Private browsing. Incognito. Privacy mode. Since the dawn of the Internet, this particular feature has been known by a variety of names. This feature, which was initially introduced in the Safari browser in 2005, soon spread as other browsers replicated it, tweaked it, and made minor improvements. Basically, this feature allows you to cover your tracks online.
However, labels that promise privacy might be deceptive. Simply put, going “incognito” is about as effective as using witchcraft to protect you from the common cold.
That’s because private browsing is designed to erase local traces of where you’ve been, what you’ve looked for, and the contents of forms you’ve completed. Its purpose is to disguise your tracks from those who have access to your computer but not always successfully.
That being said, if you’re using Mozilla Firefox, then you should definitely try out their private browser. Today, we’re going to take you through how to use private browsing on Firefox and what to keep in mind when you switch from the standard browsing window to a private one.
Recommended Read: How to use a private browser on Chrome
How to Use Private Browsing on Firefox
Private browsing in Firefox is a little different than in other browsers. Firefox now offers tracking protection in addition to not recording your online browsing history. This will prevent sections of websites from tracking your browser history across various websites.
Have you ever gone to a travel website to conduct some research for a vacation and then saw advertisements for the same location when browsing other websites? As you browse, you are being monitored. When you’re using Firefox in private mode, this won’t happen.
Here’s how you enable and use private mode in Firefox.
Enable and Use Private Mode in Firefox for Computers
To enable private surfing in Firefox, click New Private Window from the hamburger menu at the top right.
You may also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + P or if you’re using a Mac, then enter Shift + ⌘ + P.
Because of the mask in the upper right corner of the window, you’ll know you’re in private mode.
Open a Link in Private Browsing Mode
You can also open specific links in private mode by following these steps:
- To open a context menu, right-click the link on the current web page. On Mac, you have to hold the Ctrl key when right-clicking on the link.
- Select Open Link in New Private Window.
The link’s destination page should be displayed in a private tab or window. To be sure you’re in Private mode, look for the purple and white mask in the page’s title bar.
Automatically Use Private Browsing in Firefox
Although not strictly in Private Browsing mode, you may configure Firefox to make each session private.
- Access your Firefox General Settings by tapping on the hamburger icon in the upper right hand corner.
- Select Privacy & Security from the Firefox General settings.
- Scroll down to the History section, then pick Never remember history from the Firefox will drop-down option.
- To use this feature, you must restart your browser. Select Restart Firefox now from the drop-down menu.
Even if the purple and white Private Browser mask isn’t visible, Firefox won’t save your browsing history or other information as long as this setting is active.
Use Private Browser on Firefox for iOS Devices
Firefox for iOS is a sleek and customizable app that offers plenty of privacy and security for a safe browsing experience. In order to open a private browser window on Firefox for iPhone, you’d have to follow these steps.
- Open the Firefox app on your iPhone.
- Tap on the tab icon in the footer of the browser.
- In the new window, you will find a mask icon in the footer, tap on it to open the private window.
- Now, tap on the + icon to open a new private tab in Firefox.
If you’re looking to close the private window in Firefox, you will have to open the tabs icon and then tap on the mask icon and close the tabs that are open.
Use Private Browser on Firefox for Android Devices
Quite similar to the iOS flow, you can start a private browsing session on your Android device by following a few steps:
- Open the Firefox app by tapping on the icon. Once the app opens, click on the mask button located at the top of the screen to enable Private browsing.
- Search for the web address by entering it in the address bar. What ever you open will be in private and no cookies or site data gets stored.
You can switch between the private browser and the standard Firefox browser window by tapping on the numeric icon near the address bar. Click on the mask icon to view the list of private tabs that are open and tap on the square to pull up the standard browser tabs that are open in the background.
You are able to close private windows by tapping on the X next to each open tab. Similarly, tapping on the vertical three dots at the top of the page will let you close all private browsers in one go.
