For over 15 years, people have been using private browsing to have some level of security in their Internet activities. Using the incognito mode on a browser lets a user surf the web without leaving a trail of cookies, history, passwords, and other personal data. With all the horrifying news about data theft and spying, you might ask, “How do I go incognito?” Well, if this is your concern, you’d be glad that you found this article. In this post, we are going to show you all you need to know about private browsing—what it is and how to do it.
What Is an Incognito Window?
When you use an incognito window, your browsing activities will be private from other users. In private mode, everything in your search history will be erased. Moreover, any tracking cookies you pick up during your session will be dropped. That said, your Internet service provider (ISP) will still have access to your browsing activities. If you want a higher level of privacy, you’ll need a reliable virtual private network (VPN).
With a VPN service, you can hide all your activities from your ISP. Now, there are many benefits you can get from this. For instance, you can avoid monthly limits, daily data caps, and other traffic blocks. A VPN will even redirect your IP address to a different server, allowing you to access content blocked in China, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries with heavy censorship rules. Of course, you shouldn’t forget that a VPN can let you stream US content, including videos from Netflix and Hulu.
How to Access the Private Browsing Feature on Different Web Browsers
You may learn that incognito mode has different names, depending on the browser. However, the process for accessing the feature almost does not vary. There are some subtle differences from browser to browser. If you want to learn how to browse incognito or how to turn off incognito mode, check out the guides below.
How to Go Incognito on Chrome
Google Chrome is undeniably one of the top browsers around the world. In this browser, the private mode is referred to as “Incognito Mode.” Here are the steps to accessing this feature:
Incognito Mode on macOS and Windows
- You can launch an incognito window by accessing the special menu on the Chrome browser. Whether you’re using macOS or Windows, this menu will look like three vertically aligned dots at the top-right portion of the browser.
- There’s also a keyboard shortcut for bringing up an incognito window on Chrome. For Windows, you have to press Ctrl+Shift+N. For macOS, you need to press Command+Shift+N.
- Select New Incognito Window from the menu.
- To turn off incognito mode, all you need to do is close the window.
Remember that in incognito mode, you can still download files and bookmark sites. However, the extensions will not work. You need to configure them to run in incognito mode on the settings page.
Incognito Mode on iOS and Android
- If you’re using an Android or iOS device, the first thing you need to do is launch a regular Chrome browser.
- Now, go to the top-right portion of the browser, then tap the three dots.
- From the drop-down menu, select New Incognito Tab.
Note: You will land on a page that tells you that you’ve gone incognito. You will see some descriptions and warnings about the feature.
- If you want to get out of incognito mode, tap the X on the tab and go back to a non-private tab. You can also close the entire window to turn off incognito mode.
Opening a Private Browsing Window on Mozilla
- You can also access the private browsing feature from the menu in the upper-right portion of Mozilla Firefox.
- On the other hand, you can press the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+N on macOS or Ctrl+Shift+N on Windows.
Note: You will notice that the private window will have a purple band across the top. You will also see a private browsing icon in the top-right corner of the browser.
- You will have the option to switch on tracking protection. The feature will protect you from being tracked across various websites. Keep in mind that websites can easily ignore your request and keep on tracking you. However, since you’re on a private browsing window, all the cookies will be deleted after your session.
- Close the private browsing window to get rid of the feature.
Opening an InPrivate Browsing Window on Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer may not be as popular as it was before. However, there are still quite a few people who prefer it over other browsers. If you want to access its private browsing feature, follow the instructions below:
- Go to the upper-right corner of the browser, then click the gear icon.
- Select Safety, then click InPrivate Browsing.
- You can also press Ctrl+Shift+P on your keyboard to launch the feature.
Next to the address bar, you will see a blue box that indicates you’re in InPrivate mode. Keep in mind that your extensions and toolbars will be disabled when you are in this mode. You can close the window to exit InPrivate browsing.
Opening an InPrivate Browsing Window on Microsoft Edge
When you install Windows 10, it will come with Microsoft’s new browser, Edge. It also has an InPrivate browsing feature. To access it, follow the steps below:
- Launch Microsoft Edge, then go to the top-right corner of the browser and click the menu icon. Select New InPrivate Window from the options. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+P on your keyboard.
- You will notice that the entire browser has turned gray. Moreover, every tab will be labeled as “InPrivate”.
- If you want to exit InPrivate mode, you can simply close the tab or window.
Opening a Private Browsing Window on Safari
If you’re surfing the web with Safari on your iPad or iPhone, you can still go incognito. Here are the steps:
- Go to the lower-right corner of the browser, then tap the New Tab icon.
- Go to the lower-left corner, then tap Private.
- You will notice that the browser window has turned gray, telling you that you’re in incognito mode.
- You can exit the private browsing feature by tapping the Done button in the lower-right corner of the browser.
What Are the Uses of Private Browsing?
While it isn’t as good as a VPN, private browsing still offers numerous benefits. Here are some of them:
Sneaking Through Paywalls
Isn’t it frustrating when you’re trying to read an article but the website requires you to pay for a subscription? Sites like The New York Times let people read a number of articles for free for a month but force them to pay a subscription afterwards. In some cases, the site will let you read more articles when you follow a link from their social media accounts on Twitter or Facebook.
If you’re a heavy article reader, you should learn how to go into incognito mode. In private browsing, your PC won’t store cookies that you pick up from your reading sessions. As such, whenever you access sites with leaky paywalls, you’ll always be recognized as a unique visitor. In this way, you’ll always be able to read articles for free.
Keeping Your Activities Private on a Public PC
Most people have Wi-Fi connections in their homes, and because of tablets and smartphones, they can connect to the Internet wherever they are. It’s almost rare for us to visit Internet cafes these days to access our online accounts. However, there may be instances wherein you’ll need to use a public PC. Keep in mind that computers like this are often poorly maintained. It may store your browsing history and data after your session.
So, to ensure that no one will stumble across your online accounts, make sure you use private mode on a public PC. It is effective enough to give you some form of protection while you browse online. In any case, if you want foolproof security, just bring your device anywhere you go. If you need to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, use a VPN service.
Having no Browsing History on Your Computer
Some people use incognito mode to hide their tracks when searching for pornographic materials. However, that’s not the only reason why you might want to use private browsing. For instance, you’re worried about a medical condition that you don’t want your family members to know about. Perhaps, you’re shopping for a surprise gift and you don’t want your loved one to see that you were browsing for items on Amazon. By using incognito mode, you can keep your browsing activities, well, private.
From the guides we featured in this article, you can easily conclude that the process for accessing the private browsing mode is more or less the same for every product. It also operates the same way on different platforms with only a couple of distinctions. Moreover, you can expect the same results and benefits—browsing without storing your activities and the cookies or trackers you pick up.