How To Browse Privately In Chrome Without Going Fully Incognito

Steve Campbell 12-04-2011

browse privately with google chromeAs I’ve stated in the past, depending on what I’m doing on the web, I like to “make use of” the different browsers that are available to me, but these days I am primarily a Google Chrome user. I’m a fan of the simplicity, speed, and innovation that Google constantly seems to be implementing, like with Chrome Instant What Google Chrome Instant Is And Why It's Badass Read More and the new speak-to-search addition to Google Chrome beta. Last week, I even pointed out some of Chrome’s themes The 10 Coolest Google Chrome Themes The big three - as far as browsers are concerned - have been making headlines as of late. Microsoft released IE9, which was downloaded nearly 2.5 million times in the first 24 hours of being... Read More that I’m partial to.


One of the features I especially like about Chrome is its incognito mode. When in incognito mode, webpages you open and files you download won’t be recorded in your browser’s history file, and cookies are deleted on exit, making your browsing session truly stealthy.

Unfortunately however, not having cookies means you’ll have to re-log into your favorite sites and re-enable the extensions you want to use one by one. But did you know that there’s a way for you to browse privately in Google Chrome but still stay signed into all your sites and have access to your extensions?

How Do I Access Incognito Mode?

If you still aren’t sure how to open an incognito window, I’ll show you real fast. All you have to do is go up to the top right of your Chrome window and click on the little wrench icon. Then, select New Incognito Window and a new window will open up with the little spy-guy in the top right-hand corner.

browse privately with google chrome

Alternatively, you can open an incognito window up by typing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N on a PC, or ?+Shift+N on a Mac.


chrome browser privacy

All of your extensions will be gone, but don’t worry, they’re still installed, just disabled temporarily. Any changes you make to your bookmarks and general settings while in incognito mode will still take, so you don’t have to worry about changing your settings each time you browse this way.

Incognito mode may be all you were looking for as far as private browsing, but if you would like to make your normal Chrome window not record your browsing history keep reading.

Browsing Privately Without Incognito Mode

If you would like to be able to use Chrome the normal way but you would like to have the ability to tell the browser to not save your history without being in incognito mode, all you need to do is make it so the browser doesn’t write to your history file. That may sound complicated, but it’s really quite easy to do…


How To On A PC

If you’re using a PC with Windows, just browse to

C:\Users\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\History

. Right-click the history file and hit properties. Check the box that says “Read Only” and exit.

How To On A Mac

chrome browser privacy

If you’re using a Mac with OS X, just open a Finder window and browse to

[your root name]/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/History

. Right-click the history file – or click the little gear drop-down menu – and hit Get Info. At the bottom, under Sharing & Permissions, set every drop-down to Read Only. Once done, you’re free to exit.

browse privately with google chrome

Now you should be able to browse the web using Chrome without any of your history – from the point you alter the file – being recorded by the browser. When you’re ready to start keeping your history again you can follow the steps to set the file back to how it was before you changed it.

Will you be utilizing this method to browse the web in stealth mode? Are there any other things you would like to be able to do with the Chrome browser? Leave a comment below so we can discuss!


Related topics: Google Chrome, Online Privacy.

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  1. Jessica
    June 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I don't have C:UsersAppDataLocalGoogleChromeUser DataDefaultHistory

  2. Alfee
    May 27, 2011 at 3:52 am

    It's funny how Chrome doesn't have a setting not to save any history (like in Opera) or to automatically delete all history (like Firefox).

  3. Manamermaid
    May 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Sorry if this is naive or redundant, but from what I have read here, it is not clear to me if the anonymity also covers things I post on the web in public forums?   Not sure if there is a difference in treatment between what I "consume" while browsing and what I might

    • Jessica Cam W.
      May 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      Going Incognito just means your browsing history won't be logged somewhere on your computer, but websites you visit can still log your IP. To actually browse anonymously, you'll probably need something like the Tor browser.

  4. Jasjeev Singh Anand
    April 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    BTW- If you had a problem with incognito because of extensions- you can enable them in incognito just go to tools -> extensions and check the box next to the extension/extensions you wish to enable

    • Steve Campbell
      April 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      That's true, although I'm not sure I would want to do that every time I used incognito mode, you know? Thanks for sharing that though!

      • Lauren G
        April 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm

        You don't have to. Before you go into incognito mode, just tick the 'Allow in incognito' box on the extensions you want. You only have to do it once and it remembers.

  5. Ravi Shankar
    April 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Just found out, if Chrome's already running, it should be restarted.

    • Steve Campbell
      April 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      Makes sense. Thanks for pointing that out, mirasravi!

  6. Ravi Shankar
    April 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Here's what I created:

  7. Ravi Shankar
    April 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hi, I've written a C# application for this, but I don't know how to publish it into a single exe file. Can anybody help?

    • Steve Campbell
      April 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      That's great! You should post that question on our Answers page. I'm sure you'll find the answer you're looking for there.

  8. Orlado58
    April 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

    resourceful one thank you

  9. Romil
    April 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Hmm... wow.. that's pretty useful!!!

  10. Trstrumpet
    April 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    its Command+Shift+N for a new incognito window.

    • Steve Campbell
      April 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Read the article! lol

      • Jessica Cam W.
        April 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        I think Trstrumpet might be talking about how there's a question mark instead of the command symbol in the article.

        • Steve Campbell
          April 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

          Oh man, you're right. Thanks, Jessica. It was a command symbol but I guess WordPress didn't like it when it went live. :)

    • Kamal
      April 13, 2011 at 5:13 am

      But you can always clear the cache and the cookies after you are done browsing ;)

      • Steve Campbell
        April 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

        That's true! Nice catch, Kamal. :)