I have a very bad habit of accidentally touching my phone’s screen, which often results in going a page forward or back in the book I’m reading or leaving the YouTube video I’m watching — or going to a different TikTok video than the one I was just enjoying. In addition, if I have to take a phone call or answer a Slack message, I can lose track of where I was.
Usually, this is an easy fix: I can just back up to the previous page of the book or check out my YouTube history. But unfortunately, it’s not as easy with TikTok, which doesn’t have a simple way to check the history of which videos you’ve watched.
For example, the day I started writing this, I accidentally swiped out of videos I was watching at least two times and was unable to immediately get back to them. And because I couldn’t remember the name of the creator, I was essentially sunk.
What to do?
Well, if I had been smart quickly enough to “like” the video — or follow the creator — it would have been easy:
- Tap on the “Me” icon in the lower-right corner.
- If you “liked” the video, tap on the heart icon below your profile to see thumbnails of all the videos you’ve liked.
- If you’re following the creator, tap on the “Following” link just below your username to see a list of all the creators you’re following. Then tap on that person to see thumbnails of all their videos.
However, if you haven’t yet liked the video or are not following that creator — something that often happens to me — then the best way to find your watch history is to download it.
- Go to your profile page (by tapping the “Me” icon in the bottom right), and tap on the three lines in the upper-right corner.
- Select “Privacy” > “Personalization and data” > “Download your data”
- Under the “Request data” tab, select whether you want to download your data as a TXT file or a JSON file, and tap “Processing request”
And wait. Unfortunately, this isn’t a fast process; it could be at least 24 hours — or more — before your data is made available. Until then, if you go to the “Download data” tab, you’ll see a grayed-out “Pending” button.
It took about three days before I saw the red “Download” button appear under the “Download data” tab. It took me to the web version of TikTok, where I had to sign in again and was finally able to download a zipped file of my data. When I unzipped the file, I went to the Activity folder, where I found text files for Favorite Effects, Favorites Sounds, and so on — along with one labeled “Video Browsing.” It was there I finally found a list of dates and URLs for the videos I’d been looking at.
Once your data is available, you will be able to download it for up to four days. By the time you finally get it, of course, you may have completely forgotten which video you wanted to go back to or why. But it doesn’t hurt to have a record of all the videos you’ve looked at — and you may be surprised at just how many there are.
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