Incognito Browsing

Why on earth would you ever want to browse incognito, or “privately” as it’s also called? Isn’t that only for people looking to do naughty or even illegal things online? No, not at all!

There are plenty of perfectly valid reasons you may on occasion want to search for something online and not leave a trail behind. We’ll look at some of the advantages of choosing an incognito browsing session as well as the incredibly easy way to do so.

What is Private Mode or Incognito Browsing?

At their most basic, these features promise that they won’t record visited sites to the browsing history, save cookies that show you’ve been to nor remember login details like passwords used during sessions. At the same time, private browsing won’t prevent Internet service providers and the proper authorities (as well as employers if you are using your company’s network) from being able to trace your steps. Meanwhile some of the larger advertising companies (ie Google) have been caught and sued for continuing to track your movements online so they can chase you with related ads.

So why bother?

You can improve your protection from advertisers and any curious person who may have access to your computer by both choosing private browsing and adding “anti-trackers” or advanced privacy features of your chosen browser. I have definitely noticed that opening a search on an incognito tab has eliminated being fed related ads.

It is also handy when you are trying to price compare, say flights. Airlines are notorious for bumping up the prices shown when they see you are a recently returning website visitor. Don’t believe it? Try simultaneous searching with a friend, one of you having checked before and one not. You’re likely to find as I have on multiple occasions, much lower prices shown to the new visitor.

Likewise there are many times you’d just like to find answers to your query, like your dog’s itching, without being then inundated with ads for pet insurance, dog food and the like. And those are ads with adorable dogs….imaging when you start looking up information for human ailments. Yikes. Better to do so incognito.

How to Browse Privately in Chrome

Chrome is by far the most popular browser with over 70% of the world using it, so we’ll start here.

The easiest way to open an Incognito window is with the keyboard shortcut combination, holding down 3 keys in the following order: Ctrl-Shift-N if you are using the Windows operating system.

If you are using a Mac instead hold these keys in order: Command-Shift-N .

Another way is to click on the menu on the upper right – it’s the three vertical dots (circled below) –  and select New Incognito Window from the drop-down list (see arrow below).

Here is what you’ll see and what Chrome promises it will and won’t still do in an Incognito search:

Type your search query as you would normally into the address bar (see blue arrow above). You can be sure you’re in private mode because the screen is dark, and you’ll see the word “Incognito” on the top right (underlined, above).

Once a tab in Incognito has been taken you to your desired website address, Chrome continues to remind you that you’re in Incognito mode by the dark background of the address bar and window title (see example below).

How to Browse Privately in Microsoft Edge

Edge is Microsoft’s browser and replaced “Internet Explorer” several years ago. It is the standard for Windows 10 and can also now be used with the Mac operating system.

On the keyboard, if using Windows, hold down these keys in order: Ctrl-Shift-N. If instead you are using a Mac computer, hold down these keys: Command-Shift-N to open an InPrivate window.

As with Chrome, an alternative way to get there is to click on the menu at the upper right – it’s three dots arranged horizontally this time– and choose New InPrivate window from the menu.

Edge is specific about what they will and won’t track in InPrivate mode, and the search page looks like this:

As before with Chrome, simply type your search query in the address bar as you normally would.

And there you have it, easy to search incognito. Don’t worry, you won’t be “stuck” in that mode. Simply open a new search tab using the “+” as you normally would in order to browse normally again.

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