Learn to Activate Incognito Browsing Mode in Your Browser

When privacy is important, browse in private mode

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The term "incognito browsing" encompasses a wide array of precautions that web surfers can take to ensure that their activity on the web cannot be traced. Motives for incognito browsing are plenty, with both privacy and safety at the forefront of many internet users' minds. Whatever the inspiration for browsing privately may be, the bottom line is that many people want to avoid leaving behind tracks.

Proxy Servers for Incognito Browsing

Incognito browsing can involve utilizing firewalls and proxy servers to prevent those in the outside world from viewing web surfing activity, including rogue individuals as well as internet service providers and the government. These types of incognito browsing measures are commonly used in countries where internet access is limited as well as in the workplace or on campus.

Incognito Browsing via Specialized Applications

Some browsers are designed to achieve anonymity without a great deal of user intervention. Tor Browser is a perfect example of this, distributing your incoming and outgoing traffic through a series of virtual tunnels. WhiteHat Aviator, meanwhile, takes a more security-centric approach. For those concerned with censorship, PirateBrowser may offer a solution.

Incognito Browsing Within the Web Browser

For most web surfers, however, incognito browsing involves clearing their tracks from others who may have access to the same computer or mobile device that they're currently using. Most popular web browsers offer ways to browse privately and leave no history or other private data such as cache or cookies left behind at the end of your browsing session. However, this doesn't keep the information private from an administrator or ISP.

How to Activate Incognito Browsing

The methods for activating incognito browsing differ across browsers, operating systems, and device types. Look for information on the browser of your choice in the following list.

Internet Explorer
Microsoft Corporation

Internet Explorer 11 offers incognito browsing in the form of its InPrivate Browsing mode, easily activated via the browser's Safety menu or through a simple keyboard shortcut. With InPrivate Browsing active, IE11 does not save any private data files such as cache and cookies. Browsing and search history are wiped out while you use incognito browsing in Internet Explorer. To initiate an InPrivate Browsing session:

  1. Open IE11 and click the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the browser window
  2. Hover your cursor over the Safety option in the drop-down menu and select InPrivate Browsing from the submenu that appears. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+P to turn on InPrivate Browsing.

Close the existing tabs or windows to return to standard browsing mode.

Incognito Browsing in Older Versions of IE

InPrivate Browsing is also available in several older versions of Internet Explorer, including IE10, IE9, and IE8. More »

incognito browsing in Chrome
(Photo © Google)

Desktop/Laptop Users

In Google Chrome, incognito browsing is achieved through the magic of Incognito Mode. While surfing the web incognito, your history and other private data are not saved on your hard drive. Entering incognito browsing mode in Chrome is easy to do:

  1. Click the main menu button in Chrome. It is located in the upper right corner and consists of three vertically aligned dots.
  2. Select New Incognito Window in the drop-down menu that appears. If you prefer, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N (Windows) or Command+Shift+N (Mac).

To exit Incognito Mode, just close the browser window or tabs. 

Mobile Users

If you browse the internet from an iPhone or iPad, you can activate Incognito Mode in Chrome for iOS devices. More »

incognito browsing in Firefox
(Photo © Mozilla)

Desktop/Laptop Users

Incognito browsing in Firefox involves using the Private Browsing mode, in which sensitive items such as cookies and download history are never recorded locally. Activating Private Browsing in Firefox is a simple process for Linux, Mac, and Windows users.

  1. Click the Firefox menu in the upper right corner of the browser window.
  2. Click the New Private Window button to launch Private Browsing mode.

You may not need to do all your browsing in Private Browsing mode. If you only want to open a specific link in private browsing mode while on a standard Firefox browser webpage:

  1. Right-click the link.
  2. When the context menu shows, left-click Open Link in New Private Window option.

Mobile Users

Firefox also makes it possible to enter Private Browsing mode on its mobile apps: Firefox Browser app for Android devices and Firefox for iOS Devices. More »

incognito browsing in Safari
(Photo © Apple Inc.)

Mac OS X Users

Incognito browsing in Apple's Safari browser can be accomplished by entering Private Browsing mode via the menu bar. While in Private Browsing mode, all private data including browsing history and AutoFill information is not kept, ensuring an incognito browsing experience.  To enter Private Browsing mode on a Mac:

  1. In the Safari menu bar, click on File.
  2. Select New Private Window option from the drop-down menu that appears or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Command+N.

Windows Users

Windows users can enter Private Browsing in a way similar to Mac users.

  1. Click on the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the Safari browser.
  2. Select Private Browsing in the drop-down menu that appears.
  3. Click the OK button.

iOS Mobile Device Users

People who use Safari on their iPhones or iPads can enter Incognito Browsing in the Safari for iOS app. More »

microsoft edge
© Scott Orgera.

The Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10 allows incognito browsing via its InPrivate Browsing mode, accessible through the More actions menu. 

  1. Open the Edge browser.
  2. Click the More Actions menu, which is represented by three dots.
  3. Select New InPrivate Window from the drop-down menu that appears.
More »
incognito browsing in Opera
(Photo © Opera Software)

Windows Users

Opera allows you to enable incognito browsing in your choice of a new tab or new window. Depending on your preference, the private tab or window can be accessed via the menu or through a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Click the Opera menu icon in the upper left corner of the browser window to open the side window.
  2. Select New private window from the options that appear. If you prefer, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N to begin incognito browsing.

Mac Users

Mac OS X users click on File in the Opera menu, which is located at the top of the screen and select New Incognito Window option. They can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+N. More »

dolphin browser
Mobotap, Inc.

Dolphin Browser for Android and iOS devices offers a diverse feature set for mobile device users that include incognito browsing. Activated through the main menu button, Dolphin's Private Mode ensures that browsing history and other personal data generated during your browsing session are not saved on your device after the app is closed. More »