Skip to Content
© Jakkapant Turasen | Dreamstime.com
Security & privacy

6 practical reasons to use incognito mode in your browser

Some people believe that using incognito mode means everything they do online is private. That’s not exactly true. Certain entities, like your internet service provider, can still see your activity.

Google made a change to Chrome’s Incognito mode recently that beefed-up privacy, but it didn’t go as far as many would like. Tap or click here for details on the important Chrome loophole that was closed and how to enable the change.

The misconception people have about private browsing is turning into a legal battle. A proposed class-action lawsuit accuses Google of tracking users while in Incognito mode, among other things. If Incognito mode isn’t truly private, why use it? Keep reading and we’ll explain why it’s still a good idea to use at certain times.

Incognito isn’t as private as you think

While incognito mode — in any browser — does provide more privacy than if you’re not using it, it doesn’t live up to the expectations that many have. So, what exactly does it mean to use incognito mode?

When you surf the web incognito, your browser doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies, site data or information you enter in forms. It does, however, keep any downloaded files or bookmarks created during the session. Not to mention the fact that your IP address and computer data are still vulnerable to hackers.

And, on the websites you visit, your internet service provider can still see your activity, as can a school or employer that is providing your internet access or computer.

You may also like: Can you pass Google’s new scam quiz?

If you truly want to hide your web activity, that’s where a VPN comes in. Komando listeners can try Express VPN free for 30 days. Get 3 months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.

When using Incognito mode is a good idea

Now, you don’t have true anonymity in Incognito mode, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth using. There are actually some very good reasons to use it.

1. Signing into multiple email accounts

It’s a pain when you want to check your personal inbox but you’re logged into another account. Instead of using separate browsers or signing in and out of your accounts, use Incognito mode.

Try signing into your work email using your browser normally, then open up an incognito window for your personal account.

You may also like: How to tell if someone has stolen your Netflix account

2. Shopping for gifts

Whenever you shop online for a gift, whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary or Christmas, you’re going to want it to be a surprise. What’s more exciting as a child than seeing all those wrapped gifts under the tree on Christmas morning before tearing them open to find out what’s inside of each one?

Targeted ads can ruin those special moments if you don’t shop in Incognito mode. You see, when you shop for gifts online your browser keeps tabs on everything that you look for. Later, you’ll see ads pop-up on other sites that try to get you to come back to make the purchase — even if you already bought the item.

Those ads won’t only be displayed for you, either. If the person you’re buying the gift for uses your computer, tablet or smartphone, they will see the same ads. Of course, this is going to tip them off as to what you’re up to. That won’t happen if you shop in Incognito mode.

3. Avoid auto-fill suggestions in the future

Ever need to find instructions for a DIY project on a site like YouTube? The platform is great to learn how to do pretty much anything these days. Need to know how to replace the battery in your car? No worries, there are tons of YouTube videos that will give you step-by-step details on how to do it.

But the need to change your car battery only comes around once every few years. You don’t want to be inundated with suggestions on how to change your car’s battery every time you visit YouTube or any other site for that matter.

You can avoid these annoying suggestions by searching in Incognito mode. When your battery dies three years from now, you can do another search for instructions without having to be bombarded with suggestions in the meantime.

4. Booking travel

Unfortunately, some companies that you book travel through keep track of what you’ve searched for recently and will increase prices the next time you visit the site. If you use Incognito mode you don’t have to worry about price gouging.

It’s not just the travel industry that does this, either. Many online shopping sites know when you’re stalking an item and could raise the price if you leave and come back later to buy it. Don’t leave it up to chance.

5. Getting out of your bubble

This one is especially helpful during this period of sheltering in place. You’ve most likely spent much more time binge-watching TV shows or listening to music in the past few months than normal.

YouTube gives you suggestions on what to watch next based on your viewing history. If you want to step outside of your comfort zone, try searching for new videos in Incognito mode. That way you’ll get a new perspective on entertainment that isn’t based on your past. You can do the same with your Google searches.

RELATED: Discover new artists you’ll live with this cool music finder

6. View a site as an outsider

Do you have your own website and want to see what it looks like to others or when you’re not signed in? You can check it out in Incognito mode for a fresh perspective.

As you can see, there are tons of reasons to use Incognito mode even though it might not be as private as you’d hope for. Take advantage of these ideas and you’ll never have to worry about ruining the surprise of a special anniversary gift again.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment with the ad-free Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the Tech Forum.

Join Now