Features bundled with Private Browsing
Firefox Tracking Protection – With Tracking Protection, Firefox goes beyond private surfing. It prevents businesses from tracking you across the internet. It makes use of a compiled list of tracking sites from https://disconnect.me. Tracking Protection prevents cookies from accessing any of the sites in the list.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers – Although the Firefox Multi-Account Containers add-on isn’t exactly a type of private browsing or tracking protection, it can assist in avoiding corporations from tracking your online activities. It allows you to start new, cookie-free tabs for various accounts—personal, work, shopping, and so on. That means you can utilize Multi-Account Containers to create many Google accounts at the same time without having to worry about them colliding. Most trackers will not link the different accounts, allowing you to keep your professional and personal lives distinct online. However, some more powerful trackers can and can monitor you across several accounts, so be cautious.
What data Is not stored while using the Firefox private browser?
During a browsing session, Firefox saves a lot of information on your computer. A lot of this data is either never kept locally or immediately deleted when you close a private tab or window when Private Browsing mode is enabled. This is useful when using a shared computer to browse the internet.
At the end of a Firefox Private Browsing session, the following data is not left behind:
- Download history
- Browsing history
- Web form information
- Search bar keywords
- Saved passwords
Is Incognito/Private Mode Really Private?
Incognito or private mode will keep your local surfing secret, but your ISP, school, or workplace will still be able to see where you’ve been online. In reality, regardless of what you do, your ISP has access to all of your surfing behavior.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, on the other hand, is an option. VPN services route traffic through remote servers, giving the impression that you’re browsing from another or several locations.
However, because VPN providers can watch your online behavior, it’s important to select a business you can trust to either delete or lock down your browsing history. Advertisers’ third-party cookies will not be blocked by VPNs, but such cookies will be unable to properly identify your location, making ad trackers less effective.
Tor Browser is capable of completely concealing your internet activities. It reroutes traffic via a number of servers throughout the world, making it harder to monitor. The website you’re visiting has no clue where you are; all it knows is the approximate location of the last server via which your request was routed.
However, even using a Tor proxy will not prevent third-party marketers from placing cookies in your browser. When Tor Browser is closed, it deletes all cookies. People may also erase their cookies by starting a new session with Tor Browser.
Common Myths about Private Browsing
|Private Browsing makes you anonymous on the Internet||Private Browsing has no effect on your online presence or activity. Even if you are not signed in, websites and Internet service providers can collect information about your visit. Your company may be able to track the websites you visit if you use your device at work. Your cable company (or its partners) may have access to your browsing information if you surf the Internet at home|
|Private Browsing removes all traces of your browsing activity from your computer||Private Browsing works by allowing you to surf in a Private Window without saving passwords, cookies, or browsing history. When you download a file from a website, it stays on your computer but does not appear in Firefox’s download manager. When you bookmark a website in a Private Window, it stays in your bookmark list|
|Private Browsing doesn’t display any browsing history||As you write in the address bar, Private Browsing will reveal visited sites and bookmarks by default. During normal browsing, these pages were stored in Firefox. You may turn off these suggestions in the Firefox Settings Privacy & Security section under Address Bar if you don’t want to see them|
|Private Browsing will protect you from keystroke loggers and spyware||Private Browsing does not protect you from malware that has been installed on your machine. Take actions to eliminate malware if you suspect you have it to avoid it from happening again|
Overall, Firefox’s implementation of private browsing is excellent in terms of privacy and security, and it is highly recommended for anyone who needs to keep their browsing history hidden.
- How to use private browser on Chrome
- How to use private browser on iPad
- Best private browser for Android
Daniel Moore is the Founder & Editor-in-chief of Private-Spy, an experienced hacker, lecturer and an all-round fun guy! A writer by day and reader by night, he holds a Master’s degree in Computer applications and believes that privacy is our god given right. Daniel has been known to have published in-depth guides and tutorials that have been used by millions of people across the world.