- Incognito mode stops your web browser from saving data about you as you browse.
- Using incognito will disable your internet and search history, autofill information, and cookies.
- Incognito mode is available in every major web browser, often with shortcuts to access it faster.
Incognito mode — also known as “private browsing mode” — is a sneakier way to use the internet.
When you browse the internet with incognito mode on, you won’t leave any trace on the device you’re using. Your browser won’t save your browsing or search engine history, and won’t remember what sites you’ve logged into — or even what your username and password is.
It’s great if you share your computer or phone with other people, since no one else will be able to see what you’ve done once you close the window.
Quick tip: Incognito mode keeps you safe locally, but your browsing history will still be visible to your internet provider, and websites you visit will know you’re there. And if you’re using a Wi-Fi network powered by your work, school, or a business, they can track it too.
Nonetheless, incognito mode is great for enforcing privacy on a busy or shared device. Here’s how to turn on incognito mode on your computer or phone.
What is incognito mode?
Incognito mode is a mode for most browsers where the browser automatically deletes – or doesn’t remember to begin with – your browsing history and cookies for that session.
However, it is also liable to give users a false sense of security that their habits are not tracked by anyone. The reality is that your Internet Service Provider and websites that you visit in that mode are still capable of knowing your IP address and what you viewed.
The workaround for this is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but they aren’t all created equal. Thankfully, Insider has compiled a list of the best VPN services for secure and private internet access that might be of use in picking your next VPN.
Quick tip: Incognito mode is also useful if you want to sign into multiple different accounts for services without having to sign out.
How to go incognito on your Mac or PC
You can use incognito or private mode on various desktop browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox.
Incognito on Chrome
1. Open Google Chrome.
2. Click the three dot icon in the upper-right corner.
3. Click on New Incognito window from the drop-down menu. A window will open, darker colored than normal, and you’ll see a page explaining how incognito mode works.
Quick tip: With Chrome open, you can skip all the other steps and just press Ctrl + Shift + N on PC (Command + Shift + N on macOS) to open a new incognito window.
Private browsing on Safari
1. Open Safari.
2. Click File at the top-left corner of your screen.
3. Click New Private Window from the drop-down menu. The window that opens will look almost exactly the same as a regular window, but the URL bar will be colored a dark gray, and there will be a note underneath it explaining how private browsing works.
Quick tip: With Safari open, you can skip all the other steps and just press Command + Shift + N to open a new incognito window.
InPrivate mode on Microsoft Edge
1. Open Microsoft Edge
2. Click on the three dot icon in the upper-right corner.
3. Click on New InPrivate window from the drop-down menu. A window will open, with information about how “InPrivate Browsing” works.
Private mode on Firefox
1. Open Firefox.
2. Click the three lines in the upper-right corner.
3. Click New private window from the drop-down menu. A purple-themed window will open with a search bar and information about private browsing — including a page written by Mozilla about common private browsing myths.
How to go incognito on mobile
You can also use incognito mode on iOS or Android devices.
On iPhone and iPad
1. Open Safari.
2. Tap the tabs icon — the two overlapping squares in the bottom-right corner on an iPhone, or top-right on an iPad.
3. Tap the button that reads X Tabs (where X is the number of open tabs) and select Private to enter Private Browsing Mode. You can exit it in the same way, just reversed.
1. Open Chrome.
2. Tap the three dot icon in the top-right corner.
3. Tap New incognito tab.