How to Go Incognito with Google Chrome

By James T. Cains

Celebrities know all about going incognito – though it probably doesn’t work all that often. Really, can Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hide effectively behind sunglasses and hoodies?

Luckily, in the online world, it’s actually a little easier to go incognito when you’re browsing the web. Chrome’s aptly named Incognito Mode enables you to surf the web without your browsing data being saved on your computer. So, basically, nothing is saved in your browsing and download histories or in cookies. You may also recognize Incognito Mode as InPrivate Browsing (in Internet Explorer) and Private Window (in Firefox). Arguably, Chrome has the cooler name for it!

Incognito Mode and Private Browsing do not mean that you’re anonymous on the Internet. Chrome still sends your IP address to the web sites you visit, as well as login information and so on, if applicable. This information can be used to figure out who you are and where you’ve been online, not only by web site marketers but also law enforcement agencies (yikes!). Also, Incognito Mode doesn’t hide what you’re doing from other monitoring software that your employer may have put on your computer, and it doesn’t screen your network activity either from the good and all-knowing folks in your IT department. Essentially, it just makes it so no one can go onto your computer and easily find out what web sites you’ve visited and files you’ve downloaded.

To go incognito in Chrome, follow these steps:

  1. In the upper-right corner of the browser window, click the Chrome button.

  2. Choose New Incognito Window.

In Figure 1, you see the new browser window that appears. Notice the shifty-looking guy with sunglasses in the top-left corner and the stern warning about how effective Incognito Mode really is.

Figure 1: Do you feel like you’re being watched?

Figure 1: Do you feel like you’re being watched?

Source: Google

Notice how Incognito Mode opens a new window. That’s because you can’t have an incognito tab within your non-incognito browser window. Chrome has to start a new browsing session to begin Incognito Mode. Keep that in mind if you’re switching in between incognito and non-incognito windows.