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How to go incognito in Safari on Mac

There may be times when you want complete privacy while browsing the web. Maybe you don’t want others to know which websites you visit or what items you download, or you may also just want to prevent sites from tracking you across browser tabs. The best way to achieve that is by learning how to go incognito in Safari on a Mac.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Mac computer

  • Safari browser

how to go incognito on mac safari open new private window
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How to go incognito on Mac with private browsing in Safari

When you want to initiate a private browsing session in Safari on Mac, you have a few easy ways to do it.

  • Use the Safari menu: With Safari open and active, select File from the menu bar and choose New Private Window.
  • Use the Safari icon in the Dock: If you keep the Safari icon in your Dock, right-click it and select New Private Window.
  • Use a keyboard shortcut: With Safari open and active, press Shift + Command + N on your keyboard.

Once you open a new private window, you’ll notice the appearance is slightly different. The Smart Search field (URL bar) has a dark background with white text.

You’ll also see a message letting you know that private browsing is enabled. Select the X on the right side to dismiss the message and then visit the websites you want.

how to go incognito on mac safari private browsing enabled
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What happens when you use private browsing?

Although you can browse the web as you normally would in Safari, there are some differences when you use private browsing.

  • Any sites you visit, AutoFill details you use, or changes you make to cookies or website data are not saved.
  • Your recent searches are unavailable in the Smart Search field.
  • Items you download do not display in the Safari downloads list. However, they are still viewable in your Downloads folder.
  • You cannot pass private windows using Handoff to your other devices.
  • Any webpages you visit are not stored in iCloud and therefore unavailable when viewing Safari tabs on your other devices.
  • Websites cannot track your browsing across tabs in Safari because each private browsing tab is isolated from the next.
how to go incognito on mac safari open new window
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to exit private browsing in Safari

When you finish using private browsing, you can simply close the Safari window. You can then select File > New Window or use the keyboard shortcut Command + N to initiate a non-private browsing session.

how to go incognito on mac safari always new private window
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How to always use private browsing in Safari

One additional way to go incognito on Mac is to always use private browsing in Safari. With a simple setting adjustment, you can have Safari open in a private window every single time.

Step 1: Open Safari and select Safari > Preferences from the menu bar.

Step 2: Go to the General tab.

Step 3: Pick the drop-down next to Safari opens with and choose A new private window.

Step 4: Close the Preferences using the X on the top left corner.

Once you change this setting, you’ll use private browsing each time you open Safari. If you change your mind later, you can follow the same steps and select a different option in the Safari opens with drop-down list.

It’s easy to go incognito on a Mac, whether you go once in a while or all the time. Will you?

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Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy has been writing about technology since 2012. Her work has appeared on How-To Geek, Lifewire, MakeUseOf, iDownloadBlog…
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