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Chrome's Incognito Mode: What Is It Good For?

3 minute read

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Incognito Mode or “private browsing” is a privacy feature on Google Chrome that actually disables the browsing history of the browser. This privacy mode allows people to browse the Web without storing local data that could potentially be retrieved at a later date.

Using this feature also disables the storage of data in cookies and Flash cookies for Google Chrome. But what does this mean?

What this means is that third party services like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. that use cookies to track your movements across the internet to understand your interests and display ads based on those browsing habits will not follow you in the Incognito Window. This can be beneficial for several reasons that you may not be aware of.

How to open an Incognito Window

  1. Click the Chrome menu button (☰) or go up to “File”.
  2. Select “New Incognito Window” from the drop-down menu and a new Chrome window will open with the Incognito logo in the upper-left corner.
  3. Browse in the Incognito Window. Any new tabs you create in the incognito window will be Incognito as well.

Alternatively, you can simply type Command+Shift+N on your keyboard.

What is it good for?

Incognito Mode is great for viewing a page without them recording information about you or visiting websites you don’t want saved to your history. Another positive of Incognito Mode is that when cookies and extensions are disabled, the chances of a malicious app trying to steal your personal data are largely reduced.

Since you are not served ads based on your browsing activity in Incognito Mode, it can be a great way to search for gifts without tipping off the recipient. I have heard too many stories of surprise wedding engagements being spoiled by advertisements for diamond rings popping up a suspicious amount on their Facebook’s newsfeed. Incognito Window with its virtually untracked browsing experience is a perfect solution for things like this.

What is it bad for?

When someone switches into the incognito tab, Chrome itself tells them, “Going incognito doesn’t hide your browsing from your employer, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit.” This means, your internet provider will still have a list of all the websites you visited and obviously your browsing habits are never quite protected from the person standing right behind you.

As for the websites you visit, they collect information from you via things called cookies, and in Incognito Mode these cookies are erased after each session. It would be possible for a site to connect the dots via your IP address and match your incognito browsing with your personal profile. But this would be both difficult and slightly unethical. Based on most tests I have done, I don’t seem to get any advertisements served to me based on sites I have visited in Incognito so you should be all good there.

What do you use Incognito Mode for? Let us know in the comments!


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