Incognito mode

Updated: 11/16/2019 by Computer Hope
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Alternatively called private browsing, InPrivate Browsing, or a private window, Incognito mode is an Internet browser setting that prevents browsing history from being stored. Normally, when you visit any web page, any text, pictures, and cookies required by the page are stored locally on your computer. Additionally, any searches or forms that are filled out may be stored in autocomplete fields. Incognito mode forgets this data when you close the browser window, or doesn't store it at all.

Tip To exit Incognito mode, close the browser window.

How safe is private mode?

Private browsing is not meant as a way to be completely anonymous on the Internet. As mentioned earlier, it's an easy and quick way to not log your browsing history or save (cache) any web pages, images, or cookies on your computer as you are browsing. Below are some additional ideas to consider while using private mode.

Other monitoring software

If your computer has monitoring software, like parental controls or keyloggers, they can still capture and monitor everything you are doing, even if you are in private mode. Monitoring can also be done at the network level, which means any school or corporate monitoring that runs on the network could also capture any private browsing.

Your IP address

Although nothing is stored on your computer in private mode, you are still not anonymous on the Internet. Each page you visit still recognizes your IP address. If someone could view your IP address history for legal purposes, an ISP (Internet service provider), website, and a search engine server log could be used to track you and the pages you visit.

Add-ons and plugins

Any add-on or plugin you have installed in the browser could be storing information on your browsing habits. For example, early versions of the Adobe Flash plugin allowed cookies to be saved in Adobe Flash even when in private mode.

People standing behind you

It may seem obvious, but anyone shoulder surfing can see what you are viewing in private mode.

Additional security concerns

In the paper "" by Rodrigo Ruiz, it demonstrates getting data from computers browsing in private mode.

Security terms