These Obscure Features Will Help You Stop Watching YouTube

Key Takeaways

  • Set up break reminders to keep track of your YouTube usage and take regular breaks.
  • Enable bedtime reminders to prevent staying up late watching YouTube videos and waking up tired.
  • Turn off autoplay, delete watch history, and disable notifications to avoid getting sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole and stay focused on your tasks.

If you’ve ever unwittingly stayed up all night or missed a deadline because you got sidetracked watching videos, you know how distracting YouTube can be. Luckily, there are a few features baked into your phone and the app that can help you manage your intake. Let’s explore them.

Break Reminder: Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Sometimes, all you need to keep yourself from obsessively watching videos is a gentle reminder to get off YouTube. That’s where the break reminder feature comes in. You can set it up to prompt you to take a YouTube break after a set interval—say 30 minutes or one hour. The interruption helps you stay aware of how much time you’re spending on YouTube and gives you the opportunity to disengage.

To enable the break reminder feature, open the YouTube app and click on your profile in the lower right corner.

A screenshot of the profile icon on the Youtube homepage

Next, tap the gear icon at the upper right corner of the screen. This will open your settings.

A screenshot of the Youtube profile page

Select “General.”

A screenshot of the YouTube settings page

On the next screen, turn on the toggle for “Remind me to take a break.”

A screenshot of the YouTube settings page

You’ll get a pop-up window to select the reminder frequency. Scroll through the numbers to choose the amount of time after which you want your reminder to repeat and click “OK”.

A screenshot of the Youtube break reminder page

Now, once you’ve watched YouTube for a set duration, for example, one hour, YouTube will pause your video and remind you to take a break.

Bedtime Reminder: Remind Yourself to Get Some Shut-eye

If you’re always watching YouTube videos late into the night and waking up tired the next day, the bedtime reminder feature is perfect for you. It automatically alerts you once it’s past your bedtime and prompts you to go to bed.

To enable the bedtime reminder, open the YouTube app on your phone and click on your profile. Now tap the settings icon in the top right corner and select “General”. Turn the “Remind Me When It’s Bedtime” toggle on to enable the bedtime reminder feature.

A screenshot of the Youtube settings page

In the pop-up that appears, you can set up your bedtime reminder settings. If you already have bedtime mode enabled on your phone, you can simply set up your bedtime reminder to work with that schedule.

Otherwise, you can create a custom bedtime schedule. You can also set up the reminder to wait until you finish a video before prompting you to go to bed by ticking the appropriate box. Once you’re done setting up, hit “OK”.

A screenshot of the YouTube bedtime reminder feature

YouTube will save your reminder settings, and once it’s bedtime, prompt you to go to sleep.

Disable Autoplay: Break the Cycle

One thing that makes YouTube so difficult to quit is that once one video ends, another replaces it in just a couple of seconds. This is by design. It’s a feature called autoplay, and it may be the reason why you’re having so much trouble stopping YouTube. Fortunately, you can simply turn autoplay off to avoid falling into a black hole of YouTube videos.

To turn off autoplay, open the YouTube app on your phone, and head back into the settings menu. Next, click “Autoplay.”

A screenshot of the YouTube settings page

Finally, switch off the toggle next to “Mobile Phone/Tablet” to turn off autoplay on your mobile and tablet devices.

A screenshot of the YouTube settings page

You can also check out how to turn off autoplay on your desktop.

Delete Your YouTube Watch History: Sabotage YouTube’s Algorithm

YouTube’s algorithm has gotten scary good over the past couple of years. The more you use it, the more it learns about the kind of content you like to consume and adjusts its recommendations to match. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to watch just one YouTube video and why you keep getting sidetracked by the video recommendations.

But there’s a way to beat the algorithm and avoid falling into the recommendation trap. The trick is to take your information out of YouTube’s hands by deleting your YouTube Watch History.

Turn off YouTube Notifications: Silence Those Bells

Sometimes you don’t even intend to watch YouTube, but then you get a notification and before you know it, you’re sucked into a content black hole.

To avoid distractions of this nature and stay focused on your tasks, try turning off your YouTube notifications so that you can work distraction-free. If you want to turn off notifications for a specific channel, you can do that too.

Simply open the YouTube app and click on “Subscriptions” at the bottom of the screen.

A screenshot of the YouTube app homepage

Next, click on “All” at the top right to see a list of all the YouTubers you’re subscribed to.

A screenshot of the YouTube app

Tap the bell icon next to the channel you want to mute.

A screenshot of the YouTube app

Select “None.”

A screenshot of the YouTube app

You will no longer get notifications from this channel.

Focus Mode: Get Hyper Focused

One way to eliminate the distraction that is YouTube is to turn on focus mode. You can use focus mode on Android or set it up on your iPhone or iPad. Doing so lets you add YouTube to the list of apps that you can’t open or receive notifications from during work hours. That way you can stay focused on your responsibilities without getting sidetracked.

Bedtime Mode: Go Grayscale

You may not realize it, but bright colors play a big role in keeping you glued to YouTube. Once you remove all the visual stimuli colors provide, YouTube suddenly becomes less engaging, even almost boring. Consequently, you’ll have an easier time putting it down in favor of getting some sleep.

If you use an Android phone, there’s a pretty easy way to do this—just turn on bedtime mode. This feature lets you set a bedtime routine which, while active, will silence your phone, dim the screen, and most importantly, change the colors to grayscale—i.e. white and black.

If you’re an iPhone user, there’s no handy bedtime mode to automatically change your display to grayscale, but you can get a similar effect by turning on color filters. To do that, open the settings app and head over to “Accessibility”

A screenshot of the iPhone settings page

Tap on “Display and Text Size.”

A screenshot of iPhone accessibility settings

Select “Color Filters.”

A screenshot of iPhone settings

Switch the toggle on.

A screenshot of the iPhone settings page

“Grayscale” should be selected by default. If it isn’t, select it to change your display to white and black.

A screenshot of the iPhone settings page

You can even go a step further and create an automation to toggle grayscale on/off every night/morning.

Disable or Block YouTube: Go Cold Turkey

If all else fails and YouTube is still sucking up your valuable hours you can always uninstall or disable the app on your phone and block the website on your desktop. That way you cut off your YouTube access completely. It might be difficult to go cold turkey in the beginning, but give it a few days, and you’ll find yourself adapting in no time.


There you have it, all the best ways to manage your YouTube watch time. If you want to make YouTube even less distracting, you can check out how to disable YouTube shorts or how to block all those distracting ads.


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