Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

private browsing detective   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private BrowsingPrivate-browsing mode has many other names, including “incognito mode” in Chrome and “InPrivate Browsing” in Internet Explorer. Some people refer to private-browsing mode as “porn mode”, but it isn’t just for porn addicts. It can be used for a variety of other useful things, including determining whether an airfare or shopping website is showing you higher prices.

In a nutshell, private browsing mode allows you to browse without your browser saving a list of the websites you’ve visited or storing cookies that can remember where you’ve been. Private-browsing windows are separate from your normal-browsing session. For example, if you’re logged into Google in your normal browser and open a private-browsing window, you won’t be logged into Google in private-browsing mode.

Check For Price Discrimination

Some websites present different prices to different people. Airline ticket websites have been particularly guilty of this, sometimes saving a cookie in your browser that may stick you with a higher airfare because of the pages you’ve visited while researching tickets. Amazon has also been caught presenting lower prices to new users and higher prices to people with Amazon accounts.

To see whether this is happening, you can check an airfare price or product price in a private-browsing window. You may find that the product or airfare is cheaper.

private browsing window airfare   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

Log Into Accounts on Someone Else’s Computer

Perhaps you’re using a friend’s computer – or a public computer – and you want to check your email or Facebook account. Instead of logging into your account using a normal browser, you can open up a private-browsing window and sign in. When you close the private-browsing window, you’ll be automatically signed out of all the websites you were using. If you didn’t do this, you might forget to log out and stay logged in on someone else’s computer.

If you’re checking your email on a friend’s computer, this also allows them to stay logged into their accounts in their normal browser. You don’t have to sign them out.

Note that you should still beware of keyloggers and malware. it’s not a great idea to type your password into untrusted computers. However, if you’re going to anyway, private-browsing mode helps prevent you from staying logged in.

You could even do this on your own computer – you’d be automatically logged out of the accounts you use every time you close your private browsing session.

Log Into a Second Account On a Website

Let’s say you have two different Gmail accounts, each with their own inbox. You can’t view each of them at the same time in the same browser.

However, you can open a private-browsing window and log into your second Hotmail account in the private-browsing window. Because the private-browsing session has its own separate set of browser cookies, it will have its own login state. You could have both Gmail inboxes on your screen at the same time.

We’ve covered ways to simultaneously use several Gmail accounts and other ways to switch between multiple user accounts in Firefox and Chrome, but private-browsing mode is a quick, easy way to do it.

Multiple Browsers   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

Prevent Pages You Visit From Appearing In The History

This is one of the intended purposes of private-browsing. Perhaps you want to visit some websites but don’t want them appearing in your history. Maybe you’re using a friend’s computer and you don’t want your browsing history saved in their browser or you’re searching for information about an embarrassing problem.

When you use private-browsing mode, the browser won’t store a history of pages you’ve visited and they won’t appear in auto-complete for people to stumble onto them.

Shop Online For Surprise Gifts

If you’re shopping for a gift for a family member or significant other on a computer you share, you can use private-browsing mode to hide your online shopping from other people using your browser. Your online shopping history won’t appear in your browser history.

However, this doesn’t just apply to the browser history itself. For example, Amazon normally remembers the products you look at on its website. If you use a shared computer, the next person to use the computer might go to Amazon and see the gifts you were thinking of buying for them. Private-browsing mode will prevent Amazon from remembering the products are associated with you (unless you log into Amazon in the private-browsing session.)

amazon more items to consider   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

See How Pages Look To The Public

Are you curious how your Facebook or LinkedIn profile looks to the public? You could sign out of Facebook and check, then log back in. However, that’s a bit tedious. A faster way is to open a private-browsing window and visit your profile page. You won’t be logged in in the private-browsing window, so you’ll see how it appears to the public.

Print Multiple Coupons

Some coupon-download websites only allow you to print a single coupon. They use cookies to remember you’ve printed a coupon and prevent you from downloading another one. If you open a private-browsing window and visit the coupon’s website again, you may be able to print additional coupons.

This may not work if the website links your coupon downloads to an account or restricts downloads based on your IP address, but it’s worth a shot.

couponscom   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

Step Outside The Bubble

Google tailors your search results based on your previous searches and the people in your Google+ circles. If you’d liked to see untargeted results, search Google in a private-browsing window and you won’t get any “search plus your world” or individually-tailored results.

This will also work on other websites that tailor their content to you.

Bypass Page View Limits

Some sites, such as the New York Times, restrict the amount of times you can view their website before purchasing a subscription. If you just want to read one more article, you can fire up private-browsing mode and access the website. Private-browsing mode has its own cookies, so you shouldn’t be blocked from reading the site.

nytimes paywall   Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

As we’ve seen, private browsing isn’t just for porn. It’s a tool with a wide variety of potential uses, and these were just a few examples.

Do you know any other clever uses for private browsing mode? Leave a comment and share them!

Image Credit: Detective via Shutterstock

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39 Comments -

Scott Belcher

Some of these might come in quite handy. Nice one MUO!

FĂ©lix De JesĂşs

Very interesting. Some people don’t use Incognito.

