works only if you pause before you watch the videos. Otherwise, you’ll be in there clearing your watch history before you know it.

  • Search History: This allows you to review all the YouTube searches you have conducted. This is helpful when you forget to save a video and you want to reconstruct the search history. These are clickable links that allow you to be taken right back to the YouTube search results for that query.