Private Browsing - Use Firefox without saving history

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Private Browsing does not save your browsing information, such as history and cookies, and leaves no trace after you end the session. Firefox also has Enhanced Tracking Protection, which prevents hidden trackers from collecting your data across multiple sites and slowing down your browsing.

Want to learn more? See the SmartBlock for Enhanced Tracking Protection article.

Important: Private Browsing does not make you anonymous on the Internet. Your Internet service provider, employer, or the sites themselves can still gather information about pages you visit. Private Browsing also doesn't protect you from keyloggers or spyware that may be installed on your computer. To learn more, see Common Myths about Private Browsing.

How do I open a new Private Window?

There are two ways to open a new Private Window:

Open a new Private Window from the Firefox menu

  • Click the menu button Fx57Menu and then click New Private Window.
    Fx63menu-NewPrivateWindowNewPrivatewin89

The Private Browsing home page will open in a new window.

Open a link in a new Private Window

  • Right-clickHold down the control key while you click on any link and choose Open Link in New Private Window from the context menu.
    Link in Private Window Fx20 Win7Link in Private Window Fx20 MacLink in Private Window Fx20 Lin
Tip: Private Browsing windows have a purple mask at the top.
private mask 57 winprivate mask 57private mask 57 linux

What does Private Browsing not save?

  • Visited pages: Pages will not be added to the list of sites in the History menu, the Library window's history list, nor in the address bar drop-down list.
  • Form and Search Bar entries: Nothing you enter into text boxes on web pages nor the Search bar will be saved for Form autocomplete.
  • Download List entries: Files you download will not be listed in the Downloads Window after you turn off Private Browsing.
  • Cookies: Cookies store information about websites you visit, such as site preferences, and login status. Cookies can also be used by third parties to track you across websites. See the How do I turn on the Do Not Track feature? article to learn more about tracking. Cookies set in private windows are held temporarily in memory, separate from regular window cookies, and discarded at the end of your private session (after the last private window is closed).
  • Cached Web Content and Offline Web Content and User Data: Temporary Internet files (cached files) and files that websites save for offline use will not be saved.
Note:
  • New passwords and bookmarks you create while using Private Browsing will be saved.
  • Any files you download to your computer while using Private Browsing will be saved.

Can I set Firefox to always use Private Browsing?

Firefox is set to remember history by default, but you can change this setting in your Firefox Privacy OptionsPreferencesSettings :

  1. In the Menu bar at the top of the screen, click Firefox and select Preferences. Click the menu button Fx57Menu and select OptionsPreferences.Click the menu button Fx89menuButton and select Settings.

  2. Select the Privacy & Security panel and go to the History section.
    Fx63CustomHistory
  3. Choose Use custom settings for history from the drop-down menu and check the Always use private browsing mode setting.
    • Alternatively, you can select Never remember history from the drop-down menu, which is equivalent to always being in Private Browsing mode.
  4. Restart Firefox.
Important: When Firefox is set to Always use private browsing mode or to Never remember history, you won't see a purple mask at the top of each window, even though you are in Private Browsing mode. To restore normal browsing, go to your Privacy & Security OptionsPreferencesSettings and uncheck Always use private browsing mode from your Use custom settings for history settings (or select Remember history from the drop-down menu) and restart Firefox.

Other ways to control what information Firefox saves

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