Private Browsing limits the amount that your online browsing habits are tracked and recorded. Here’s how to enable it for every major platform.
How Private is “Private”?
Browsing the web means that you’re collecting information, and as you do that, external sites and services are collecting data on you. The practical upshot of this is that no private browsing system is entirely “private”, whether it’s a flaw in favicon storage in Safari or for that matter the issues with Private windows not automatically closing in iOS. Some extensions to desktop browsers may also cache or store information entered into private browsing sessions unless specifically instructed not to. The bottom line? Private browsing should keep sites out of your history, and can be useful if you want to sign into a service with a different name without losing saved passwords, but it isn’t a perfect privacy solution.
Safari’s Private Browsing mode is simply called “Private”, and you can access it from File>Private.
For faster access if you’re the keyboard type, the relevant shortcut is Command+Shift+N.
Google calls its private browsing mode “Incognito”, and you’ll find it under File>New Incognito Window, or by clicking on the hamburger icon on the top right hand side and selecting New Incognito Window.
For faster access if you’re the keyboard type, the relevant shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+N.
Internet Explorer’s Private Browsing, dubbed “InPrivate Browsing” can be found by clicking on Settings>Safety>InPrivate Browsing.
For faster access if you’re the keyboard type, the relevant shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+P.
Firefox’s private browsing is simply called Private Browsing, and you can access it by clicking on File>New Private Window. Like Chrome, you can also use the hamburger icon to select New Private Window from the dropdown menu there.
For faster access if you’re the keyboard type, the relevant shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+P, the same as Internet Explorer.
Opera offers the facility to create either private tabs or private windows depending on your need. Both are accessed via Tabs and Windows, selecting either New Private Tab or New Private Window respectively.
For faster access if you’re the keyboard type, the relevant shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+N, the same as Google Chrome.
To access private browsing on an iOS device, tap the new window icon, which looks like two overlapping squares. From there, tap Private to access private browsing.
Mobile Chrome uses the same method for Incognito browsing as its bigger desktop cousin, although the icon is simply three vertical dots in the top right hand corner. Tap on it, and choose “new incognito tab” from there.
On a Windows Mobile device, click on the Tabs button, and then the three dots expansion toggle. From there, choose “New inprivate tab” to privately browse.
Like Mobile Chrome, Mobile Firefox uses a similar method for its private browsing as its bigger desktop cousin. The relevant icon is once again simply three vertical dots in the top right hand corner. Tap on it, and choose “new private tab” from there.
Opera Mobile includes private browsing, although if you’re particularly privacy minded, it’s worth remembering that part of the way Opera Mini makes itself fast is with a lot of data processing on the back end that could be viewed as a privacy concern. That being said, it’s accessed via Tools>Settings>Private Browsing.
Lifehacker 101 is a regular feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?