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The incognito mode may not work as you think



It does not matter which browser you prefer – Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera or any of the others – will almost certainly offer an incognito or private mode, which apparently keeps your web browsing secret. (Google Chrome still shows a hat and glasses icon when you go incognito, as if you are now in disguise.)

Incognito or private mode actually maintains some aspects of your private browsing, but it is important to be aware of what it hides and deletes from your computer or phone and what it doesn’t. Once you understand exactly what these modes do in your browser, you will know when they can be most useful.

What does the incognito mode do?

Perhaps the easiest way to think about the incognito mode is that as soon as you close the incognito window, your browser forgets that the session has never occurred: in the browsing history nothing is stored and all the cookies that are been created (those small pieces of data that some of your online actions record) are promptly deleted.

Cookies are what keep the items in Amazon̵

7;s cart even if you forget them for days, for example, and they also help sites to remember if you have visited them previously, which is why they usually annoy you to subscribe to a newsletter of the site the first time you arrive. You might notice if you visit all your favorite sites in incognito mode, you will not be recognized and you will be asked to subscribe to a whole load of newsletters and special offers from scratch.

Chrome tries to explain how incognito mode works when you open a private session.

Screenshot: David Nield through Google

This type of anonymity is where the incognito mode is effective: it’s like starting over with an empty blackboard, for better or for worse. Try uploading Twitter or Gmail and these sites won’t automatically log you in as they normally do. For the same reason, incognito mode can sometimes be a practical way to access multiple free articles from a paid site (the site will not instantly identify you as someone who has been before, although many paid sites use other methods to understand it).

Your browser will not remember where you have been, what you searched for or the information you filled out in the web forms while you were in incognito mode, it is as if Chrome, Firefox or any browser you ‘reuse has its back turned until you closes the incognito mode again.

With browsers now so personalized, you’re probably familiar with your frequently visited websites that pop up as you type in the address bar or search box. Everything you have visited or searched in incognito mode should not appear in these suggestions (with some warnings, as we will mention below). You will notice in some browsers that you cannot pull the normal trick of reopening a tab that you have just closed while you are in incognito mode: your browser has already forgotten to have ever opened it in the first place.


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