Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, there are benefits to going incognito while online. So how does incognito work? Here’s everything you need to know.
For most of us, web browsers are what we use to search for, find, and explore websites.
Web browsers make it quick and easy to navigate the World Wide Web. However, this comes at a cost.
Web browsers and websites collect a huge amount of data about you, monitoring your browsing and search history. They can then sell this to advertisers, who are able to target you and show you personalized adverts.
If you want to protect your privacy while you’re online, you can use incognito mode on your web browsers.
How does incognito work? Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Incognito Mode?
Incognito mode is a more private way to browse the internet. It stops web browsers from saving your browsing history, collecting and saving information that you fill in on a webpage, and saving cookies.
Cookies are small files that remember your login details and preferences, send you targeted and personalized adverts, and collect information about the websites that you look at.
When you use incognito mode on your web browser, what you do will be forgotten.
How Do You Open an Incognito Web Browser?
Most web browsers have a private, incognito mode. These may have different names, depending on which web browser you are using.
It is easy to open an incognito web browser window.
Open your web browser, click on ‘File’, and choose ‘New Private/Incognito Window’. A new window will open, and you’ll be able to browse the internet with more privacy.
Alternatively, you can use keyboard shortcuts to open incognito windows in the four major web browsers.
- Chrome in Windows: Control & Shift & N in Windows
- Chrome on Mac: Command & Shift & N
- Firefox: Control & Shift & N
- Internet Explorer: Control & Shift & P
- Safari: Control & Shift & N
You’ll be able to tell when you’re working in an incognito window. There will be an icon that looks like a man in a hat; this will be in the top-left corner on Windows or the top-right corner on a Mac. Otherwise, the URL bar at the top of the web browser window will be darker in color.
You can find out more about how to search incognito here.
Reasons to Use Incognito Mode
Incognito mode can be very useful in many ways.
Cookies can be very helpful. They make your browsing more personalized, relevant, and user-friendly. For example, they save your login details, making it quicker and easier for you to sign into different accounts. They also keep track of what you’ve put in your basket when you’re online shopping.
However, cookies mean that websites can follow you around the internet, and record your personal information. Cookies allow websites to create an online profile of you and use this to show you tailored adverts based on what you’ve been searching and looking at.
This can feel frustrating and intrusive. It also means that it is more difficult to keep your browsing private, as other users may see the adverts that are delivered based on your preferences.
When you use incognito mode, web browsers delete these cookies when you log out or close the window. This keeps your personal information private.
Keep Your Browsing History Private
Incognito mode is especially useful if you’re using a public computer.
When you use a public computer, it will likely store your browsing history. When the next person uses the computer, they will be able to see every website you visited. They might even be able to log into sites using your details.
Going incognito will prevent this. When you close your window or log out, all temporary browsing data – including browsing and search history – is deleted. Whoever uses the computer next cannot access your information.
Stop Websites Tracking Your Activity
When you use a web browser, websites can track your activity. This is called web-tracking. Activating incognito mode means that websites will have difficulty finding and following your activity online.
This is particularly helpful when searching for things such as plane tickets. In a normal web browser, a website may recognize that you’ve looked at the same plane ticket multiple times while preparing to make your booking. They may show you a higher price, as they know you are interested in the ticket and they may be able to sell it to you for more money.
Using an incognito window will mean that you’re more likely to see a lower price. The website will not recognize that you have returned and are looking at the ticket again.
Sign in to Multiple Accounts
Incognito web browsers can be extremely useful when you’re trying to sign in to multiple accounts on the same site.
For example, you could log into your business email account in one incognito window and your personal email account in another incognito window. Similarly, you could sign into your business Instagram in one incognito window and your personal Instagram in another incognito window.
Disadvantages of Using Incognito Mode
There are some cons to using incognito mode that should be recognized and considered.
Incognito Mode Doesn’t Hide Everything
If you save a Bookmark or download something while using incognito, it can still be seen by the next person who uses the computer or device.
If you want to keep this private, be sure to manually delete the Bookmark or the downloaded file.
Websites Can Still Collect Data
Whether you’re using incognito or not, websites can still collect data when you sign in to an account.
For example, if you sign into a social media account online, you will no longer be anonymous. That social media account will be able to recognize you, and collect information.
Your IP Address Is Still Visible
Your IP address is the location of your computer or device when it’s connected to the Internet. Incognito mode does not hide your IP address.
This means that IP tracking is still possible. Your Internet Service Provider, employer, government, and any websites you have visited would be able to use this to track your browsing history.
You’re Not Completely Protected
Incognito mode does not offer protection against viruses, malware, or phishing attacks. It is still possible to download harmful software and, if there is spyware on your device, it can still track your activity and access your personal information.
How Does Incognito Work for You?
So, how does incognito work?
Overall, incognito mode gives you some level of privacy while you’re online. It is a helpful and user-friendly feature on most web browsers.
However, it’s important to remember that you won’t have complete security or anonymity. Consider using an incognito window alongside a virtual private network (VPN). This hides your IP address and prevents your Internet Service Provider and other parties from accessing your browsing history.
Check out our technology section for more of the latest news.