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Private Mode definition

Private Mode Browsing (© WrightStudio /

Private Mode Browsing (© WrightStudio /

This post discusses what private mode browsing is. Who is it for? What are the benefits? And how does it work? Likewise, what are the implications that this holds for marketers. We’ll find out all of that and more.




What is Private Mode Browsing?

Private Mode Browsing is an option built into most browsers today that allows you to browse the web without it affecting your browsing history, your cookies and more. This has many uses, as we will see in a moment.

Private mode browsing is called ‘Incognito Mode’ on Chrome and is simply called ‘Private Mode’ on Edge Browser. It has other names on other platforms. Whatever the name though, the mechanism is usually the same: the system turns off cookies (files stored on your computer by certain websites) and it doesn’t add your browsing to your browser history.

openPR-Tip: This means that if you visit a certain website, then it won’t be tracked and subsequent users on that computer won’t be able to see. It also means that passwords and the like won’t be saved and that autofill suggestions won’t be filled out. You’ll generally be logged out of all accounts, though autofill for passwords and usernames already used will still be on.

The Limitations of Private Browsing

There are limitations for your private browsing however. For one, if you are logged into a site like Google, Facebook or YouTube, then the account on those platforms may trace your behavior.

It’s also important to recognize that if you buy something, emails will still be sent to your address as receipts. Likewise, you can still pick up spam and malware – though this is fortunately significantly less likely in private browsing modes.

How to Buy Gifts Without Your Partner Knowing

Buying presents for a partner used to be somewhat risky, because there was always the chance you'd be seen. You could be out in the local jewelers looking for that nice diamond ring, only for them to walk past with friends and see you. Not only does that then give the game away, but it can also lead to trouble as they start asking whether or not you were perhaps looking for an engagement ring, or perhaps even buying a ring for someone other than them.

The web in theory makes this much easier. Now we can do out shopping online and that means you only have to worry about covering up a small screen: which you can do easily with your body.

That's the theory anyway, but as we know it doesn't always go that way. Thanks to search histories and people coming home earlier than they're meant to, it's still all too easy for a partner to catch us out and see what we have planned. Ruining everything…

Fortunately, there are ways around this problem, you just have to be cunning and a little tech savvy. That’s where private mode comes in.

Using Incognito for Private Shopping

Incognito mode was a stroke of genius by Google for the Chrome browser which ensured that a lot of IE's previous fans jumped ship. As we’ve discussed - the idea behind Incognito mode, is that you can open an 'incognito window' for browsing the web that won't show up in your history and that won't save things like passwords, search history etc.

How to Use Private Browsing

This is very useful if you want to browse the web without your partner finding out. All you need to do is to right click on your Chrome icon, and then select 'New Incognito Window'. Don't have Chrome? Well don't worry as Microsoft has now wised up and added the feature to Edge - only it's called 'In Private' browsing.

Other Strategies

As we’ve seen, there are some limitations to relying purely on private mode browsing.

There are other strategies you can use too though. One of course is not to use a shared computer at all - browse on your phone or on your work PC, and your partner will be much less like to see what you've been up to. That said though, if your partner is prone to steeling your phone out your hands then that plan won't quite work. Another option is to just clear your browsing history, or if you're a smart cat you could install a different browser that they don't know about or even program your own.

Another tip is to make sure you only browse when you're sure your partner isn't around - and put yourself in the back room so you get early warning when they arrive home. As Google is keen to remind us when we switch on Incognito mode… we are not invisible!

For Marketers

Finally, it’s important for marketers and site owners to consider the implications of private mode browsing. For one, it means that users might be engaging with your content without the use of cookies. Remember this when you are using goal tracking, remarketing and other methods. Consider the likelihood that a user would use your site in incognito mode before deciding on these options. For instance, if you do run a jewelers – then it’s highly possible that this may be the case for the reasons we’ve seen!


Press releases

Incognito Mode Online: Not as Private as You Think
Many people use their browser’s incognito, or private, mode to browse the internet privately. However, this mode doesn’t actually make them as invisible as they think. All the browsing data can still be tracked with the help of users’ IP addresses. “Private browsing mode makes sure your computer is not storing
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