Frequently Asked Questions > Online Safety

How to browse privately/incognito in major browsers

All of today’s major web browsers—Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari—offer a feature that provides a private/incognito browsing window and deletes the browsing history on your computer after you close it. (To open a private window, go to the File menu and look near the New Window option.) These windows can help reduce the amount of information collected on you. 

How to start Google Chrome Incognito (CTRL+SHIFT+N)

Google calls its private browsing feature Incognito. To open a new Incognito window, click the "Customize and control Google Chrome" button in the top right corner of the browser window that looks like three dots. Then, choose "New incognito window."

A new window will open, explaining what incognito browsing means: Google Chrome does not save your browsing history, cookies and site data, and the information entered in forms (e.g., addresses, passwords, etc.). Any files you download or bookmarks you create are kept. Lastly, Incognito disables Google Chrome extensions, but you can manually enable them to work in this mode as well.  In Google Chrome you can recognize an Incognito window by its logo in the top-right corner: an image of a person in disguise (hat and dark glasses).

How to start Mozilla Firefox in Private Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

To enable Private Browsing in Mozilla Firefox, click or tap the "Open menu" button in the top right side of the browser window. It has the shape of three parallel lines stacked on top of each other. Then, choose "New Private Window."

A new private window is opened with content blocking enabled. When browsing in Firefox private mode, it does not keep your browsing history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. But, the files that you download and the bookmarks you make are saved. Firefox explicitly warns you that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or employer can still track the pages that you visit, the other browsers will not.  Another difference is that content blocking is enabled by default, so that online trackers do not collect information about your browsing behavior.  To see if your current Mozilla Firefox window has Private Browsing enabled, look for the purple mask icon in the top right corner of the browser window. If shown, you are browsing privately.

How to start Microsoft Edge in InPrivate browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

Microsoft Edge uses the same name for its private browsing mode as the old Internet Explorer: InPrivate browsing. To start a new browser window in this mode, click the "Settings and more" button in the top-right corner. It looks like three dots. In the menu that is shown, choose "New InPrivate window."  You can tell that you are using InPrivate browsing in Microsoft Edge by looking at the top-left corner of the app window. There, you see the InPrivate label in a blue square.

How to start Opera in Private Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+N)

To open a private browsing window in Opera, click the "Customize and control Opera" button found on the top left side of the browser window. Then, click "New private window."  A new Private Browsing window opens, giving you some information about this browsing mode. You are also informed that you can turn on the built-in VPN for more privacy. This button is found on the left side of the address bar. Extensions are also disabled in this mode.  To check if you are Private Browsing in Opera, watch for the sunglasses logo on the left side of the tab you are on.

How to start Internet Explorer in InPrivate browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

Microsoft also uses the term InPrivate for private browsing in Internet Explorer (IE 8 and newer). To enable theis mode in the desktop version of Internet Explorer,  open the Tools menu by clicking the little gear icon on the top-right. Then, hover over Safety to open the corresponding submenu and click InPrivate Browsing.  Internet Explorer opens a new browser window, where the notification is displayed: "InPrivate is turned on. InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session." The browser does not store cookies, temporary Internet files, the browsing history, and other data. By default, it will also disable extra toolbars and extensions you have installed in Internet Explorer.To check if you are using InPrivate browsing, look at the left side of the address bar. If you see the logo "InPrivate" at the top left of your screen, InPrivate browsing is turned on in Internet Explorer.