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Google Chrome normally remembers your browsing history. You can put a stop to that, though, if you set it to always open in Incognito mode. Here’s how you can set up Chrome for private browsing.

What Is Incognito Mode?

Incognito is the private browsing mode in Chrome. When you use it, Chrome doesn’t locally store your browsing history, cookies, site data, or any information you type in forms between sessions. A session ends when you close all open Chrome windows. Downloads and bookmarks are still saved unless you clear them manually.

It’s important to know that Incognito doesn’t prevent you from being tracked by third parties across the Internet. These include ISPs, any organization you browse at (such as a school or office), or websites like Facebook, that keep track of your activities across the web via your IP address.

RELATED: How Private Browsing Works, and Why It Doesn't Offer Complete Privacy

How to Always Start Google Chrome in Incognito Mode on Windows 10

To launch Chrome in Incognito mode by default, you have to add a command-line option to a shortcut that launches Chrome. While that might sound scary, it’s actually not that hard to do.

First, locate the shortcut you use to launch Chrome. This might be in the Start Menu or taskbar, or on your Desktop. Right-click the Chrome icon, and then in the popup, right-click “Google Chrome” and select “Properties.”

Select "Properties."

A Properties window for the shortcut appears. In the “Shortcut” tab, locate the “Target” text field.

Locate the "Target" text field for the Google Chrome shortcut.

The Target box will contain something similar to the following:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe.”

This is the path to the Google Chrome application that runs every time you click the shortcut.

You’re going to modify the contents of the Target box by adding something to the end. Click the text field and position your cursor at the end of the path. Press the spacebar, and then type “-incognito” at the end of the path in the text box.

The Target box should now contain the path to the Chrome app in quotation marks, and the text you just typed, as shown in the image below.

" -incognito" at the end of the path in the Target box for a Google Chrome shortcut.

Click “OK” to close the Properties window. If you click “Apply,” you might get a warning; ignore it and click “OK.”

The next time you open Chrome from that shortcut, it will automatically launch in Incognito mode.

Incognito mode in Google Chrome on Windows 10.

Keep in mind that Chrome will only start in Incognito mode if you launch it from the shortcut you just modified. When you’re finished with your session, make sure you close all open Chrome windows.

If you have trouble launching Chrome from the shortcut you modified, double-check that you didn’t make a typo in the “Target” box. If all else fails, remove or delete the shortcut, create a new one, and then try modifying it again.

How to Remove Incognito Mode

If you want Chrome to launch in regular mode once again, you can remove the “-incognito” option at the end of the path in the Target box. You can also simply unpin or delete that shortcut to Chrome and create a new one.

After you configure Chrome, you might want to set up a custom Windows 10 user account for each person who uses your PC. This gives everyone more privacy, and each person can also configure Windows 10 to suit his or her preferences.

RELATED: How to Create a New Local User Account in Windows 10

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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