Skip to main content

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

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

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

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

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?

Editors' Recommendations

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy has been writing about technology since 2012. Her work has appeared on How-To Geek, Lifewire, MakeUseOf, iDownloadBlog…
How to change your Mac’s screen resolution in macOS Ventura
The MacBook Pro open on a wooden table.

Changing your Mac’s screen resolution in macOS Ventura should be a straightforward process, but it’s not actually as obvious as we would like it to be. That’s because not only will your options vary depending on whether you have an external monitor connected to your Mac, but in some situations, the resolution choices are secreted behind a well-hidden menu.

Read more
MacBook Pro M2 Pro/M2 Max buying guide: how to make the right choice
The MacBook Pro open on a wooden table.

Apple's MacBook Pro has emerged as among the best laptops you can buy in the 14-inch laptop and 16-inch laptop spaces. The newest versions have been upgraded to Apple's M2 Pro and M2 Max CPUs, which build on the original with more cores, faster speeds, and even better efficiency.

The laptops are highly configurable, at least when it comes to the CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage, and so you have some choices to make when selecting your machine. This guide will go over some of the more salient points to help you make the best decision.
Large or small?

Read more
How to fix audio issues in macOS
Apple MacBook Gold 2015 speaker grill

If you have been particularly bugged by sound problems ever since upgrading to the latest version of macOS, this is the place to be. Let's go through the most common macOS audio problems and show you how a little tinkering with settings can typically set things right.


Read more