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Netflix: Privacy and other tricks you need to know

A few years back, Netflix was rumored to be testing out a “private” mode. Like a web browser’s privacy mode, turning this on would let you watch a movie or TV show but Netflix wouldn’t remember it. The idea was that you could watch a cheesy romantic comedy, a show with questionable content or something embarrassing to you without anyone else using the account knowing or having it influence your future recommendations.

The privacy mode never actually made it to Netflix; however, Netflix does have tools you can use to keep your privacy when you’re sharing an account. Plus, you can block recommendations from that time you watched a movie you wished you hadn’t.

Set up profiles

First, let’s talk about profiles, which aren’t new, but many people still don’t use them. Netflix allows each account to have up to five individual profiles, which helps to keep recommendations and watchlists separate. Your kids or grandkids can watch as many cartoons as they want without making that the only thing you see in your recommended videos list.

To create new profiles:

  • Go to the Netflix home page and log in.
  • Select your profile, then hover your cursor over your username in the top right and select “Manage Accounts.”

When you create a profile, you can select “Kids 12 & Under.” This only displays movies and videos PG-13 or TV-14 and lower in ratings. You can also choose the more specific “Little Kids,” “Older Kids,” “Teens” and “Adults” to further restrict or allow content.

Of course, profiles aren’t password-protected, so there’s nothing to stop a child from switching to another account. Instead, be sure to visit the Parental Control section for each non-child account to activate a PIN. This will keep anyone who doesn’t know the PIN from watching content above a certain level.

It won’t stop them from seeing what you’ve watched, however.

Edit your viewing history

Because profiles aren’t locked, anyone using your account on a computer or streaming gadget can see what you’ve been watching. Fortunately, if you did watch something you don’t really want anyone else to see, Netflix now allows you to edit your viewing history.

  • Go to the Netflix home page and log in.
  • Select the profile you want to review, then hover the cursor over your username in the top right and select “Your Account.”
  • Under the “My Profile” section, click “Viewing Activity” or, alternately, sign in and go to
  • Scroll down the list and click the “X” next to any videos you want to remove. If you’re seeing videos in the list you didn’t watch, click “See recent account access” to see if someone else is using your account.

In the “My Activity” area, you can also switch to see past ratings (stars for older viewings, thumbs up or thumbs down for newer ones) you’ve given movies. If you really liked a movie a year ago but now decide you don’t, you can drop its rating. This will make it appear fewer times and also tell Netflix not to weigh it so heavily when picking your recommendations.

Tweak your recommendations

The Netflix recommendation system is very hit or miss. Sometimes it finds you the perfect thing to watch and other times, you wonder if it’s just guessing wildly. There’s a reason for that.

Netflix takes every movie you watch into account when developing your “Taste Profile.” This helps it recommend videos from a pool of 76,897 genres. Sound like a lot? Well, Netflix has genres like “Quirky Sci-Fi Comedies” and “Dark Independent Police Dramas.”

The way to change your recommendations is by rating what you watch. When you’re first starting Netflix, you’ll see a lot of surveys called “Taste Preferences” that ask you to rate movies, shows and genres you’ve watched recently. “Taste Preferences” are important to fill out so Netflix can build your “Taste Profile.”

After a while, though, you won’t see as many of these, so if you want to revisit your preferences, under “Your Account,” load the “Taste Preferences” survey, or click this link and log in.

Want to learn about more ways you can adjust Netflix for the best movie- and show-watching experience? Here are three tricks that include fixing streaming problems and more tricks that help you catch every bit of dialogue, create a better remote and more.

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