Private browsing mode in your favorite web browser has a lot of uses beyond nuking which porn sites you frequent. It’s also a great way to troubleshoot problem websites, keeps surprises secret, and save money when shopping online.
What is Private Browsing
Private browsing is a feature in all modern web browsers that deletes your online activity when you quit the app. It wipes away the history of the sites you visited during private browsing mode, and also kills the related cookies.
It won’t protect you from hackers and other jerks trying to steal you credit card and account logins when you’re on public networks. You’ll need a VPN like TunnelBear or Cloak to hide what you’re doing online at the coffee shop.
How to Enable Private Browsing in Your Favorite Web Browser
Private browsing may not be called the same thing in every web browser, but it serves the same purpose. Here’s how to enable it in your favorite desktop browser app.
To enable private in Safari, go to File > New Private Window. When you close the window your online activity will go away with it.
Firefox shares the same terminology as Safari. Go to File > New Private Window to enable private browsing. When you close the window your online activity gets deleted.
Google calls private browsing Incognito Mode. You enable it by going to File > New Incognito Window. Like the other browsers, your activity is deleted when you close the window.
Uses for Private Browsing Mode
Not sure why you want to use private browsing? Here are some ideas to get you started.
If a website you’ve previously visited isn’t loading right, or maybe you want to see how it looked before you logged in, private browsing is your friend. You’ll get to see the site without all of your cookies loading.
Google Search Results when You Aren’t Being Tracked
You can use private browsing to see Google search results that aren’t tailored to your online activity. This isn’t a perfect fix because your IP address can still be used for tracking. You’ll need to add in a VPN to really hide yourself during online searches.
Log in to Multiple Email and Social Network Accounts
Let’s say you want to log in to three Twitter accounts from your browser instead of using a Twitter client app. Private Browsing is just the ticket. You can also use this trick for connecting to multiple web-based email accounts.
Web Browsing on Public Computers
There’s no reason to leave your browsing history behind when you use school and public library computers. Use private browsing so your activity gets wiped when you quit your browser app.
Keeping online gift purchases a secret can be tough when you share a computer. Private browsing can help keep your plans a surprise.
Some online stores, services, and airlines will show you higher prices if you don’t buy right away. You can avoid that, and potentially spending a lot more than you want, by using private browsing for online shopping.