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Why Incognito Browsing Is Cool
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What does it mean to browse online in ‘incognito mode’? On the far right of your browser’s address bar, there’s an icon that will open a browser menu or settings. Scrolling down that or the File menu will give you the option to open a ‘New incognito/private window’.

On Chrome, the new window has an icon that looks like a man wearing a shady hat and glasses. Firefox has a The Incredibles-esque superhero mask. These symbols all suggest two things: secrecy and privacy.

While incognito browsing does make your browsing habits more private, there are quite a few added benefits that you might not know about. Let’s dive in!

History? What history?

Since your browser won’t save cookies, searches, visited pages and temporary files in this mode, you’re better able to ‘cover your tracks’ online.

There are many reasons why someone might want to keep their browsing habits private – such as if you’re using a public computer – and this way, you can prevent someone accidentally discovering what you’re browsing.

Keep in mind, however, that you’re not totally untraceable. If you’re connected to your work network, your employer can still track what sites you’re connected to and even receive alerts when certain search terms are put in. So don’t take incognito mode as a license to go nuts!

Sign into multiple accounts simultaneously

A ‘cookie’ is something that saves your information when you visit a particular website and communicates it to your browser. That’s how you can stay logged in to your email even if you’ve closed the window and opened another one.

Since cookies aren’t saved or shared in private browsing, your browser doesn’t know that you’re already logged into one email account, so you can log in to another at the same time.

You could be on your work Gmail in incognito mode while your personal email is open in a regular browser window. Or if a friend wants to check their Facebook account on your device, they can do so in an incognito window without you having to log out of your own account!

Refresh links

A cache is where temporary Internet files are kept. These temporary files make it faster for you to load a webpage – for instance, if a company logo always appears on the bottom right of a page, it’s faster to load it directly from the temporary files instead of re-downloading it from the website every time.

Sometimes, the cache gets stuck or confused for unknown reasons. It might cause issues like login problems, or the page doesn’t update even if you close the window and open a new one.

The normal solution is to clear your browser cache, but if that’s too annoying, incognito mode comes in handy here. Since it doesn’t have or keep any temporary files, it will always open sites ‘fresh’ without the baggage from the cache.

Work around the wall

No one likes getting the ‘Want to read more? A subscription only costs this much!’ notices when you’re trying to read an article, but subscription is often necessary for media websites to survive these days. Sometimes, however, you just need a bit of information hidden in an article and you can’t afford or don’t need the year-long subscription to unlock everything.

Some sites give you limited ‘free trials’, such as allowing you to read a certain number of articles before asking you to pay for a subscription. How does the site know how many times you’ve visited? The answer is simple: yes, cookies. Incognito browsing means no cookies, and no cookies means the site will always treat your visit as the first.

That aside, if you’re a fan of the site’s content, do consider subscribing. Your support is what helps them continue to produce great stuff!

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