Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing

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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

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.

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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.

private web 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.)

private web 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.

private web 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.

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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Comments (39)
  • Rachel B

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

  • Rishabh Sharma

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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…….

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.