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Sometimes, you’d like to check a website without leaving a record of it on your iPhone or iPad. Luckily, Safari includes a Private Browsing mode just for this purpose. Here’s how to use it.

What Is Private Browsing Mode?

While using Private Browsing mode on your iPhone or iPad, Safari will not save your your browsing history, AutoFill form information, changes to cookies, and recent searches when you close each Private Browsing window.

However, Private Browsing mode does not protect your browsing history from the host of your network (such as your business or school), your ISP, or websites that might use your IP address to track you across sites.

RELATED: The Many Ways Websites Track You Online

How to Use Private Browsing Mode on iPhone

First, open Safari. If you don’t see the toolbar at bottom of the screen, tap once to reveal it. Then tap the “New Window” button. It looks like two squares overlapping each other.

Tap open new window in Safari for iPhone

You’ll see a window management screen with a list of thumbnails representing all your open browser windows. On this screen, tap the “Private” button in the lower -left corner.

Tap Private button in Safari for iPhone

Private Browsing Mode is now enabled. Tap on the plus (+) button at the bottom of the screen to open a new Private window.

Tap plus in Private Browsing Mode in Safari for iPhone

From there, you can type in any address you want in the bar at the top or navigate by tapping on your favorites. In Private mode, you can use Safari as you usual, but it won’t keep a local record of what you’re doing.

iPhone Private Browsing Mode window

When you’re done and want to exit Private Browsing mode, tap the “New Window” button again, then tap the “Private” button in the lower-left corner. You will switch back to non-Private mode.

Keep in mind that switching back does not close your Private Browsing windows. To get rid of your Private Browsing windows, you will need to enable Private Browsing mode again and click the “X” on the upper left corner of each window thumbnail until they all disappear.

How to Use Private Browsing Mode on iPad

Private browsing on the iPad works the same as on the iPhone, but the buttons that enable it are in different locations on the screen. To activate Private Browsing, first launch Safari. If you don’t see the toolbar at the top of the screen, tap anywhere once to reveal it. Then tap on the “New Window” button in the upper-right corner.

Tap new window button in Safari on iPad

On Safari’s window management screen, tap the “Private” button in the upper-right corner.

Tap Private in Safari on iPad

After Private Mode is enabled, tap the plus (+) button in the toolbar to add a new window. From there, you can operate Safari as usual.

iPad Private Browsing Mode

If you want to exit Private Browsing on an iPad, just tap the new button window again (the two overlapping rectangles) and tap “Private.”

But be aware: if you just switch out of Private mode, Safari will keep your Private windows open in the background until you launch Private Browsing mode again. If you want to get rid of all of your Private Browsing windows, switch back to Private mode, tap the New Window button, and close each window with the small “X” in the corner of each thumbnail. Happy browsing!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 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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