Check Out These Cool Things You Can Do In Chrome Incognito Mode

You’ve heard there is a special window within the Chrome browser called an incognito window, and you want to learn more about it. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s look at what it does, what it doesn’t do, and why you sometimes want to use it.

Incognito: the state or assumed identity of one living or traveling anonymously.

A Google Chrome incognito window allows you to access websites as someone else or no one. Merriam-Webster defines incognito as “the state or assumed identity of one living or traveling anonymously.” Does that mean you can surf the web anonymously? Well, not really.

The Google Chrome browser is available for Windows devices, Macbooks, Chromebooks, tablets, phones, and other devices. When you open an incognito window on one of these devices, the browser ignores any credentials you’re using in your “normal” Chrome browser window.

For example, let’s say you are signed into Gmail in a “normal” Chrome browser window. If you go to Gmail within an incognito window, you will be prompted to sign in. You can sign in with a different account.

A typical Chrome browser window remembers things you have done and places you have gone online by storing cookies on your device. For example, I once shopped for a particular inflatable two-person Kayak online. For days afterward, any website I went to had an advertisement for kayaks. Google knew I was interested in kayaks based on my previous web browsing. They then tried to show me ads they thought were relevant to me.

An incognito window remembers accounts you have signed into and websites you have visited only during that browser session. Once you close the incognito window, all stored information is forgotten. Even if you open a new incognito window afterward, you start fresh.

Difference Between Incognito and Normal Chrome Browser Windows

The primary difference is that your device forgets the information stored while using an incognito window when you close the window. Including:

  • The history of any sites you visited
  • Any cookies and site data that may have been cached
  • Any information you entered while filling out forms

If you download files or create any bookmarks, those will be saved.

When Teachers Should Use Incognito Mode

Many teachers have Windows PCs attached to projectors or large screens in their classrooms. There are times when you want students to use your PC to display a presentation or project. Logging on and off a Chromebook is a quick process. Often, that same process can take several minutes on a Windows PC. Using a Chrome incognito window is an excellent alternative to logging out of the PC.

Open an incognito window and have the student access the sites and files they need to present. When the student is finished presenting, close the incognito window, and any account information and cookies stored for the user will be removed.

Can I Use Multiple Chrome Incognito Windows?

You can use multiple incognito windows at the same time. However, each incognito window shares the same information. That information is not removed/forgotten until all incognito windows are closed.

For example, If you have Johnny log into a website in an incognito window and then have Suzy use another incognito window to access the same site, instead of being prompted to log on, she’ll automatically be accessing the site using Johnny’s credentials. The takeaway here is to close all incognito windows before accessing the same sites with different credentials.

How To Open Chrome Incognito Mode on Chromebook

  1. Click the three vertical lines in the top right corner of the Chrome window.
Open an Incognito window from within the Chrome browser.
  1. Click on New incognito Window.

Open a Chrome Incognito Window from the Taskbar (Windows) or Shelf (Chromebook)

Examples of how to open a Chrome Incognito window in Windows and on a Chromebook.
  1. Right-click on the Chrome browser icon
  2. Click on New incognito Window

Open a Chrome Incognito Window using Keyboard Shortcut

Open a Chrome Incognito window using the keyboard by pressing Ctrl, Shift, N
  1. Open the Chrome browser
  2. Press Ctrl + Shift + N

Open a Chrome Incognito Window On iPhone

How to open a Chrome incognito window on a phone
  1. Open the Chrome browser app. If you don’t already have it installed, the links for the Apple iOS and Android versions are here.
  2. Open the Chrome app
  3. Click on the square box next to the search button.
  4. At the top of the screen, click the incognito image
  5. Click the plus sign to open an incognito.

The Incognito window is Missing from the Chrome Browser

If you are using a Google account controlled by a school system or business, the option to open an incognito window may be hidden. Your organization’s Google Admin can turn it off. Most school systems turn off incognito for students.

Hide Websites I Visit From My School

Incognito mode will not do this. Every device on a network has an IP address. If your school or employer does any web filtering or monitoring, the websites you visit will be recorded and matched to your IP address. Internet Service Providers (ISP) can also track network activity to a specific public IP address.

Can Amazon And Other Websites Track What I Am Searching For When Using An Incognito Window?

If you sign into Amazon or another account when searching, then the answer is yes. Only your device won’t remember your searches, which could be handy when buying presents on a shared personal device.

Don’t sign in to any online accounts if you are shopping for a Mother’s Day or Anniversary present using a shared account. Instead, use the “Check out as guest option” if it exists for the site. Amazon does not currently have a guest checkout option, so hopefully, you have your own Amazon account.

When Should I Use a Chrome Incognito Window?

If you want to search the Internet and not have a computer or other device, remember any websites you visit or auto-fill any information it knows about you in forms or sign-in pages, then use an incognito window. For example, it is a good idea to use an incognito window on a presentation PC or other computer you don’t expect to use again.

An incognito window will not hide your web browsing history from your school, employer, or Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you skipped to this section, I recommend reading the other tips on this page for using an incognito window.

So now you know what a Chrome incognito window is and isn’t. It is helpful in specific circumstances, but I wouldn’t use it all of the time on my personal device. Most of the time, I want my device to remember form information, websites, and other data it can reuse when I visit websites.

Dave Carty

K12 district technology administrator, Google domain admin, Certified Google Trainer.

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