How to Use Incognito Mode in Google Chrome

Private browsing hides your history from curious eyes

Each time you load a web page in the Google 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, 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 visited to saving site-specific preferences in small text files known as cookies. Chrome 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

Select the Chrome 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, choose New Incognito Window.

Incognito Chrome browser window focusing on New Incognito Window

To launch incognito mode using a keyboard shortcut, press Ctrl+Shift+N on Chrome OS, Linux, and Windows, or press Cmd+Shift+N on 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, displays in the main portion of the Chrome browser window. You might also notice that the graphics at the top of the window are a shade darker, and the Incognito Mode logo displays 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 entered in forms
  • Browsing history
  • Cookies and site data

Browsing incognito does not make you anonymous on the internet. It merely means your browsing session is sanitized on your own computer.