Internet Explorer’s “private browsing” mode is an excellent way to hide what you’re looking at from prying eyes, but it’s normally hidden under a menu… but we can make it easier to access.

The Normal Way

To open an InPrivate Browsing window, you can either use the Ctrl+Shift+P shortcut key, or just use the Safety \ InPrivate Browsing item on the menu. On more modern versions of IE, you can find that through the Gear icon, and then Safety \ InPrivate Browsing as seen below.

Older versions of IE look like this:

And you’ll immediately see a private browsing window, which will leave no traces of your browsing history. Useful!

The other thing that private browsing is useful for is checking your email on somebody else’s computer – no danger of cookies lying around letting them back into your email account once you’ve gone.

Windows 7 or 8 Makes it Really Simple

If you are using Windows 7 or 8, all you have to do is right-click on the icon in the taskbar and choose the InPrivate option. You can also click and hold the left mouse button on the icon, and slide your mouse up… the menu will pop up and you can choose it there.

In other news, Windows 7 is awesome.

Create a Shortcut to Open Private Browsing Mode

If you haven’t made the switch to Windows 7 yet, or you just want to make a new shortcut, you can still create your own shortcut manually. Simply create a new shortcut to Internet Explorer, and add the following to the end (after the quotes).


The final path should look similar to this, depending on your system:

Give the icon a useful name indicating that it’s a private mode shortcut…

And now you have a shiny new icon to start up Internet Explorer in private browsing mode.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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