How to Use Chrome’s Incognito Feature to Protect Your Privacy

Privacy should be a huge concern whenever you go on the internet, but most people don’t realize how much information of there is being collected, used, and sold. There are a lot of things you can do to protect your privacy, but one simple step is to use private browsing. Chrome’s version of private browsing is oh so coolly called incognito mode, and that is the browser we will focus in in this article. Stay tuned for additional articles about private browsing in your other commonly used internet browsers.

What is incognito?

Incognito mode is a type of private browsing. Using Chrome in incognito turns off some data collection such as your browsing history, site data and cookies, and information entered in forms. (No auto fill in incognito). This can help prevent other users on your computer (or people you are sharing a screen with later) from seeing URLs from websites you visited while incognito pop up as auto-complete or in your recently visited sites.

I just typed e and an embarrassing thing about me that I recently Googled popped up (is the embarrassing thing that I spelled embarrassing wrong?

It’s not just for people who can see your screen, however. Your private data can be shared with websites “to improve your experience”. This means you are more likely to see ads for things related to your browsing history. Did you click on that link for a cute pair of boots? Guess what Facebook now wants to sell you.

If you were even a little curious about dog DNA tests, ads won’t let you forget it.

Why use incognito private browsing?

Besides targeted ads that are more influential on lightening your wallet than a random ad, information on your history can affect things like prices for airfare and flights. Some websites use your data of how likely you are to buy an item, and increase the price the next time you visit. Without browsing privately, you may see content more suited to your interests which can be good, but also may provide a narrower viewpoint.

Not all Facebook suggestions are annoying. I do love dogs.

Some specific uses for going incognito besides the one you are thinking of right now are when shopping (especially around the holidays), searching medical symptoms (is this supposed to smell like that?), or when logging into an account on someone else’s computer. Once you close the incognito window, the cached items and cookies are deleted, which includes signing you out of any sites logged into. Anything you download or bookmark, however, will remain.

No need when you use incognito.

Keep in mind that incognito mode only alleviates some privacy concerns, such as using your browsing history to influence your ads and some pricing tools, but isn’t totally private. Some data is still going through to websites, and your activity might be visible to your internet service provider, your work/school, and the authorities. Private browsing isn’t a get out of jail free card. Obey the law.

How to open incognito browsing on your computer

Let’s start with opening incognito mode using the Chrome computer application. First open a regular window in chrome. To use this on your computer browser, you can click the vertical dot dot dot to open options. Then select “New incognito window”.

You can also open an incognito window using the keyboard short-cut : ctrl+shift+n on Windows or ⌘+shift+n on a Mac.

You can also use Incognito mode to open a link from a non-incognito text. Just right click the link and you will have the option to open it in an incognito window.

Browsing incognito on mobile

The mobile version of Chrome also has a dot dot dot for options where you can open an incognito tab. Alternatively, some phones have the option to long press the Chrome icon to open a new tab or new incognito tab.

One interesting thing I noticed when making this article is that my phone won’t allow me to take screenshots of my private browsing window. Just one more protection you get from incognito mode.

More ways to protect your privacy

There are more privacy options to explore in Chrome’s settings to help control privacy on a more granular level. For more on protecting your privacy, check out our security section of the knowledge base. There are lots of articles including determining what has access to your Facebook and Google accounts. Or if you are more of a visual/conversational learner, you can watch our president and CIO discuss privacy best practices on our YouTube page.

Valiant Technology is the award-winning managed service provider to innovative industries in New York.

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