Why use private mode

Whichever browser you're using, it's likely that there is a private mode, also known as incognito mode, that you can take advantage of to remain anonymous while using the internet. This mode is notoriously known as "porn mode," but it serves a much bigger and more important purpose than that. Here, we bring you five reasons to use incognito mode, and guess what: none of them are for porn.

What is incognito mode?

The purpose of incognito mode is to keep your web browsing activities private from other users. It will automatically erase your browsing history and search history, and won't pick up any cookies.

Incognito mode is unable to keep your browsing activities private from your ISP or online snoops, though. See how to set up a VPN service for more information on how to get that level of privacy on the web.

How to turn on incognito mode or private mode

Each browser has a slightly different way of turning on private or incognito mode, and if you're on a mobile device it'll be different again. Here's a list of the most popular browsers and how to turn on each one's private browsing feature.

How to turn on incognito mode in Google Chrome

In Chrome, simply go to File, New Incognito window. Incognito windows will have a blue/grey bar along the top and a sneaky looking man in the top right corner.

How to turn on InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer

You can turn on Internet Explorer's InPrivate Browsing mode by going to the Safety menu and clicking InPrivate Browsing. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Shift + P on your keyboard or select the feature from the New Tab page.

How to turn on Private mode in Firefox

Firefox's Private mode is accessible just like Chrome's, by going to File, New Private window. Your Private window in Firefox will have a purple mask icon in the bar along the top and on the tab itself.

How to turn on Private mode on iPhone

If you're running iOS 7 on your iPhone, you can turn on Private mode in Safari by pressing the tab icon in the bottom right corner and then tapping Private.

How to turn on Incognito mode on Android

This varies depending on which browser you're using on your Android device, but in Chrome for Android you just need to open the settings panel and clicking New Incognito tab. You should find most private browsing features in the settings menu of any mobile browser you use.

Why use incognito mode: Privacy on public PCs

When you're in public places and need to use a public PC - maybe in the library, or at an internet cafe – it's a good idea to turn on incognito mode in the browser you're using. It's wise to take further measures to make sure your activity can't be tracked if you're visiting sensitive accounts (telling sites not to store your password is a big one!), but it'll at least act as an effect form of protection.

Why use incognito mode: Get around paywalls

If you frequently visit a website that offers a limited number of free articles per month but then asks you to cough up the cash for a subscription, you can use incognito mode to get around the paywall. Because cookies aren't kept when you're browsing privately, the website will think you're a new visitor every time, and therefore will be unable to enforce the limit.

Why use incognito mode: Surprise gifts

Are you buying a surprise gift for someone with access to your computer? Do your internet shopping using incognito mode and you won't accidentally spoil the surprise by leaving your search history behind. Unless of course you log into a shared shop account to buy it.  

Why use incognito mode: Check your search ranking

It's also helpful for bloggers, journalists and anyone else with their own website. You can turn on privacy mode to make sure that your search results aren't biased towards your previous browsing history and your Google Plus account. It's quicker and easier than logging out and clearing your cache.

Why use incognito mode: Multiple accounts

Another use for incognito mode is for working across multiple accounts at once. For example, if you use one Google account for working on spreadsheets for the company you work for, and another for your personal email, you can use both accounts at once by using incognito mode for one of them.