If you want to browse to websites without leaving a trail, there is a special mode called “Incognito” when using the Google Chrome browser. Any website you visit while in the incognito mode will not be recorded as part of your browsing history. The incognito mode also prevents your browser from storing any cookies or recording the fact that you downloaded a file. Essentially, the incognito mode leaves no trace whatsoever of any website you’ve visited while browsing.
To enable this mode while in Chrome, you can hit the Ctrl+Shift+N (Windows) or ⌘-Shift-N (Mac). Or, you can simply search for the wrench icon in the upper right side of an already open browser window, pull down the menu and select the “New incognito window” item.
What’s the advantage of this little trick? If you’re using a PC that other people may be using, it might be prudent to cover your tracks so they can’t see what sites you browsed. Perhaps you’re browsing sites related to a surprise birthday present and don’t want to give away the secret. There are other reasons I’m sure you can think of as well.
Keep in mind the following issues when browsing in incognito mode:
- If you download any new cookies, they will be erased when you close the browser window. Therefore, don’t expect that a website will remember you when you re-visit it the next day. For example, if you’ve filled a shopping cart but not purchased the products, the website will not remember you automatically when you re-visit it the next day, whether or not your are in incognito mode. If you already have a user account on that website, however, it will remember you after you login, so all is not necessarily lost.
- Others will be able to see any files that you’ve downloaded, unless you store them in a private area on your PC. However, the browser will not record the fact that you downloaded that particular file, so it may be difficult to trace where it came from.
- When you’re in incognito mode, a shady looking character icon in the upper left corner will signify this mode, reminding you that you’ve gone incognito.
- When you open a new tab, the new window will also be incognito.
- Incognito mode will NOT make you anonymous on the Internet. Any cookies already on your PC will still be visible to websites that you visit. Further, the incognito mode will NOT prevent websites from recording the fact that you visited them. In other words, the incognito mode can only prevent history from being recorded on your own PC, but it cannot prevent your history from being recorded on the servers at the websites that you visited.
- If you have a teenage son (like me) who is savvy enough to know about the incognito mode, he will be able to hide any (ahem) “creative” websites he might visit when you’re not around. In other words, he can hide his browsing history from you, so you’ll have to rely on other methods if you want to monitor his online behavior.
- Incognito mode does not provide any additional protection from viruses or malware. It has nothing to do with security. You are neither more nor less secure when using incognito mode.
Incognito mode is probably most useful if you’re using a PC that others can access, and, for whatever reason, you don’t want them to follow your trail. It may also be useful if you’re visiting a website that may download questionable cookies onto your PC or perhaps redirect your browser to places that you don’t want to become part of your PC’s record. Granted, these types of situations are not very typical, but nevertheless, it’s nice to know this mode is available in those situations where you need it.
Mr. Dirt Sanches
written by jack, January 07, 2012