How To: Use Private Browsing in the most Popular Browsers

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Incognito web browsing is private Internet surfing, in which cache and cookies are not left behind to point out where the user has been. Fortunately, most of the available web browsers provide their users with incognito surfing, because this privacy mode can be very helpful for many reasons.  Be aware though that every major web browser has its own private mode browsing. Furthermore, Internet Explorer has InPrivate, FireFox has Private Browsing, Chrome has Incognito and Opera and Safari have Private Browsing. In this tutorial we are going to analyze everyone of them and see how they work.

Internet Explorer -> InPrivate Browsing

The incognito browsing mode in Internet Explorer is called InPrivate. 

  • You can find it by going to Tools menu on the right side of the window
  • Then in the Safety option select InPrivate Browsing.

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  • When you click on it, Internet Explorer will open a new window, in which you will see the following notification: “InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.” This notification describes exactly the features of the InPrivate broswing.
  • If you want to leave the InPrivate browsing, close the window.

FireFox -> Private Browsing

In FireFox the private mode is called Private Browsing.

  • You will find it under the FireFox button on the top left.
  • Press the Start Private Browsing option.

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  • When you open the Private Browsing, the FireFox button will turn into purple. The button changed its color in order to remind you that you are using the Private Browsing mode.
  • You will also see the following notification: In a Private Browsing session, Firefox won’t keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies or temporary Internet files. However, files you download and bookmarks you make will be kept. 
  • In addition, FireFox informs you that even if your internet history is not saved, your internet service provider or employer will still be able to track the pages you visited.

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  • If you want to go back to the tabs you have opened before Private Browsing mode, all you have to is close the current Private Browsing window.

Chrome -> Incognito

The private mode surfing in Chrome is called Incognito.

  • Click the Customize and control Google Chrome menu on the right side of the window.
  • Then select the New incognito window option.

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  • Once you do it, Chrome will open a new window, in which you will get the following notification: You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your bowser history or search history and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies on your computer after you close all open incognito windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved , however. 
  • The notification also warns you about website, which collect or share informations about you. It informs you that internet service providers and employees can find the pages you have been. Additionaly, it alerts you that malicious software can’t be stopped while you are browsing ”Incognito”. Finally, the notification informs you that extensions are disabled, but if you want , you can enable them manually.

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Opera -> Private Browsing

In Opera the incognito mode is called Private Browsing. 

  • Go to the Opera menu and choose the Tabs and Windows option.
  • You can either select to open a New Private Tab or a New Private Window.

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  • A new private tab will look similar to the screenshot below.

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  • You will also get this brief notification: Browser activity within this tab is private. When you close this tab, Opera deleted all information connected with it.

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  • If you click the Learn more about private browsing link, you will get the following notification: If you wish to browse without leaving a trace , for example, if you’re using someone else’s computer or a public one, you can use private tabs or windows. See more in the Private browsing topic.

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  • If you click on the Private browsing link, you will get the following detailed info:

To browse without leaving any trace of the website you visit, you can use a private tab or window. This is especially useful if you are using someone else’s computer or planning a surprise that you want to keep secret. When you close a private tab, the following data related to the tab is deleted- browsing history, items in cache, cookies and logins. A closed tab or window cannot be recovered from the ”Closed Tabs” drop-down on the right side of the tab bar. While private tabs or windows do not any record of the website you visit, if you deliberately save data, for example, if you save a bookmark or download a file, it will still be visible after the tab is closed. 

  • If you want to close all private tabs at once, right-click on a tab and select Close All Private Tabs. You can also use the Ctrl + Shift + Q combination to do it.

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NOTE: If you want to open a New Private Window, instead of a New Private Tab, repeat the same process but in the Tabs and Windows menu select New Private Window.

Safari -> Private Browsing

In Safari the private surfing mode is called Private Browsing.

  • Go to the Edit menu and select Private Browsing.

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  • Once you open the Private Browsing window, a pop-up window will appear asking you to confirm your decision. It will also provide you with the following information:

When private browsing is turned on, webpages are not added to the history, items are automatically removed from the Downloads window, information isn’t saved for Autofill (including names and passwords), and searches are not added to the opo-up menu in the Google search box. Until you close the window, you can still click the Back and Forward buttons to return to webpages you have opened. 

When Private Browsing would be Useful

Private browsing can be useful in several occasions. For example:

  • When you want to access taboo websites.
  • When you share your computer with many users and you want to keep your personal information secret.
  • When you want to test or debug a website.
  • When you want to manage multiple Google Apps accounts.
  • When you are planning to surprise someone with a gift etc.

Is Private Browsing really Safe?

Well, it is not as private as you think, because your internet service provider can track the pages, where you have been, despite of the private mode you used. You should also consider the websites that store your data, when you visit them.

To sum up, private browsing can help you prevent other people from accessing your personal information, but unfortunately, you can’t hide from someone else.