How to Block Shorts on YouTube

Learn different ways that you can block YouTube Shorts for your devices.

by Tech Lockdown Team
|
Updated December 28, 2023

YouTube Shorts is known for its brief and engaging content. However, some of us wish that this feature was never added to YouTube and would like to block YouTube shorts entirely.

For some people, Shorts can be a source for discovering explicit content that they'd rather not have in their lives. Furthermore, the impact of short-form video and endless scrolling on procrastination and attention span is a clear negative byproduct of this feature.

To address this, we've developed a practical guide on how to handle YouTube Shorts. After experimenting with various techniques, we've honed methods that are effective on different devices and for various user preferences.

Whether you're looking to reduce distractions, control the type of content you encounter, or simply manage your online engagement more effectively, this guide provides easy, efficient strategies to block YouTube Shorts. At the end of the day, it's all about tailoring your digital environment to suit your personal needs and preferences.

Why Should You Block Shorts on YouTube?

Compared to normal YouTube videos, Shorts are especially addictive because it provides an endless stream of new and unique content that are more effective at triggering dopamine (a reward chemical in the brain that motivates you to keep doing something). In fact, this is similar to how other addictive online behaviors use endless novelty to keep you hooked.

YouTube can be useful. There are so many educational videos that you can watch, as well as tutorials, podcasts, and music. But YouTube makes more money by keeping you engaged on their platform.

The whole point of video recommendations, thumbnails, and shorts is to keep you watching and engaged on the YouTube platform. 

You might be searching for a particular video and end up spending much more time than you intended browsing the site and watching other videos. Shorts takes this to a new level, since it provides an endless stream of new content for you.

Since YouTube knows that Shorts are a great hook for their audience, they have a vested interest in making sure Shorts are as hard as possible to block on their platform. 

But there are things you can do outside the YouTube platform that can either block or limit Shorts.

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How Does YouTube Want You to Limit Shorts?

Before we take a look at some more in-depth (and more effective) solutions, let's first take a look at the controls YouTube provides to limit features on their platform.

Shorts are pretty much impossible for you to disable using YouTube's controls alone.

They'll let you turn off some features, such as tracking watched video history, but won't give you an option to turn off Shorts the same way.

However, what you can do is limit how many Shorts you are exposed to. To do this:

You will have to keep doing this for every Shorts video you see. Eventually, YouTube will start to get the hint and show you fewer suggestions.

Note

You will have to mark any new shorts you see - this solution does not permanently solve the problem.

Techniques for Blocking YouTube Shorts

Now that we know YouTube wants you to limit Shorts, there are some things that we recommend our customers do that are much more effective. Some of these options are interchangeable, and you can set them up on your devices at the same time. 

1) Block YouTube Shorts Thumbnails

Before trying to block YouTube shorts entirely, you can instead consider blocking YouTube thumbnails . This blocks the preview images for YouTube Shorts so you can't see clickbait images. 

Here's an example of what this looks like if set up on a smartphone:

When you block YouTube thumbnails, it will also block the Shorts thumbnails so that you can't see the preview image for a short. This makes Shorts less inciting and addictive.

Check out our free guide: how to block YouTube thumbnails .

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2) Use a Blocking Application to Filter URLs

One of the tools that we recommend to people is called Cold Turkey , which allows you to filter specific URLs in your web browser. In our case, we can add the following entry to filter out shorts:

youtube.com/shorts/*

What this does is block any URL that starts with "youtube.com/shorts/". All Shorts videos start with this URL, so Cold Turkey will display a page like this:

3) Block or Restrict YouTube with a DNS Filter

Even though you have more options on a computer, still consider whether you should  block YouTube entirely . You may not need to, but if you really want to quit wasting time, then it might be necessary. 

Instead of blocking the platform entirely, you can  filter content on YouTube  and enforce Restricted mode. We recommend doing this even if you plan on continuing to use YouTube. 

The best way to do both is to use a DNS filter . DNS filters can work at the network level to either block or enforce restricted mode for both the website and app. As a bonus, a DNS Filter can be set up on your home network, so all connected devices are protected.

4) Using Cloudflare Zero Trust to Block Shorts (Advanced)

Cloudflare Zero Trust is a solution that's designed to provide advanced filtering for businesses, but you can also set it up at home for free . Zero Trust has ability to filter out specific sections or URLs within a website (and this includes Shorts).

Note

Zero Trust is an advanced platform, and while it's designed to be user-friendly, it can be a bit overwhelming. It's been built with businesses and IT professionals in mind. 

Cloudflare's free tier is more than enough for individuals or families. You can check out Cloudflare's Homepage to learn more.

If you have Zero Trust set up on your devices, then you can use an HTTP policy to filter out the Shorts URL from being accessible on a device:

(/shorts/*.)

Tech Lockdown premium members get access to premium guides, including how to set up Cloudflare on your devices and home network .

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Frequently Ask Questions

I want to block Shorts for my Children. How do I do this?

Because Shorts is so ingrained into the YouTube app, it's worth considering whether the app is needed at all.  You can block the YouTube app  or use a DNS Filtering service to filter content on YouTube. The options mentioned in this guide can also be set up on your child's device.

You'll have more luck setting up restrictions on a computer, since there are applications and programs that will be able to have much better control over which sites are being accessed.

I still want to watch Shorts, but I keep getting recommending videos that I don't want. What do I do?

It depends on the type of content you don't want to see. If it's just topics you would rather not see, try clicking/tapping the three dots near the top of the Short, and then marking the video as "Not Interested".

If it's inappropriate content, then you should enforce  YouTube restricted mode on your device to filter out most of this.

How can I limit how many Shorts I watch each day?

YouTube has the option for you to "Remind me to take a break" within their platform. It's off by default, but you can find it under Settings > General > Remind me to take a break. There is also an option to "Remind me when it's bedtime".

Some apps or parental controls will allow you to set limits on how long you can use an app each day. A good example of this is Screen Time on iOS (iPhones and iPads).

I want to learn how to block content across all my devices. Where do I start?

Tech Lockdown has many guides that are available for free that offer different ways you can block content on each of your devices. Premium members get access to our in-depth guides that walk you through more advanced topics, like device supervision and management, and network filtering.