Google Chrome Hero

If you ever need to do some private browsing in Google Chrome, it’s easy to quickly open an Incognito window using a keyboard shortcut. In this special mode, your browsing history won’t be stored on your local machine. Here’s how to launch it.

First, open Chrome. With any Chrome browser window open, press the following keyboard combination to open a new Incognito window:

  • Windows, Linux, or Chromebook: Press Ctrl+Shift+N
  • Mac: Press Command+Shift+N

After pressing the keyboard shortcut, a special Incognito window will open.

A Google Chrome Incognito Mode Window

Whenever you’re in Incognito mode, you’ll be able to tell because the Chrome browser window’s toolbar will have a darker color scheme and there will be a small incognito icon beside the address bar in the toolbar.

The Google Chrome Incognito logo in the toolbar

While browsing within an Incognito window, Chrome will not locally store your browsing history, site data, cookies, or saved form data once you close the Incognito window. However, downloaded files and bookmarks will be saved unless you manually remove them.

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At any time, you can press Ctrl+T (or Command+T on Mac) to open a new tab within the Incognito window, and browsing activity within that tab will be locally private as well.

Remember that Incognito mode isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t protect you from those who might view your activity on the web remotely, such as your employer, school, ISP, or the websites you visit. It’s only to prevent local snooping of your browsing history.

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

When you’re ready to stop private browsing, you’ll need to close the Incognito window. To do so using a keyboard shortcut, press Alt+F4 on Windows and Linux, or Command+Shift+W on a Mac. Or you can just click the “X” in the corner of the window with your mouse. Stay safe out there!

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. 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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