Does Firefox Have Private Browsing?

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Sometimes we want to keep our Internet browsing to ourselves. In Mozilla Firefox, you can easily switch to private browsing mode to prevent any traces of your activities from being stored in Firefox's records. In addition to switching between privacy and normal mode, Firefox provides additional privacy options that apply to every browsing session, as of February 2015.

When you are browsing in privacy mode, Firefox does not keep a history of visited pages, cached files, form entries, search bar histories, passwords or download list entries. Additionally, Firefox does not save cookies submitted by websites you visit. Private browsing, however, applies only to Firefox. It doesn't prevent your Internet service provider from tracking your history, for example.

Private windows in Firefox use a unique mask-shaped Privacy icon.
(Image courtesy of Mozilla.)
Step 1

Click the "Menu" button in the upper-right corner of a Firefox window and select "New Private Window" button in the drop-down menu. Note that your former windows remain open behind the new window.

Open a new private window from the Menu button.
Image courtesy of Mozilla.
Step 2

Observe the tab in the new window notifying you that "You are browsing privately." The mask-shaped Privacy icon also appears at the top of the window. Enter any URL in the address bar or search for content as you would in any browser window.

A new window in private browsing mode.
Image courtesy of Mozilla.
Step 3

Click on a link or open a new tab in a private window, and the new tab or window is private as well. When you have multiple windows open, look for the "Privacy" icon above the address bar to confirm you're in a private window. Close all private windows to leave privacy mode.

The Privacy icon appears only on private windows.
Image courtesy of Mozilla.
Step 1

Click the "Menu" icon in the upper-right corner of a Firefox window and select "Options." Click the "Privacy" tab in the Options window. Here, you can specify if you want websites to track your activity or not, as well as how Firefox should track your history.

Open Firefox's Privacy options.
Image courtesy of Mozilla.
Step 2

Click the "History" menu to specify if Firefox should remember your history or not. Choosing "Never Remember History" puts all windows in privacy mode, however the Privacy icon does not appear. Select the "Use Custom Settings for History" option to see the customization options.

Select "Use Custom Settings for History."
Image courtesy of Mozilla.
Step 3

Select the privacy options you want enabled in Firefox. For example, you can specify what kind of cookies Firefox accepts from websites. If you want to block cookies from most websites, but want cookies enabled for others, click the "Exceptions" button. If you want Firefox to remember your history, but delete it automatically when you close the last window, select the "Clear History When Firefox Closes" option check box. Click "OK" and then close all Firefox windows. The new settings take effect when Firefox restarts.

Specify your privacy options and click "OK."
Image courtesy of Mozilla.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most Web browsers include a privacy mode similar to that used by Firefox.
  • In Internet Explorer, InPrivate browsing is available in the Safety menu after clicking the "Menu" icon.
  • Google Chrome's Incognito Mode is available by clicking the "Menu" icon.
  • In Opera, right-click the Tab bar and select "New Private Tab."

References

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