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Netflix: Privacy & 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 when you watch a movie you wished you hadn’t.

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, watch lists and more 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 and then hover the mouse cursor over your username in the upper-right corner 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 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 over 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 on a streaming gadget can see what you’ve been up to. 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 and then hover the mouse cursor over your username in the upper-right corner and select “Your Account.” Under the “My Profile” section, click “Viewing activity.” Or you can sign in and go to Netflix.com/ViewingActivity.

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, you can click the “See recent account access” link to see if someone else is using your account.

In the My Activity area, in the upper right, you can also switch to see past ratings (stars for older viewings, thumbs up or 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 or thumb it down. This will make it appear fewer times and also tell Netflix not to weigh it so much when picking other 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, you won’t see as many of these, however.

If you want to revisit your preferences, go to the Netflix site and 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-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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