Obed Cutaran

I mainly use Incognito when browsing to my office computer and I don’t want them to see my browsing history.

Sal Portaro

Not wise. Your office can still see where you have been You may also be waving a red flag by doing what you are doing.

Obed Cutaran

My computer is connected directly to the dedicated ISP, and it doesn’t have any local network. So I think it’s safe.

juan david gil

just in case, Mr Potaro does make a good point; theres not such a thing as too much caution

Chris Hoffman

Smart, then! As long as they’re not running monitoring software on your office PC.

Unknown

I know them already :)

Swanny

With viewing your Facebook from a public POV, you can already do that by clicking the gear menu on your timeline, then clicking “View as…”

Chris Hoffman

You can — same with Google+ — but it can be nice seeing what it actually looks like when you’re not logged in. (Or maybe I’m just paranoid…)

Kieran Colfer

We use it in work for testing changes on our website when there’s a deployment being done. Open up the page, do the change, then open up an incognito window and view it again – it bypasses the cache so it always gets the latest version of the page. So, now you can have the 2 versions of the page open side-by-side and can see exactly what has changed.

Chris Hoffman

Smart! Reloading a page with Ctrl+F5 also bypasses the cache, I believe.

Dushi

the only problem is if u closed a window by mistake , there is no way to recover that. Else in normal mode u can open it by ctrl+shft+t… or can go to histry

Akshay Zade

Firefox can temporarily remember your closed tabs. So, if you accidentally close a tab you can still fire Ctrl+Shift+T. Closing the private browsing session will get rid of everything.

Chris Hoffman

Yup. That can be annoying, but it’s also a feature — no one else can recover the tabs, either. Close it and it’s gone.

Adam

I use InCognito to do my banking. It saves me from having to remember if I logged out when I use a public pc. I also use InCognitio and HideMyAss an IP Address Hider, and check out New York Times’ site, Wall Street Journal’s site, and other sites that tailor the site based by IP addresses.

Chris Hoffman

Be careful about banking on public PCs, though! I wouldn’t enter sensitive passwords on potentially-compromised computers.

Ron Lister

Thanks Chris the airlines ticket tip is a winner and my wife(addicted to coupons) will enjoy the coupon tip.

arkhadius

“Let’s say you have two different Gmail accounts, each with their own inbox. You can’t view each of them at the same time in the same browser.”
Yes, you can :) Just click your name/email in top right corner and “add account”

Chris Hoffman

Yup, but you can only view one on-screen at a time… as far as I know.

arkhadius

Seriously, what is the difference between new tab with another inbox and new browser? You still have to swap between browsers. Tabs are earier IMO. And do you really need to see two inboxes at a time? :P

Chris Hoffman

Someone might! Personally, I just push all my email addresses to a single Gmail account.

arkhadius

That someone is a masochist:P
“Someone might” need to surf the Net underwater :P so let’s not talk about marginal cases.

Ivan Tomasovic

Good Stuff MUO! Thanks

Piet Djajadi

Good advice. Thanks.

AP

I think you gave warning signal to Airlines and Shopping sites to try some other better method to follow their their old tested ways.

David Esteban Rosado

You guys are a learning experience!

Nohl Lyons

There were some good ones. Nice.

bud

…….after 15 years, I just learned something new……..private browsing!!! Wish a link had either been posted for those who use Safari, OR an explanation on “how to” enable it !!! Like the old adage, “can one see the forest from the trees,” the feature was there on my Safari menu and I never noticed it ! Thanks for a belated “heads-up!”

Raazan Malla

Didn’t know private browsing could be of so much use. Great info.

Choon Khai

Whoa, I never thought of the other usages of it besides of privately log in social network. very very interesting. Especially I’m the kind who love to hunt for free deals and giveaway. :)

Rubis Song

Thanks a million! Actually I have experienced similar things with Amazon. A friend sent me a link of a mobile he wanted to buy and when i opened it for me it was a different price. I couldn’t believe it until he took a screenshot of the page and sent it to me. His price was 20% lower than the one Amazon was giving to me. I use to do online shopping with Amazon and even got a prime membership but my friend was using Amazon for his very 1st time.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I use private browsing simply because I don’t like people knowing what I see and read. Nothing is shady, mind you, but it’s just uncomfortable if someone know my brosing habits.

Prakaas Lekshmanan

I find it safe using Private Browsing…….
Cuz, it helps keep our privacy and there won’t be any Trackers following us back home…….

Wally G

people have’nt figured this out themselves? Private Browsing is nothing for safety purposes. If you have something to “hide”, first of all stop doing it, and second of all, use a stealth browser that will bury your IP in proxies.

Finally, if you’ve something to hide- don’t do it at work!

Himanshu Singla

Is there any way to use incognito window by default on opening the browser?

Prafulla Bhalde

Yes there is.

At least in firefox you can opt to use private browsing session by default.

Go to options, and then privacy tab, and choose not to remember history from the drop down box there.

Currently i am not using any other browsers, so cant advise regarding them.

Rishabh Sharma

Vey Useful while sitting on my sister’s Laptop ;)

Rachel B

I use a Proxy to keep myself anonymous, for the reasons you just listed…