Private Browsing With Safari

Learn about Safari's private browsing mode. It will prevent pages you visit from being recorded in your search history, and erase cookies when you are done. But it will not hide your activity from your employer or ISP. It can be useful in some situations.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's take a look at Private Browsing in Safari.

So the way Private Browsing works in Maverick's version of Safari is you go to the Safari menu and you go to Private Browsing to turn on. You get this little warning here and it tells you basically exactly what Private Browsing is going to do.

It is going to not remember the pages you visit so it is not going to add the pages you visit to your search history. It's also going to not remember your search history. So when you actually search for something up here rather than adding an address it is not going to remember that either. It is also going to not remember any Autofill information. When you fill in forms it is automatically going to disregard that and not put that in your autofill.

Now to do this in Yosemite it is a little bit different. Instead of actually going to the Safari menu you go to the File menu. See where it says New Window here. You will have the opportunity to open up a new Private Browsing window and everything in that new window, all the tabs you open there, will be in Private Browsing mode. But you can still keep a window open with regular browsing mode. So you can have both side by side if you want.

So what does Private Browsing really do? Most people don't understand it. It doesn't actually do very much. As I said it does those three things but what does that really accomplish because your history is still being recorded and tracked elsewhere. If you are looking for a way to privately browse the internet where say your ISP or the company or organization you work for doesn't know where you are going Private Browsing is not going to do that at all.

They are still going to be able to track you through their servers. There is still a footprint left through your ISP or where you are going and there also may be a footprint on the site your are going to. So if you are logged in to say sites like Goggle, Facebook, etc., they are still going to remember what it is you are doing because you are logged into those accounts.

It is just your local history, stuff stored on your hard drive of your computer, that is not going to be recorded.

So what good is it? Well, it is good for hiding your browsing history from somebody that you share a computer with. Somebody that does not have access to all that stuff at Goggle and Facebook assuming they don't have your passwords of course.

If you are shopping for a gift for somebody or planning a surprise party it can come in handy because there are plenty of surprise gifts and parties that have been spoiled by people simply looking at Search History in the Browser.

It is also very useful if you are not using your own computer. If you are using a public computer or borrowing your friend's computer and you want to do some work on there you may want to go to Private Browsing mode so you are not adding your search history and your autofill information to theirs. It could be just not that you want to hide something from them but that you don't want to clutter up their work with your work.

It is also good as kind of a low level measure. For instance you are using your work computer to shop around for your next job. Well, you can't guarantee that your IT department isn't knowing exactly what you are doing but it may make you feel a little bit better to know at least if somebody were to come and sit at your cubicle and look at your search history they wouldn't see all that stuff.

Now let's say you are not using Private Browsing mode and you decide that maybe you should have been. Well, it is easy to cover your tracks here because all you need to do in Safari is go to History/Show History and you can see all your history there and you can actually clear this very easily. Go to History/Clear History here and you can clear it. You can see it empties it out.

You can also clear out Autofill information by going to Safari/Preferences and going to Autofill here and any one of these you can Edit here so you can see the everything on the list there. You can select one and remove it. Select multiple ones and to remove it do Command A to select all. If you have none selected you can remove all as well. So you have the opportunity to do it even after the fact.

If you are on a public computer and you realize you have been using Safari and you have had your search history recorded and you have had your autofill things put in you can use these to clear them out afterwards.

Now Private Browsing also does a couple other things. With Cookies what it does is it doesn't stop storing Cookies it just kind of resets them when you are done with Private Browsing. So it is very useful, for instance, if you want to log into a separate account, say Goggle accounts or Facebook accounts or something like that, to start Private Browsing and log into another account and then log out and when you are done you can then turn off Private Browsing. Your Cookies should reset to how they were before.

So if you are having trouble with some sites going back and forth in different accounts Private Browsing may help.

Also, if you use the iCloud feature where it shares your history between devices so you see what tabs are open on your Mac when you are looking at your iPad, Private Browsing will turn that off temporarily. So if you are shopping for gifts for somebody and they are on the iPad they won't be able to see what page you are looking at on the Mac.

So Private Browsing is not something the typical user needs to use at all. If you are using one Mac for multiple people everybody should have their own user account so you really don't need Private Browsing then. It really doesn't really protect you from anything like having your employer knowing what you are browsing or having your ISP knowing what your are browsing so it is not as private as you may thing.

It is kind of a specialty tool but it is good to know that it is there in case you need it.

Hope your found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.


Comments: 10 Responses to “Private Browsing With Safari”

    nick
    8/13/14 @ 7:21 am

    Gary
    to open a new, private browsing window, do you mean I open a new window first then turn on private browsing, which would not affect the Safari window that’s already open? thx

      8/13/14 @ 7:24 am

      Private browsing windows are a feature of Yosemite, but not in Mavericks or earlier. When you upgrade to Yosemite it will be a menu option under File.

    Thoughtful
    8/14/14 @ 2:51 pm

    I hoped private browsing would prevent follow-up sales pitches after a search. If it gets rid of cookies, won’t this help?

      8/14/14 @ 2:58 pm

      Yes, it will. But only if you use it, which is probably not convenient in some cases. You need to remember to turn it on, and then go to the site that you think does the follow-up ad, and then turn it off when you are done. But if you are logged into a site (Facebook, Google, etc) then it isn’t necessarily relying on cookies. So this would only work on a site that you aren’t a “member” of.

    Thoughtful
    8/14/14 @ 3:41 pm

    Such as Amazon, ebay? . If not, perhaps bps only useful ,as you say, for others sharing computer?

      8/14/14 @ 3:58 pm

      Right. Wouldn’t be useful on those usually, since you would be logged into your user account when at those sites.

    Pav
    8/15/14 @ 12:22 am

    I use Private browsing on my iPad as the quickest way to close all Safari windows. Just switch to private browsing and then back again.

Comments Closed.