Private Browsing

What Does Private Browsing Mean?

Private browsing is a privacy feature present in some Web browsers that disables Web cache, cookies, browsing history or any other tracking feature that the browser may have. This allows the user to browse the Web without leaving traces such as local data that can later be retrieved. One major feature of private browsing is disabling data storage through cookies, which is a way for websites to track and record a user’s activities.


Private browsing is also known as privacy mode or incognito mode.

Techopedia Explains Private Browsing

Private browsing is a mode where all the privacy features of the Web browser are activated without having to manually set them individually, such as setting cookies to off and clearing the browsing history. When using private browsing mode none of this data is stored. It became widely available in May 2005, when it was included in the Safari Browser which came with Mac OS X Tiger.

Private browsing essentially removes any tracking of user’s Web activities from the local machine, and by extension, the website that the user is visiting. The best example is the use, or rather disuse of cookies, that are used by websites to track user activities and store data. For example, this is used by websites such as Amazon to know a user’s previously browsed products and keep a user logged in to the site even after the browser has been closed and the computer turned off. This can be problematic since cookies are often used for user convenience, such as not having to log in again every time the browser is closed or not having to search again for products viewed in an online store. In most cases the main reason for using private browsing is if one is using a public computer. This saves the user the trouble of having to logout or having to clear the browsing history manually.


Related Terms

Latest Internet Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…