Private or “incognito” browsing lets you surf the internet without your browser remembering the sites and pages you’ve visited. There’s a long list of good reasons to browse privately in certain situations.
Do you ever log in at the library, school or other public building? Is your home computer used by several members of your family? If so, consider taking the second or two it requires to first enable private browsing. Browsing privately will keep banking, email passwords and other personal logins from showing up on the history of public or multi-user computers, prevent co-workers from reading personal email you checked at work, or keep under wraps the African safari researched as a surprise anniversary gift.
If you’re serious about research, the private browsing mode allows you to conduct a clean search, free from the influence of previous browsing history and network or friend recommendations – all things that may tilt search results in one direction or another.
Private browsing also lets you sign into multiple accounts simultaneously through multiple tabs, test websites and block any auto-filled personal information from public eyes. That could be vitally important if you’re using a family or other multi-user computer.
Another benefit is if you ever need to do “clean” screen captures for work or a project, in private mode, the screen grab won’t show your saved bookmarks and other personal info.
Be aware that private browsing doesn’t make you completely invisible. Your ISP, employer and the sites you visit will still be able to track your activity.
When in private mode, remember that the browser doesn’t save visited pages, search bar entries, forms, passwords created in private mode, cookies or cached files, but it will retain any bookmarks you create in private mode and save downloaded material.
Finally, never forget that this feature is only about privacy — not protection. It doesn’t block viruses, stop phishing attempts or prevent identity theft. Be sure to follow all your normal security procedures when in private mode.