How to Browse Privately in any Browser and on any Device

Private browsing means surfing the internet without your web browser storing details of your online search history. You see, your browser usually saves a lot of data about what you’ve been doing when using the internet, but turning on the private mode will prevent it from doing so.


Most modern desktop and mobile browsers have options such as this:

  • 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


However, internet users tend to overestimate the level of protection the private mode offers. So, we’re here to help you understand everything you need to know about what private browsing does and doesn’t do.


In this post, you’ll learn:

Why you should use private browsing

When browsing normally, your web browser collects large amounts of information about your behavior, including:

  • Browsing history (details of any visited websites and webpages)
  • Data submitted through forms (email, usernames, phone numbers)
  • Site data and cookies
  • Any permissions you’ve given websites (such as access to your camera or mic)


Well then, what does private browsing do to prevent this data from being collected? If you turn on the private mode, your browser will erase this information as soon as you exit.


Private browsing is useful when you don’t want someone else to see your search history. This could be because you’re:

  • Using a public or shared computer, maybe at a library, at work, or in an internet cafe
  • Shopping for a gift and you want to keep it a secret from anyone who has access to the device you’re using
  • Researching a delicate topic, like a medical issue, and you don’t want someone stumbling upon these details
  • Booking flights or hotels if you don’t want the price to “magically” change the next time you visit these websites
  • Looking for an unbiased search: searches in the private mode will not be influenced by your past browsing history

How to turn on private browsing

Apple’s Safari was the first to include private browsing as a feature back in 2005. Today, private browsing is a standard option on mobile and desktop browsers. Let’s start with popular desktop browsers and see how to browse privately on each of them.

How to browse privately with Chrome on Windows & macOS

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the window
  3. Click New Incognito Window

How to privately browse on macOS with Safari

  1. Open the Safari app
  2. Select File and click New Private Window

How to browse privately with Firefox on Windows & macOS

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click the menu button in the upper right corner of the window
  3. Click New Private Window

Opera private browsing on Windows & macOS

  1. Open Opera
  2. Click the menu button (or File on Mac)
  3. Click New Private Window

How to browse in the private mode with Internet Explorer on Windows & macOS

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Click the gear button or the Tools menu
  3. Click InPrivate Browsing

How to search privately with Edge on Microsoft & macOS

  1. Open Edge
  2. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the window
  3. Click New InPrivate Window

You can also turn on the private mode on mobile browsers for both iOS or Android devices.

How to browse in the private mode with Safari on an iPhone

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

How to browse privately on Android with Chrome

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the window
  3. Tap New Incognito Tab

How to browse privately on Android with Samsung Internet

  1. Open Samsung Internet Browser
  2. Tap the Tabs icon at the bottom of the screen
  3. Tap More if necessary or skip to Step 4
  4. Tap New Secret Tab or Turn on Secret Mode

How to browse privately on Android with Firefox

  1. Open the Firefox app
  2. Tap the Menu button in the upper right corner of the window (below the window on some devices)
  3. Tap New Private Tab


How to get out of the private browsing mode

Exiting the private mode is as easy as closing your private browser window. Next time the browser should open in normal mode. Yes, this means you’ll have to open an incognito or private window every time you want to keep your browsing to yourself.


Some browsers might have the option to turn it off without closing the tab or window. For example, to exit private browsing mode on Safari (iPhone), tap Private followed by Done — just as you would to turn it on.

How private is private browsing?

Private browsing is a quick and easy way to add a layer of privacy to your web browsing, but only if you want to shield it from other people. It doesn’t mean you are browsing the internet anonymously. Private web browsing only restricts what the browser stores on the local machine, whether it be a computer or phone.


What does this mean?

  • Any websites you visit can still identify you by your IP address
  • If you’re using a machine at work or a school, the local server will have a record of your browsing history
  • Your internet service provider (ISP) has a record of your web activity
  • It provides no protection against cyberattacks over public networks, like a Wi-Fi hotspot for example

A VPN protects you when private browsing can’t

Private browsing offers you privacy on your device, but a VPN (Virtual Private Network) provides privacy from the outside world.


A VPN encrypts your data, allowing you to send and receive information using a secure connection. Even if someone hacks into this, they won’t be able to make sense of the encrypted information.


Using a VPN involves connecting to a secure server somewhere in the world and routing your data through it. In effect, any website you access will see the IP address of the secure server instead of yours.


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

Using a VPN with private browsing

However, a VPN doesn’t provide all of the features offered by private browsing, such as preventing your browser from saving website cookies or your search history.


This means combining private web browsing with a trusted VPN is the best solution for all-round online security. While nothing is foolproof in the digital world, such measures should help keep your data relatively safe.


Yes, now would be a good time to finally get that VPN you’ve always talked about. Fortunately, Clario’s trusted and secure VPN is just one click away. Enjoy safe and private browsing!


Can my search history be seen while browsing privately?

No. Your browser will delete your search history as soon as you exit the session (when you close the private tab or window). However, the browser might keep a record while you’re logged in. So always close the private tab as soon as you’re done.


Is private browsing really private?

Private browsing only ensures your web browser doesn’t store your search history. But there are other services keeping track of your internet activity. For example, your ISP  as well as any accounts you’re logged into — like Google — also track your search history. Read more about the best ways to clear your internet history in our blog post here.


How do I delete all traces of my internet browsing history?

The private mode keeps your web browser from storing your internet search history. Using a VPN will ensure your search history remains secure from any websites you visit and your ISP. Any permissions you provided to services such as Google to track your online activity will have to be dealt with separately.


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