For all of its strengths, one persistent weakness of the internet is that it leaves its users quite exposed. Most mainstream web browsers — including Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera
, as well as Android and iPhone mobile browsers — are equipped with a private browsing
feature (sometimes called "incognito mode"), which allows you to surf the web without worrying about leaving traces behind. Your browser is able to do this by disabling your browsing history and the web cache, effectively erasing your footprint from the pages that you visit.
If you are curious about how to turn on privacy mode on your browser, this FAQ should help you out.
Although your computer does not keep any record of your browsing history when using privacy mode, your ISP or your employer can always find the pages that you have visited.
When using private browsing, Firefox will not retain any browsing, search, download, or webpage history; it will also ignore cookies and temporary Internet files. However, files downloaded and bookmarks added will be preserved.
First, launch Firefox. Next, go to Tools
> Start incognito Window
Launch Internet Explorer
, and go to Tools
> InPrivate Browsing
You can also enable InPrivate Browsing from the new page tab or by simply pressing CTRL + ALT + P
When you select InPrivate Browsing, Internet Explorer opens a new window. The protection provided by InPrivate Browsing is active only during the period this window is open. You can launch as many tabs as you want in that window. They are all protected by InPrivate browsing. However, if you open another window using IE, it will not be protected by InPrivate browsing. To end your InPrivate Browsing session, close the browser window.
When you surf using InPrivate Browsing, Internet Explorer stores information such as cookies and temporary Internet files for the Web pages you are visiting continue to work properly. However, at the end your InPrivate Browsing session, this information is deleted.
To set your browser to private, open Google Chrome
and click the menu icon (three vertical dots) at the top right of the browser window. Next, select New Incognito Window
You can also make your internet session private in Incognito Mode in Chrome by pressing CTRL + Shift + N
on your keyboard.
To use Private Browsing in Safari, launch the browser and select File
> New Private Window
To turn on Private Browsing on your iPhone
, or iPod touch
, open Safari, then tap the tabs icon. Next, tap Private
To launch a private tab in Opera, launch your browser and select File
> New Private Tab
You can also ctrl-click the tab bar and select New Private Tab
from the drop-down menu that appears.
If you would prefer to open a private window, instead of selecting New Private Tab
, choose New Private Window
If you are looking for more privacy than your browser can provide, you can also download software to take care of deleting your internet history. Some effective programs include Ccleaner
, Glary Utilities
, Wise Registry Cleaner
, and Free History Eraser.