As companies collect more and more data every day, whether it’s for advertising or analytics purposes, it seems like we get less and less space for privacy, especially on the web.
While regulations such as GDPR (in the EU) and CCPA (in California) carry strong consumer privacy protection policies, they don’t yet fully protect us from nearly every website collecting our private information. So we need to take matters in our own hands today and get proficient with such tools as ad blockers, VPNs (virtual private networks), end-to-end encryption, and of course private browsing. And here’s your quick primer on all of them below.
What Is Incognito Mode And When To Use It
The easiest step to more privacy you can make today is to turn on incognito mode, which is also known as privacy mode. What it essentially does is it prevents your browser from remembering any website or web apps you visit, which in turn prevents those websites from tracking you down since they can’t save their trackers (called cookies) on your computer.
Currently all browsers (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Chrome) have a private tab or incognito tab functionality built in, and you can also use it across all of your devices. Let’s learn how.
How to keep your web history private
Before we jump into how to go incognito on your devices, we need to address the browsing history and data that have been possibly sitting on your Mac for years. Remember that having history turned on not only saves the website you visit to your Mac but also displays them when you type any search query or URL in your address bar, which makes private searching difficult as well. So how do you delete all of this data in one go and make sure that no sensitive information is left? There’s a trick just for that.
CleanMyMac X is an all-encompassing Mac optimization tool that lets you perform dozens of complex scans and system tasks, which are nearly impossible to find otherwise, from scanning for malware to enhancing your privacy mode.
To completely delete all browsing data from your Mac with CleanMyMac X:
Open the app and navigate to the Privacy tab under Protection
Check all your browsers (e.g Safari, Chrome)
Go into every browser and specify the exact information you’d like to get rid of
How to enable private browsing on iPhone and iPad
Once you clear all the browsing data from your Mac, the change should propagate throughout your mobile devices, thanks to iCloud. Next, it’s good to learn how to search incognito on your iPhone and iPad — not even necessarily because someone might steal your phone and look through your history, but rather because all the searching on your iPhone or iPad shows up when someone tries to look something up on your Mac.
To turn on private browsing Safari includes on Apple devices (which has been available since iOS 5):
Open your Safari app
Tap the tabs icon in the lower right
Tap Private and then the plus (+) icon
When you have an incognito tab open, it turns your address bar a dark gray color.
How to open incognito tabs on Mac
While iPhone and iPad work with Safari most of the time, users on Macs use a variety of browsers, each one with its own privacy controls, whether it’s Chrome incognito mode or Firefox private browsing. Let’s see how to turn on and how to turn off incognito mode on Mac with the most popular browsers today.
Safari: Starting macOS Catalina, Safari (v.13.1) is now blocking all cross-site tracking by default, which is great news for the privacy of every user. Additionally, Safari has an option to remove history items automatically every day, week, month, or year. This can be selected in Safari ➙ Preferences ➙ Remove history items.
To enable incognito mode Macs can use on Safari:
When Safari is active, click File in your menu bar
Select New Private Window (⌘ + Shift + N)
Firefox: As one of the most popular independent browsers, Firefox has lots of useful privacy settings. First of all, Safari offers Enhanced Tracing Protection to block social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, tracking in Private Windows, and more. You can enable this from Firefox’s Preferences (⌘ + ,) when you go to the Privacy & Security tab. In the same tab, you can also check the box to “Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed” and set the dropdown to “Never remember history” or “Clear history when Firefox closes.”
To start Firefox private browsing, however:
Open Firefox and click on File in the menu bar
Choose New Private Window (or use a shortcut ⌘ + Shift + P)
Chrome: When it comes to keeping information private, Chrome is not the leading app, given that it’s created by Google, which relies on getting your data to sell more ads. However, it still gives you an option to open Chrome incognito tabs. In incognito, the browser doesn’t remember your history and doesn’t save cookies, website data, or information entered in forms. It also disables all extensions.
To turn on the private search mode in Chrome:
Open the browser
Go to File ➙ New Incognito Window (⌘ + Shift + N)
How to enter complete privacy with a VPN
Even if you diligently delete your history, frequently search incognito, and block various trackers and ads, your profile is still being exposed to the websites you visit, to your employer (if you’re on a corporate network), and to your ISP (internet service provider). Moreover, every time you use unsecured WiFi (e.g. in a cafe), your traffic is there for anyone to intercept. So what do you do?
Shimo is a full-featured VPN client for Mac, which allows you to hide your identity by funnelling all your web traffic through an encrypted server before reaching its destination. This way, everyone will see that the traffic is coming through a third-party server, but no one would know who you are. Moreover, you can often pick different servers in different countries, which might actually help you sidestep some geographical restrictions (e.g. watch the US Netflix).
Overall, Shimo takes just second to configure and offers you an extra layer of privacy that you so need in modern times.
How to keep your emails private on Mac
With your browsing completely covered by using private tabs and Shimo, how else can you safeguard your private information? One example is switching your regular email client to something more secure and perhaps even encrypted.
Canary Mail is one of the most secure and robust email clients in the world. Simply enable automatic encryption and your emails would instantly become unreadable by any third party. In addition, Canary Mail offers an incredible toolkit for delegating, Inbox Zero, reminders and follow-ups, searching old mail and unsubscribing from any newsletter with a single click.
Now you can see how your life can become much more private if you just turn on the private mode in your browser by default, as well as clean your browsing history with CleanMyMac X, protect your identity with Shimo, and hide your emails with Canary Mail. One extra step? Switch your search engine from Google to something more private like DuckDuckGo.
Best of all, CleanMyMac X, Shimo, and Canary Mail are available to you absolutely free of charge for seven days via Setapp, a platform with more than 170 high-quality Mac apps that always keep your privacy in mind. Try it today and see all the apps you can really trust.