Enable Private Browsing

Overview

All the main internet browsers have an option to enable private browsing, including: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. Private mode is a good option if you are using a public computer or you need to prevent anyone else around you seeing what you are looking at surfing the internet.

Your IP address is not hidden but your internet history is not recorded will disappear as soon as close the browser tab . If you want o hide your IP address, you need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN's are mostly paid for services).

Each browser has its own way of accessing private browsing, these are listed below.

Google Chrome

Incognito Mode, Chrome's version of private browsing, can be accessed from the settings menu at the top right of the browser, or by pushing Ctrl+Shift+N.

Google Chrome won't save your browsing history, store cookies and site data, or any personal information you use to fill out forms. Websites you visit, for instance, can still be tracked by your ISP, or employer.

Files you download remain on your hard drive and you will have to manually delete them if you want them to stay hidden.

On mobile devices, selecting “New Incognito Window” from the top right menu (3 vertical dots) when in the Android Chrome app. You’ll be able to tell you're using it by the "secret agent" icon and by the change in the colour of the app’s top bar to dark grey.

Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge

Microsoft's Edge and Internet Explorer both use 'InPrivate browsing'. You can access in the 'More' tab located in the top right corner of the browser, as with Chrome.

Your browsing data, such as cookies, form data, temporary files, and web history, will not be saved, as with Google Chrome, while any temporary data stored on your device is deleted after all private browsing tabs and windows are closed.

Meanwhile, any third-party toolbars you have installed will be disabled in this mode.

For mobile devices, select the 'More' icon, which is displayed as three small dots in the top right of the window, and then select 'New InPrivate window'.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla’s private browsing feature in FireFox is called Private Browsing mode and offers the same privacy tools as Chrome and Edge. However, FireFox offers an additional tool that other browsers don’t to make browsing even more safe, and that’s called Tracking Protection. This is said to prevent companies from tracking your browsing history across multiple sites so they can’t record your browsing habits.

There are two ways to open a new Private Window in FireFox.

  1. Click the menu button, which is presented as three horizontal bars in the top right corner of the window, and then click 'New Private Window'.
  2. Open a link in a new Private Window by right-clicking on any link and choose 'Open Link in New Private Window' from the context menu.

To open 'Private Window' on a mobile device, tap or click the menu button, which is presented as three horizontal bars in the top right corner of the window, and then select New Private Window. Once in Private Browsing mode, the browser window will display a purple mask at the top.

Safari

To enable Private Browsing in Apple’s Safari browser, simply go to File > New Private Window. A window opened in Private Browsing has a dark Smart Search field with white text.

Safari's private browsing mode also removes temporary files when you close the window. Browsing history, form data, and cookies are all wiped by default.

To access on mobile devices, click the 'Pages' icon at the bottom right of the screen, then click the 'Private' button at the bottom left of the screen. As with the desktop version, the search bar will become dark grey.

Opera

The Opera browser offers more privacy than the above browsers, its Private Mode offers a VPN connection to add another layer of secrecy to your internet browsing. It does not keep your activities totally private, but it does provide additional protection.

To enable this feature, you can either go through the menu: File > New Private Window. Or, you can use keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl+Shift+N for Windows and ⌘+Shift+N for Mac.

For mobile devices, click the 'More' icon (3 vertical dots) and select 'Private mode'. The pink coloured FAB button and the secret agent icon show that you are using private mode.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. In other words, like private browsers, a VPN helps to hide what you are doing but with the addition of hiding your IP address.

VPNs were mostly used by large companies for extra secure connections across remote sites, but in the last decade, VPNs have been become more available to the general public. There is usually a cost involved, even if it is after a free trial period or cash back. You must make sure you research the terms carefully and any hidden costs before committing, you can usually check a list of Top 10 free VPNs.

Paid VPN 'v' Free VPN

Paying for a VPN subscription usually unlocks more servers in all the locations, and usually more simultaneous connections. Free VPNs often limit the bandwidth. Less servers and less bandwidth will affect performance and reliability of the VPN which could be very irritating, but if you only want to use it occasionally, the free options can be enough.