How to Turn on Private Browsing

Most of us have our ‘go-to’ browser for searching the web. Whatever your browser of choice and whether you use mobile or desktop, most of the major web browsers offer a private mode.


This easy-to-use setting helps protect your browsing history from others.


Below are the most popular desktop and mobile browsers in the US today and their private mode offerings.

  • Google Chrome: Incognito
  • Safari: Private Browsing
  • Mozilla Firefox: Private Browsing
  • Samsung Internet: Secret Mode
  • UC: Incognito Mode
  • Opera: Private Tab/Private Window
  • Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge: InPrivate Browsing

Many people overestimate the level of protection they receive when they switch to private mode.


In this post you’ll learn:

What information do browsers normally collect?

When you browse normally, without any privacy settings switched on, your browser collects and stores lots of information about your activity. This includes:

  • Websites and specific pages you visit
  • Data submitted through forms
  • Downloaded files
  • Saved passwords
  • Cached (or saved) webpages

The benefit of this is you can speed up how long it takes you to complete tasks when you log on again.


For instance, by offering suggestions to help you autocomplete forms, prompting you with previously visited websites in your search bar or returning faster load times for previously viewed web pages.

What does private browsing do?

Having your web browser store information in this way can be a helpful time saver. However, there will likely be occasions when you’d rather give up these time savers in favor of more privacy, especially on a shared computer.


This is the main function of private browsing. You can turn it on so you can hide your previous web browsing activity from anyone else with access to the same computer. If you want to make sure your other half doesn’t stumble across the surprise birthday gift you’ve been researching for weeks, then you need to become familiar with this setting.  


When you’re in private mode, your web browser won’t store any of the information listed above. Search history, browsing history and cookies will all be erased once you exit your session.


Other reasons to use private mode in your browser include:

  • If you want to view search results not biased by your past search activity
  • If you want to log in to multiple accounts at once (e.g. two different Google accounts)
  • If you want to research a delicate topic you’d rather keep private
  • If using a shared computer in a library or internet café

How to private browse

Since Apple’s Safari became one of the first to include it as a feature back in 2005, private mode has become a standard feature in most of today’s popular browsers, both on mobile and desktop.

Starting with your desktop, here’s a rundown on how to switch on private browsing on the various desktop browsers out there.


How to private browse on Chrome on desktop

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click the three dots in the top right corner of the window
  3. Click New incognito window
  4. A new incognito window will appear


How to turn on private browsing on Safari on Mac

  1. Open the Safari app
  2. Select File and click New Private Window
  3. A new private window will appear


How to private browse on Firefox on desktop

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click the menu button in the top right corner
  3. Click New Private Window
  4. A new private browsing window will open


How to private browse on Opera on desktop

  1. Open Opera
  2. Click the menu button (or File on Mac)
  3. Click New private window
  4. A new private window will open


How to private browse on Internet Explorer on desktop

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Click the gear button or Tools menu
  3. Click InPrivate Browsing
  4. A new InPrivate window will appear


How to browse privately in Edge

  1. Open Edge
  2. Click the three dots on the top right of the screen
  3. Click New InPrivate window
  4. A new InPrivate window will appear


It’s also possible to turn on private mode on your mobile browser whether you’re using iOS or Android.


How to turn on private browsing on iPhone

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone
  2. Tap the new page button
  3. Tap Private
  4. Tap Done


How to turn on private browsing on Chrome on Android

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Tap the three dots on the top right of the screen
  3. Tap New incognito tab
  4. A new incognito tab will appear


How to turn on private browsing on Samsung Internet on Android

  1. Open Samsung Internet Browser
  2. Tap the Tabs icon at the bottom of the screen
  3. Tap More. If this doesn’t appear, skip to step 4
  4. Tap New Secret Tab or Turn on Secret Mode


How to private browse on Firefox on Android

  1. Open Firefox app
  2. Tap the Menu button on the top right of the screen or below the screen on some devices
  3. Tap New Private Tab
  4. A new private tab will appear


How to get out of private browsing

Exiting private mode is as simple as closing your private browser window. Next time you open your browser, the regular browser will be your default. This is until you decide to go through the steps to open an incognito or private window again.

Is private browsing mode really private?

Private browser settings are a quick and easy way to add a layer of privacy to your web browsing when you want to shield it from others who might use the same device.


However, private browsing will not hide your activity from:

  • the websites you visit
  • whoever provides the internet connection such as your employer or school
  • your internet service provider (ISP)
  • cybercriminals

Enter the VPN


While private browsing might offer you privacy from others using your device, a VPN or Virtual Private Network, gives you privacy from the outside world.


A VPN encrypts your data, allowing you to create a private and secure connection through which you send and receive information as you use the internet. Even if third-parties manage to somehow hack into this secure connection, the fact that your information is also encrypted means they won’t be able to read it.


Connecting to a VPN involves connecting to a secure server somewhere else in the world and routing your data through this. In effect, your device uses the IP address of that VPN server, thus hiding your own.


Check out our earlier piece titled ‘Do I Really Need a VPN?’ for much more on the benefits of using a VPN.

Using a VPN with Private Browsing

A VPN accomplishes a lot when it comes to ensuring your online security. However, it doesn’t provide some of the features offered by private browsing such as preventing your browser from saving website cookies or the sites you visit.


Therefore, private browsing paired with a trusted VPN is the perfect combination to create online security to prevent anyone, from housemates to hackers from accessing your private information.


Learn more about Clario’s trusted and secure VPN now.

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