The Ultimate Guide To Private Browsing on the Internet

Currently, if you want to browse privately, you probably open up your browser and go through the trouble of deleting your history after you’ve finished. Or, perhaps you know about the “incognito/private browsing” feature in your browser and use it after you’ve opened it.

The problem is that, until now, you’ve had to open up your browser first and then turn on the feature. This gets a little annoying after a while. What if I told you that you can configure your browser to automatically start up in private browsing/incognito mode? What if you never had to spend a minute without privacy?

Why Would I Want To Start Up My Browser Like This?

Most people start with the normal browsing mode simply because they don’t know the existence of the privacy mode or they just don’t bother about it. If you are one of those who prefer to go private, you will want to start your browser directly in privacy mode so you won’t expose yourselves right from the start.

Configuring Private Browsing/Incognito Mode On Startup For…

1: Google Chrome

Chrome is a very strong browser, especially known for its incognito mode feature. To configure it to start directly in incognito mode:

  • Right-click the shortcut you use for Google Chrome. If your shortcut is pinned to the taskbar, right-click on the pinned icon and then right-click on Google Chrome.
  • Click “Properties.”
  • Under “Target,” you’ll see a path. After that path, attach “-incognito” to the end of it. Click “OK” when you’re finished.


That’s all you have to do! Chrome will now start up in incognito mode.

2: Mozilla Firefox

This one’s a little tricky. Firefox has a “private browsing mode,” but it’s not really so much of a mode as a temporary setting in your options. It temporarily forgets all the history in your browsing session while using the feature. The same goes for any other browser’s private browsing feature. Unlike with Chrome, you can configure Firefox to let you browse privately on startup without any workarounds. The most transparent way to set this up is through the “Privacy” section within the “Options” dialog:

  • Click the orange “Firefox” button on the upper left corner of the window and click “Options.”
  • Navigate to “Privacy.”
  • Select “Never remember history” under “Firefox will.”


After setting this, Firefox will always forget every website you navigate to.

3: Internet Explorer

For Internet Explorer, the configuration is very similar to Chrome’s.

  • Right-click on the shortcut you use to access Internet Explorer and click “Properties.”
  • Under “Target,” you’ll see a path. Type “-private” after the path.
  • Click “OK.”

This setting is straightforward for the most part.

4. Safari

Unfortunately there is no way to keep Safari in private browsing mode after it’s turned off. Every time the app is opened, Private Safari will have to be initiated unless you set up an AppleScript.

  • With Safari open, pull down on the Safari menu and choose Private Browsing.
  • In the resulting dialog box, Click OK to confirm.
  • A bar with the word “Private” will appear in the address bar.
  • To turn off, either click the Private button in the address bar or pull down on the Safari menu again and choose Private Browsing again to turn it off.

A Final Word Of Warning

If you’re using private browsing to perform illegal activities, you’re still going to get busted anyway. Your browser’s privacy mode is mostly ornamental, so people using your computer can’t just jump in and check your history. But your ISP can still keep track of you if you’re doing something nasty. Please browse safely.

Post a comment below if you have a question or would like to add to the discussion on private browsing.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.


    1. Most ordinary people are simply concerned about making sure that peeping toms don’t see their history. TOR can be discussed in a later article. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll make this a priority.

  1. Not sure this article actually deserves the title “Ultimate guide to private browsing”. Perhaps, “How to turn on private browsing on major web browsers” is more appropriate. Especially when the author admits that private browsing is “ornamental”. Why not include information such as using the Tor network (mentioned above), Ghostery or even ways to configure browsers in ways that maximise your privacy online. That would be worthy of the title.

  2. This is far from the ultimate guide to anything…seen the same stuff 100’s of times before



    1. There are a lot of beginners out there. These beginners have a need to read something that’s a little easier to understand without being overwhelmed by overly technical things. Since I see some demand, I will likely write a piece that’s more complex. But if you’re already very technically literate, you probably know these things already.

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