Web Browser: Opening a Private or Incognito Window

This service is for faculty, staff, and students.

What is a Private or Incognito Window 

When you surf the web private/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. Other things to note about private/incognito browsing:

  • One of the great advantages of going Incognito, is it enables you to sign in to multiple accounts simultaneously.
    • For example, you could log into your work account from an Incognito window whilst remaining in your personal account from a normal window. Similarly, if you had a friend over that wanted to log into their social media account, they could do this in a separate incognito window so you wouldn’t have to log out of your own account.
    • Similarly, if you have multiple accounts through one provider (example: a UST and UMN Outlook email or a personal and a UST Zoom account) using a private/incognito window will prevent your browser from always auto-logging you into the first one you access from it.
  • It deletes cookies after an active browser session is closed.
    • Cookies are generally used to create a more tailored and relevant browsing session.
    • By tracking your cookies, websites can follow you around the web, build a detailed profile of your online habits and then use this information to send you targeted ads.
    • If you have Incognito Mode enabled, browsers will delete these cookies when you log out keeping your personal preferences private.
  • Private/Incognito browsing keeps your browsing history more private.
    • If you need to use a public computer to check an email or shop online, there’s a good chance the computer will store your browsing history. This means that the next person who logs on could potentially see every single site you’ve visited and even log into these sites using your details. Incognito Mode will prevent this from happening by erasing any temporary browsing data as soon as you log out.

Opening a Private or Incognito Window 

Directions differ a little between the major browsers. Links below will bring you to instructions for your preferred browser.


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Article ID: 123198
Tue 12/22/20 3:17 PM
Mon 9/25/23 7:39 PM

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