The YouTube algorithm is good! Really good. It’s basically how I discovered all the channels and creators I like. But sometimes I feel like it’s too god, to the point that it’s addicting. No wonder, keeping my attention fixed on their content (and by extension their ads) is their business model, after all.
But at some point I found myself watching videos I noticed I did not even enjoy. That can be a terrible rabbit hole, as I assume many people can relate to. That’s why I was looking for a way to help me control my watching behavior and somewhat reduce the pull of The Algorithm.

I tried various site blockers that disable YouTube entirely, but none of those worked for my brain. I like watching videos after all, so if there is a button to get me there, I’ll want to press it. 🙂
If that’s something that works for you: great! But here is my suggestion, it’s what worked for me – surprisingly well actually.

There are browser plugins that let you apply custom styling to websites. I suspect most people use these to enable a custom kind of dark mode or things of that nature, but basically it just lets you inject any kind of CSS into any website. I’m hesitant to recommend any particular plugin, as a plugin of this kind has quite a lot of access to your browser and you would want to trust it to be secure. But anyhow, the one I’m using is called Stylus (Chrome, Firefox. Opera, Source Code on GitHub).

What you can do is apply this tiny “style” to

#secondary {
    display: none !important;

What this does is hide the sidebar containing video recommendations next to videos you are watching. Those are what I’ve found have the most potential to keep me on the site longer than I want to (“ah, just one more video, this looks really appealing”). With this tiny CSS addition, all that changes is that these suggestions are no longer displayed to you. Anything else keeps working flawlessly, and most importantly, you can still watch the videos you actually care about.

If you want to lock down video suggestions even more, you can also disable all suggestions on YouTube’s landing page with this little snippet:

#masthead-ad {
    display: none !important;
.ytd-rich-grid-renderer {    
    display: none !important;

This will present you basically with a blank YouTube page just containing a search bar. Perfect!
You can decide whether you want one of those or both, or even make them toggleable separately by setting up two “styles”.

The amazing thing is that I have not once missed these suggestions on the side. The landing page I sometimes leave enabled, because as I said, the algorithm in it’s core is really good.
I found this tiny addition tremendously helpful for my YouTube watching habits. Maybe you will too! 🙂

If you have your own suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. 😉

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