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Compare Private Browsing Features in Different Browsers

Updated on September 20, 2009

Browsing history is used by the browser to enhance your experience on the Internet. When the browser remembers a website you previously visited or the username and password for your favorite web site, this information is considered your history.

However, there may be times when you do not want other users of your computer to see or access such information. For example, if a friend or family member shares your computer, you might prefer for them not to be able to see what websites you've visited or what files you've downloaded.

Different browser has slightly different features of private browsing.

Internet Explorer

In IE, it's called "InPrivate Browsing". InPrivate Browsing enables you to surf the web without leaving a trail in Internet Explorer.

You can start InPrivate Browsing from the New Tab page, or by pressing CTRL+ALT+P.

When you start InPrivate Browsing, Internet Explorer opens a new window. The protection that InPrivate Browsing provides is only in effect during the time that you use that window. You can open as many tabs as you want in that window, and they will all be protected by InPrivate Browsing. However, if you open another browser window, that window will not be protected by InPrivate Browsing.

To end your InPrivate Browsing session, close the browser window.

InPrivate doesn't clear any history or information about toolbars or browser extensions that is stored on your computer. Internet Explorer disables all toolbars and extensions by default in an InPrivate Browsing window.

InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. IE also provide InPrivate Filtering, which helps prevent website content providers from collecting information about sites you visit.

Firefox Private Browsing Icon
Firefox Private Browsing Icon
IE Inprivate
IE Inprivate

Google Chrome

I don't know if "incognito" is a big word for English native speakers. Anyway, Chrome use this word which may parallel with InPrivate.

Windows keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+N. Or follow these steps to turn on the incognito mode:

Click the wrench menu .

Select New incognito window.

A new window will open with the incognito icon (a man in stealthy clothing: hight hat, dark glasses, and high collar coat, and it's white!) in the top left corner. You can continue browsing as normal in the other window. You can also right-click any link and select Open link in incognito window.


Firefox 3.5 and later provide "Private Browsing," which allows you to browse the Internet without Firefox retaining any of data about which sites and pages you have visited.

Click on the Tools menu and select Start Private Browsing, or use windows keyboard shortcut : Ctrl+Shift+P.

To stop Private Browsing, select Tools > Stop Private Browsing, or close Firefox.

There is a setting in the OptionsPreferences window which will automatically enable Private Browsing whenever you start Firefox.

Firefox Private Browsing icon is a mask.


Safari also privide Private Browsing, but it dosen't open another window or tab window, and there is no special icon for you to mark the private browsing window, either.

To turn on private browsing, Choose Action menu > Private Browsing. Safari doesn't provide a windows keyboard shortcut.

To turn off private browsing, Choose Action menu > Private Browsing to remove the checkmark. Close any windows you've used to view private information. If you don't close the windows, other users can view those pages using the Back and Forward buttons.

If you forgot to turn on private browsing, After you finish browsing, choose Action menu > Reset Safari.


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