Google Making It More Difficult for Sites to Block Incognito Mode in Chrome

Sometimes you just want to browse privately and don’t want a record of where you’ve been and don’t want ads to start popping up that are related to whatever you were searching for.

For this reason many browsers have some type of private browsing feature. Google has Incognito mode for their Chrome browser. Some sites detect it and disable it so that you aren’t really browsing privately, but a report by 9to5google shows that Google is working on making it more difficult for sites to block Incognito mode in Chrome.

Google’s Efforts with Incognito Mode

The struggle with this stems from websites’ desire to track your interests and to provide you with advertising. But you either don’t want those ads or just don’t want your activities tracked.

Knowing that browsers have private browsing modes, some sites try to block that type of feature. The easiest way for sites to block Chrome’s Incognito mode is to use the “FileSystem” API that applications store files in temporarily or permanently. Incognito mode disables the API, and these websites are able to determine that it’s disabled and then try to block it from doing so.

Obviously it’s the exact opposite of what Google is trying to accomplish with Incognito mode. They are trying to make it undetected, but sites are turning it around to use it to detect you.


9to5google reports that “a series of recent commits to Chromiums Gerrit source code management reveal that Google is finally looking to solve this issue, after years of being aware of it.”

When Chrome is asked for a file system while in Incognito, it will create a virtual filesystem using RAM to be sure once you leave Incognito that it’s deleted. This will prevent the known methods of detecting if you’re using Incognito mode.

When Will This Be Available?

The exact date Google plans to launch this feature in Chrome is unknown, but the developer for the project says his plan is for it to arrive in Chrome 74 behind flag and then be enabled by default in Chrome 76. The most current browser is Chrome 72.

Until then, you should of course remember that you aren’t necessarily “incognito.” You can still be detected. It’s important to know that. You’re not as private as you thought you were in Chrome

The question, though, is how long it will be before websites develop another way to block Incognito mode. They exist to make money. They aren’t going to rest with the thought that it’s impossible to detect you and track you to serve you appropriate ads. It seems the goal needs to be to just stay on top of it.

Do you use Incognito mode in Google Chrome? Did you know you were still able to be detected by some websites while using it? Let us know in the comments below about your usage of this feature.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

One comment

  1. I use Incognito mode occasionally, It would be nice to know when a website has blocked Incognito mode. Does Chrome have a notification alert when it happens, maybe that could be developed, then user could just decide not to visit those sights anymore. Wouldn’t that also be a direct message to third party snoops, seeing people leave their sight when their block is detected?

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