How to Block YouTube Completely

Discover effective ways to block YouTube access and regain focus. Learn device-level and network-wide techniques for better productivity.

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Tech Lockdown Team
Updated May 13, 2024

This article provides detailed instructions on how to completely block YouTube on a device or entire home network.

While uninstalling the YouTube app and deactivating your YouTube account is a possibility, sometimes it needs to be blocked completely. There are a few effective techniques that allow us to block YouTube on either a specific device or for an entire network.

Before you try to block YouTube entirely, you might consider  filtering content on YouTube . You can follow our recommendations to limit compulsive habits by blocking thumbnails and even blocking searches on the platform.

Blocking YouTube thumbnails reduces the addictive nature of the platform while also making it harder to stumble on to inappropriate content.

Scheduling when YouTube is Blocked

Another option to consider before blocking YouTube 24/7 is scheduling when it can be accessed.

You can use tools like DNS Content Policy to schedule when YouTube is blocked, which applies to both the YouTube app and YouTube website.

Scheduling when YouTube can be accessed allows you to rewire your habits to eliminate compulsively checking YouTube.

This is a useful approach when combined with Blocking YouTube thumbnails and enforcing restricted mode. You'll significantly cut down on your screen time with these combined approaches.

You can use a DNS Filtering Content Policy with a scheduled rule to decide when YouTube is allowed or blocked.

For example, I update my Tech Lockdown Content Policy to give myself a 30-minute window at lunch where I can browse YouTube and social media:

When dealing with addictive habits, bypass prevention is an important point to consider. Otherwise, you'll simply develop a habit of compulsively adjusting your YouTube block schedule until you eventually don't block it at all.

To keep myself from adjusting my Content Policy rule schedule, I lock my Tech Lockdown profile .

Another advantage of using a DNS Filter to block YouTube is that you can install this on all types of devices:

  1. Home Router / Home Wifi. Schedule when YouTube can be accessed on all devices using your home internet connection.
  2. Smartphone Always-on VPN. You can schedule YouTube usage on your smartphone by downloading an app that configures the VPN. This ensures your schedule is still enforced even when your WiFi is off and you are using 4g/5g internet.
  3. Computer Always-on VPN. Similar to the smartphone, Windows and Mac computers can install a program that activates an always-on VPN that keeps you always connected to your Content Policy.
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Setting YouTube Time Limits

Another approach involves setting app time limits to block YouTube after it has been used for a certain amount of time.

This can be a good approach, especially when you combine this with Blocking YouTube Thumbnails, enforcing YouTube restricted mode , and scheduling when you can use YouTube.

You can do this on both iPhone and Android smartphones using parental control features that come built-in to the smartphone.

For example, you can set App Limits using iPhone parental controls , which can be used to limit how long you can use YouTube.

One of the issues with parental controls like Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing is that they are fairly easy to bypass and App Limits don't carry over to the mobile version of the app that can be accessed in the browser. This is where DNS Filtering provides a more thorough approach: both the App and Mobile Website are restricted.

Additionally, remembering or recovering a 4 digit screen time pin is fairly easy to do, so it's not an effective approach for people motivated to bypass a block.

In our experience, we don't recommend depending completely on these built-in parental control features unless you are actually a parent managing a child's device.

However, time limits can supplement more effective approaches, like our previously discussed scheduled DNS Filtering Content Policy block rule.

Block YouTube Entirely

When dealing with apps that can encourage compulsive behaviors, we've realized that a multi-layered blocking approach is often necessary. This makes blocking harder to bypass and can help deter compulsive use.

In most cases, the first layer of blocking will be more than enough for most people. However, you might decided to combine Layer 1 and Layer 2.

Layer 1: DNS Filtering

The best way to block YouTube completely is to use a DNS Filtering service.

This allows you to:

  1. Block the YouTube app on iPhone, Android, Windows, and Mac
  2. Block the YouTube mobile website

This gives you a more thorough and reliable approach to blocking YouTube without having to hack together a few solutions on each type of device that you care about.

For example, you can configure a DNS Filtering Content Policy that specifies things that should always be blocked. 

You can create a rule to always block YouTube and have this rule applied always:

If you only want to block YouTube for some people in your household and not others, you can update your block rule to only apply to specific people:

Then, you can install it on your devices:

  1. Home Router / Home Wifi DNS settings: You can  install a DNS Filter on your home router  by pointing the DNS settings to your filter.  All devices that use your home internet connection will benefit from your Content Policy, so you could choose to block YouTube for everyone at home.
  2. Application: You can install an app on smartphones and computers that keeps your devices connected to your filter Content Policy, even when roaming on 4g/5g.
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Layer 2: Blocking YouTube on Computers

Whether you have a Windows or a Mac computer, there are a few different techniques that can be used to completely block YouTube. 

One method is to use the Hosts File to block YouTube . The Host File is a file on a computer that can be used to change how the computer interacts online. 

Add these entries to your hosts file to Block YouTube:

Another Layer 2 method involves the use of browser extensions that block websites .

These options are fairly limited on their own, so we recommend combining with Layer 1.

This would give you 3 ways that YouTube is blocked, which is much harder to bypass:

  1. Update your Content Policy to block YouTube, then connect to either your Router or Computer (or both!)
  2. Add the Hosts file entries to block YouTube
  3. Install a website blocking browser extension and block YouTube with that as well

Better Blocking for Mac & PC

Elevate your content blocking and bypass prevention with DNS Filtering and Device Management.

Layer 2: Blocking YouTube on Smartphones

Smartphones have built-in parental controls that allow you some basic control over blocking apps like YouTube.

For example, with Apple Screen Time, you can toggle allowed apps that are already installed on the device.

Android smartphones can download App Blockers that are generally pretty good at blocking content. 

However, both methods are fairly easy to bypass and are quite limited on their own. They are best used when combined with Layer 1 YouTube blocking.

If you wanted to go further with Layer 2, a more effective way to block apps natively on iPhone and Android is to enable managed mode.

Managed mode lets you create app blocklists on your Android or iOS smartphone in a way that is hard to bypass.

Furthermore, you can even prevent installing apps that aren't specifically on your whitelist.

This is a highly restrictive approach and one of the reasons why we are big advocates for Device Management on iOS and Android.

Manage Android and iOS Devices at Home
Manage Android and iOS Devices at Home
Go further with blocking content and preventing bypass on iPhone and Android smartphones.

Going Further with Bypass Prevention

When it comes to dealing with addictive apps like YouTube and the subsequent bad habits, I've found that a Blocking System that considers multiple factors is a better approach.

Here's what I mean by that:

  1. Content Blocking is fairly easy to bypass, especially if you are self-managing. 
  2. Some people are highly motivated to get around blockers to access addictive content and this creates challenges for any blocking system.

In order to add significant friction to help break compulsive behaviors, I've written a definitive guide that goes through concepts like the following:

  1. Go much further with bypass prevention using device management techniques to enforce restrictions on a device.
  2. Increasing accountability and browsing transparency
  3. Preventing uninstall of apps and browsers extensions
  4. Handling common bypass methods

These step-by-step instructions are made available to Tech Lockdown members in your account dashboard in the guides section.

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