How to Always Start Any Browser in Private Browsing Mode

Private browsing mode doesn’t offer complete privacy, but it does prevent your browser from saving your history, searches, cookies, and other private data between browsing sessions. You can have your browser always start in private browsing mode if you prefer it.

Most people won’t want to use private browsing mode permanently. You will have to log into the websites you use each time you open your browser, as your browser won’t save the cookies that keep your login state.

Google Chrome

To activate Google Chrome’s incognito mode by default, you must add a command line option to its shortcut.

First, locate the shortcut you use to launch Google Chrome—either on your taskbar, desktop, Start menu. Right-click it and select “Properties”.

If you’re using a taskbar shortcut, you’ll have to right-click the Google Chrome shortcut on your taskbar, right-click “Google Chrome” in the menu that appears, and then select “Properties”.

Add -incognito to the end of the text in the Target box. That’s a space, one dash, and then the word incognito.

Click “OK” to save your changes after adding this option.

Google Chrome will now start in incognito mode when you launch it from this shortcut. If you use other shortcuts to launch Google Chrome, you will also need to modify them.

To undo this change in the future, edit your shortcuts and remove the -incognito text you added.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox allows you to automatically enable private browsing mode via its options window. Click menu > Options to open it.

Click the “Privacy” tab at the left side of the window to access your privacy settings. Under History, click the “Firefox will” box and select “Never remember history”. You’ll be prompted to restart Firefox.

Firefox will now always use the same settings it uses in private browsing mode, although it won’t display its normal private browsing interface. It will just look like a normal Firefox browser window.

To undo this change in the future, return to this pane and tell Firefox to remember your history again.

Apple Safari

The Safari browser on macOS includes an option that allows you to always open it in private browsing mode. To find it, open Safari and click Safari > Preferences.

On the General pane, click the “Safari opens with” box and select “A new private window”. When you open Safari in the future, it will open in private browsing mode.

To undo this change in the future, return here and tell Safari to open with “A new window” instead.

Microsoft Edge

The ability to always open Edge in InPrivate Browsing mode is one of the many features Microsoft Edge doesn’t yet offer. Microsoft may one day add this feature to Edge in a future update to Windows 10.

Internet Explorer

If you’re using Internet Explorer, you will need to add a command-line option to your Internet Explorer shortcuts to activate InPrivate Browsing by default.

Locate the shortcut you use to launch Internet Explorer, right-click it, and select Properties. If you’re using a taskbar shortcut, you’ll need to right-click Internet Explorer on the taskbar, right-click “Internet Explorer” again, and select Properties.

Add -private to the end of the Target box. That’s a space, one dash, and then the word private. Click OK to save your changes.

Internet Explorer will now start with InPrivate Browsing enabled when you launch it via this shortcut. If you use other shortcuts to launch Internet Explorer, you will need to modify each one.

To undo this change in the future, edit your Internet Explorer shortcuts and remove the -private text you added from the target box.


Remember that your browser won’t be able to save login states, websites preferences, or any other type of data if you do this. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.