Hiding your browsing history in Chrome, Edge, Firefox & Safari on desktop devices

All modern web browsers have the option to conceal your browsing history, although they use different terms for this and different techniques to enable this feature.

Enabling private browsing means that your web browser won’t record visited sites to the browsing history, save any cookies that show you’ve visited or logged into a site, or remember credentials like passwords used during sessions.

Private browsing is intended to hide any local traces of where you’ve been, what you’ve searched for, and the contents of forms you’ve filled.

It’s purpose is to hide your tracks from others who may have access to the same personal computer or device that you are viewing web content on.

Private browsing in Google Chrome

Private browsing mode in Chrome is referred to as Incognito. The easiest way to open a new Incognito window is with the keyboard shortcut combination Ctrl-Shift-N (Windows) or Command-Shift-N (macOS).

Another way is to click on the menu on the upper right corner of the browser window – it’s the three vertical dots – and select New Incognito Window from the list.

The new Incognito window can be recognised by the dark background and the stylised “spy” icon just to the left of the three-dots menu.

To close an Incognito window, click the X in the upper right corner (Windows) or the red dot in the upper left (macOS).

Private browsing in Microsoft Edge

Private browsing mode in Microsoft Edge is referred to as InPrivate. At the keyboard, the combination of Ctrl-Shift-N (Windows) or Command-Shift-N (macOS) opens an InPrivate window.

A slower way to get there is to click on the menu at the upper right — it’s three small horizontal dots – and choose New InPrivate Window from the menu.

The new InPrivate window can be recognised by a blue-colored oval marked “In Private” to the right of the address bar, combined with a full-black screen to make sure users know where they are correctly running in private browser mode.

To end InPrivate browsing, simply shut the window by clicking the X in the upper right corner (Windows) or click the red dot at the upper left (macOS).

Private browsing in Firefox

Private browsing mode in Firefox is simply called just that – Private Browsing. From the keyboard, a private browsing session can be called up using the combination Ctrl-Shift-P (Windows) or Command-Shift-P (macOS).

Alternately, a private window will open from the menu at the upper right of Firefox – the three short horizontal lines – after selecting New Private Window from the dropdown menu.

A private session window is marked by the purple “mask” icon in the title bar of the Firefox frame. In Windows, the icon is to the left of the minimize/maximize/close buttons; on a Mac, the mask sits at the far right of the title bar. Unlike Chrome and Edge, Firefox does not color-code the top components of the browser window to signify the user is in privacy mode.

To close a Private Window, shut it down just as one would any Firefox window by clicking the X in the upper right corner (Windows) or the red dot in the upper left (macOS).

Private browsing in Safari

Private browsing mode in Safari is called a Private Window on a Mac. Users can open a new private window through using the three-key combination of Command-Shift-N (the same shortcut as Chrome), or a new window can be opened by selecting the File menu and clicking on New Private Window.

Safari indicates private browsing mode by darkening the address bar.

Close a Private Window just as any Safari window, by clicking the red dot in the upper left corner of the browser frame.

If you are viewing this website on a mobile device, please ensure that the device requires a pass-code to unlock it, and that you are familiar with how to browse privately on your particular device.