Using Safari to Browse Privately and Securely

When you browse the web, Safari stores information about the websites you visit. If you’ve turned on password saving in AutoFill preferences, Safari also stores any usernames and passwords you use. While these features are both powerful and convenient, they can also be a security risk, especially if you browse the web on a Mac that’s also used by other people. Others would easily be able to view your browser history and stored passwords. To prevent others from gaining access to this information, use Private Browsing, available in Safari for Mac OS X and Safari for iOS 7.

When Private Browsing is enabled, webpages are not added to the history list, the names of downloads are removed from the Downloads window, AutoFill information isn’t saved, and searches are not added to the search field’s pop-up menu. Websites can’t modify information stored on your computer, so services normally available at such sites may work differently until you turn off Private Browsing. Any changes made to cookies are discarded when you turn off Private Browsing. Plug-ins that support Private Browsing also stop storing cookies and other tracking information.

How to turn on Private Browsing on Mac OS X

  1. While browsing a webpage using Safari, choose Safari > Private Browsing.
  2. When you see a confirmation message, click OK. A Private button appears in the address field to indicate that private browsing is on.

Note: To skip the confirmation message, hold down the Option key while you choose Private Browsing.

Private Browsing is turned off by default when you open Safari, even if it was on when you last quit Safari.

How to turn on Private Browsing on iOS 7

  1. While browsing a webpage using Safari, tap on the tabs button in the lower right-hand corner
  2. Tap on the "Private" button on the lower left-hand corner

You will know when Private Browsing is enabled because the surrounding window colors turn a dark gray color. Private Browsing will remain on until you turn the feature off again (using the same instructions), even if you quit Safari and re-open.


Posted on June 18, 2014 and filed under How To, Mac.