All of the major players in the web browser category come with a feature called “Incognito Mode” or “Private Mode”.
What is Incognito?
Privacy mode or “private browsing” or “incognito mode” is a privacy feature in some web browsers to disable browsing history and the web cache. This allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date.
It hides all the web activities of one user on a single, shared personal computer by automatically deleting all the browsing history, search history and all cookies at the end of the session.
Okay. But what is its use?
It is a common misconception that Incognito Mode is only useful for people to hide their online activities while viewing adult content. But there are actually many practical uses of Incognito mode which are surely not embarrassing.
- Multiple Accounts:
Most websites only allow you to login to one account at a time but sometimes it is possible that you might need to access two different on the same website simultaneously. For example, most of us have multiple email accounts so you can access one account normally like you do while opening the second account with Incognito mode in a second window.
- Privacy on public computers:
Many times we use public computers like the ones at a library, cafe, airports, etc to access your web accounts. In such a case, you don’t want that public computer to store your browsing history and cookies which someone can access later. If you forget to log out of an account, then someone can access it when they visit that website. So, it’s better to browse in Incognito mode making sure all of your history and cookies are deleted automatically once you close it.
- Avoiding Paywalls:
We all run into websites which have hidden nuisances in the form of paywalls which pop up after you have viewed a certain amount of content on the website or used it for a certain amount of time when the paywall pops up asking you to pay to continue getting access to it.
To avoid such paywalls and use such websites infinitely, you can use Incognito mode so that your session will be automatically deleted on closing it every time making that website think you are a new user every time you access it using Incognito mode.
- Unbiased Search:
Nowadays, all websites including search engines like Google track your online behaviour using cookies due to which they are able to provide search results based on your preferences, likings and search history. But what if you want an unbiased result while searching something? Simple. Use Incgonito Mode.
Also, you can use a search engine like DuckDuckGo which doesn’t track it’s users. Visit this to learn more.
NOTE: This point is not always true nowadays because many major websites track you even when you are not visiting their site. For example, Facebook has recently started tracking people who are not Facebook users also.
Sounds good. But how do I use Incognito mode in my web browser?
It’s pretty easy. In most modern web browsers, click on “File” in the top menu bar to open a dropdown menu. There will be an option named “New Private Window”. Click that to open a new browser window in Incognito mode.
There are also keyboard shortcuts to open Incognito mode in most web browsers.
For Google Chrome: (Press CTRL(command) + SHIFT + N) or (ALT + F Then press I) to access Incognito Mode
For Mozilla Firefox: (Press CTRL(command) + SHIFT + P) or (ALT + F Then press W) to access Private Browsing
For Internet Explorer: (Press CTRL(command) + SHIFT + P) or (ALT + T + I) to access inPrivate Browsing
NOTE: You can use incognito mode in major mobile web browser applications also. To turn on incognito browsing, simply visit your mobile browser’s “Settings” page.
Cool. I will start browsing privately!
But wait a minute! Incognito mode doesn’t mean complete privacy!
Yes, it does hide you web activities from other users on the same shared personal computer but it doesn’t hide your activities from everyone else in the internet.
Private Browsing doesn’t make you anonymous on the Internet. Your Internet service provider, employer, or the sites themselves can still track what pages you visit. Private Browsing also doesn’t protect you from keyloggers or spyware that may be installed on your computer.
So even though YOU can’t see your web activity….
…..the rest of the internet can!