Surfing in Secret

Sometimes, especially if you share computers, you may want to surf the Internet without leaving any history or cached information behind.  This function is actually supported in all of the major browsers.  They are all called different things, but basically it allows you to open another version of the browser that will not save any information while you are surfing.  So once you close the window, all that information, cookies, history are gone.

  • Internet Explorer calls it InPrivate Browsing, and you can access this by going into Tools, and selecting InPrivate Browsing.  This will open a new Internet Explorer window displaying the text InPrivate.
  • For Firefox calls it Private Browsing, and you can access it by clicking on the orange Firefox button and choose Start Private Browsing.  This will open a new Firefox window that says Private Browsing.
  • In Chrome it is called the Incognito Window.  By clicking on the wrench icon and choosing New Incognito Window, you will now get a separate Chrome window with a spy in the upper corner.

While this seems like someone would only use this to surf porn and hide it, these functions actually do have more noble uses as well.  For instance if you want to surf for a present or a surprise party without anyone knowing, this function could be useful.  Working for the libraries, we use this ability with Internet Explorer and Firefox quite a bit on the public computers, so we can clear the history easily between different people using it.

But one of the more common reasons I use this ability is when I am signing into two different email accounts from the same provider.  So let’s say I want to sign into two Yahoo or Gmail accounts, normally I would have to sign out and sign back in, but with this ability I can open a new browser that is locked down, and log in with the other account.  This works because the Private browser does not share any cookies or any other information with your regular browser.  Allowing you to sign into different accounts from the same website.  A nice little trick if you have a couple of different Gmail accounts you want opened at the same time.  Of course you could use the Google Multiple Sign-In that I blogged about earlier, but sometimes that isn’t enough, and that only works with Google.

Of course another good reason to use Private browsing is to look at a site you are maybe not so sure about, without it getting your information.  Like I said earlier, it does not allow access to your regular cache or cookies.  So if you pulled up a site that might be trying to get your data, it won’t work if you are in a Private browsing session.

So if you are looking to hide something, be more secure on a questionable website, or just have multiple accounts of the same kind open, you may want to check out doing a Private browsing session in your preferred browser.