Safe and Private Browsing on Your Windows 10 Laptop - dummies

Safe and Private Browsing on Your Windows 10 Laptop

By Dan Gookin

Most web browsers feature tools that are useful for surfing the web on your laptop without your having to worry whether anyone is snooping on you or trying to pull a fast one. These tools include private or incognito browsing, scanning for phony websites, and other tricks.

Browsing in secret

You can’t avoid it. No matter where you go on the Internet, your web browsing history is being tracked. The web page ads record which ads you click. Online shopping sites remember which products you look at. Information from social networking sites targets advertising based on your age, sex, and likes, and even your friends’ likes.

This type of snooping is nothing new. It’s just a more sophisticated way to gather consumer information than has been previously available. You can avoid being tracked by using a private browsing window.

  • In the Windows 10 Edge browser, the feature is called Browsing InPrivate. To open a new InPrivate window, press Ctrl+Shift+P.

  • If you use the Chrome web browser, open a new Incognito window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N.

  • Other web browsers feature similar, private windows.

The new, private browser window offers instructions on how it works. You browse in the window just as you would in a nonprivate window, although no cookies are tracked and no other settings are available. For example, Facebook won’t instantly recognize your login information, and your online shopping sites will forget your favorites and other web page settings.

The good news is that none of your actions in the private window is tracked. You can browse without a record being made of where you went or what you did.

End your private browsing session by closing the private window.

Deleting your web browsing history

The web browser dutifully keeps track of every web page you’ve visited. The information is stored as your web browsing history. You can use the history to revisit web pages, create bookmarks, or see what your lying, cheating partner has been doing recently.

When you forget to use a private browsing window, you can review and purge the web page history. If you’re using Windows 10 and the Edge web browser, follow these steps:

  1. Press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Del, where Del is the Delete key on the laptop’s keyboard.

    The Clear Browsing Data panel slides in from the right edge of the window. It’s chock-full of items that are recorded as you visit websites.

  2. Ensure that the Browsing History item is selected.

    It’s the only option you should zap; choose other items in the window at your own peril.

  3. Click the Clear button.

    History is gone and doomed to be repeated!

In the Chrome web browser, follow these steps to purge historical information:

  1. Click the address box and type chrome://history

    Do not type a period after the word history.

  2. Press Enter to view the Chrome History screen.

  3. Click the check box by those web page items you want to purge.

  4. Click the Remove Selected Items button.

    They’re gone.

To prevent the web browser from tracking your web page visits, you can use a private browsing window.