Private Browsing: What is it and What it is not

My Dad often used my laptop to check his emails. And yesterday he asked, “Why do I always see your Gmail account logged in, whenever I open mine.” 

The answer is simple. Since it’s my personal computer, I don’t sign out of my Google account. Off course, I explain the reason and show him how to use a private browser.

Now he checks his email in Chrome’s incognito window. He doesn’t have to log me out every time he opens Gmail, and I don’t have to login back, once he’s done. A win-win situation for both.

So we conclude two things, First, my dad is not a tech-savvy person (that’s understandable). Second, a little knowledge made life easier for both of us. And I am sure; it would do the same to you.

Also Read: How to Stay Anonymous on the Internet

So What Exactly is Private Browser?

It’s a feature found in most browser, whether if it’s mobile or desktop. ‘Private browser’ lets you browse the internet, without storing your browsing history or cookies. Thus hiding your browsing history from other people using the same computer.

Private Browser

But there is a big misconception about the private browser. People often think that it can make them anonymous. Which is not true. Only the people using your computer won’t see your browsing activity but the rest of the internet can.

How Private browser works?

Let say, last week you discover a funny cat video on YouTube. And now you want to show it to your friends. But the problem is, you don’t remember its name. No problem. You can still use the browser’s history to find that video. Right!

Now assume another situation. You are planning a surprise birthday party for your sibling. And you Google some party ideas and order some gifts online. But if your sibling uses the same computer, (s)he can suspect your little secret. How?

Either from the browser’s history, you forgot to delete, or from the cookies that will attract targeted ads. So to avoid such a problem we use the private browser.

However, there is a fine line between when to use the private browser and when not. But before we begin, let’s see how to enable ‘private browsing mode’ in some popular browser. (click on the image to zoom it)

how to enable private browsing

When to Use Private Browser

Private browser doesn’t store your history, cookies. So use it when:

You are buying surprise gifts for someone

Private search that you want others to see

Avoid auto-fill history on a public computer 

To log in, multiple Facebook or Google account in the same browser

Want to see search results for people not login in their Google account

By default, the extension doesn’t work in a private browser. So use it, to test your web page

Hotel and Airlines booking websites often raise the price for returning customer. They do that, by tracking your browser’s cookies. So when you suspect such activity, use the private browser

When Not to Use Private Browser

As I said, a private browser doesn’t make you anonymous. It won’t change your IP address. Your ISP, your employer, and your ISP still know who you are. Therefore never use it for ‘illegal searches’ that you don’t want them to see.

Moreover, every bookmark you save or file you download is saved like in normal browsing, so don’t use it to download the file that you don’t bother to find out.

How to Browse Web Anonymously?

There are many ways to hide your IP. For instance, you can use proxy websites, install extension ZenMate, or even use a program like TOR and UltraSurf to surf web anonymously. They are also helpful to get access to blocked websites in your colleges/office.

Read more: How to access blocked websites

Bonus Tip

Use duckduckgo, a popular search engine when using the private browser. It’s the only search engine that doesn’t track you. This won’t prevent your ISP or websites from tracking you. But at least Google won’t know what you search.


About Mrinal Saha

Mrinal is a tech geek who spends half of his day reading and writing about tech. While the nights are spent on shooting or editing YouTube videos. Feel free to geek out with him on-