How to Use Incognito Mode in Google Chrome

Private browsing hides your history from curious eyes

Each time you load a webpage in Google's Chrome browser on your computer, potentially sensitive data is stored on your hard drive. Although this data is used to enhance your browsing experience going forward, it also can be personal in nature. If other people use your computer, you can keep things private by browsing in Incognito Mode.

About Incognito Mode

Person in trench coat and hat using Incognito mode on their computer
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

Data files are used by your computer for a variety of purposes, ranging from keeping a history of the sites you've visited, to saving site-specific preferences in small text files known as cookies. Chrome's Incognito Mode removes most private data components so they are not left behind at the end of the current session.

How to Activate Incognito Mode in Chrome

Incognito Chrome browser window focusing on New Incognito Window

Click on Chrome's main menu button, represented by three vertically placed dots and located in the upper right corner of the browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the choice labeled New Incognito Window.

You can also launch incognito mode by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL-SHIFT-N on Chrome OS, Linux and Windows or COMMAND-SHIFT-N in Mac OS X or macOS. You can also open a new incognito window with the File menu on a Macintosh.

The Incognito Window

A new window opens declaring "You've gone incognito." A status message, as well as a brief explanation, is provided in the main portion of Chrome's browser window. You might also notice that the graphics at the top of the window are a shade darker, and the Incognito Mode logo displayed in the upper right corner. While this logo is displayed, all history and temporary internet files are not recorded and stored.

What Incognito Browsing Means

When you browse privately, no one else who uses your computer can see your activity. Bookmarks and downloads are saved, however.

While you are in Incognito Mode, Chrome does not save:

  • Information you enter into forms
  • Your browsing history
  • Cookies and site data