Private Browsing - Browse the web without saving information about the sites you visit

Revision Information
  • Revision id: 37588
  • Created:
  • Creator: Verdi
  • Comment: Fx 20 Updates - Work in progress - DO NOT APPROVE
  • Reviewed: No
  • Ready for localization: No
Revision Source
Revision Content

As you browse the web, Firefox remembers lots of information for you: sites you've visited, files you've downloaded, and more. There may be times, however, when you don't want other users on your computer to see this information, such as when shopping for a birthday present.

Private Browsing allows you to browse the Internet without saving any information about which sites and pages you’ve visited. This article explains what information is not saved when in Private Browsing and gives you step-by-step instructions for using it.

Warning: Private Browsing doesn't make you anonymous on the Internet. Your Internet service provider, employer, or the sites themselves can still track what pages you visit. Private Browsing also doesn't protect you from keyloggers or spyware that may be installed on your computer.

What does Private Browsing not save?

  • Visited pages: No pages will be added to the list of sites in the History menu, the Library window's history list, or the Awesome Bar address list.
  • Form and Search Bar entries: Nothing you enter into text boxes on web pages or the Search bar will be saved for Form autocomplete.
  • Passwords: No new passwords will be saved.
  • Download List entries: No files you download will be listed in the Downloads Window after you turn off Private Browsing.
  • Cookies: Cookies store information about websites you visit such as site preferences, login status, and data used by plugins like Adobe Flash. Cookies can also be used by third parties to track you across websites. For more info about tracking, see How do I turn on the Do Not Track feature?
    Note: To prevent Flash from storing cookies, you must be using its latest version. See Updating Flash for instructions.
  • Web cache files: No temporary Internet files or cached files from web pages will be saved.
  • Visited pages: No pages will be added to the list of sites in the History menu, the Library window's history list, or the Awesome Bar address list.
  • Form and Search Bar entries: Nothing you enter into text boxes on web pages or the Search bar will be saved for Form autocomplete.
  • Passwords: No new passwords will be saved.
  • Download List entries: No files you download will be listed in the Downloads Window after you turn off Private Browsing.
  • Cookies: Cookies store information about websites you visit such as site preferences, login status, and data used by plugins like Adobe Flash. Cookies can also be used by third parties to track you across websites. For more info about tracking, see How do I turn on the Do Not Track feature?
    Note: To prevent Flash from storing cookies, you must be using its latest version. See Updating Flash for instructions.
  • Cached Web Content and Offline Web Content and User Data: No temporary Internet files (cached files) or files that websites save for offline use will be saved.
Note:
  • If you create new Bookmarks while using Private Browsing, they will not be removed when you stop Private Browsing.
  • If you save files to your computer while using Private Browsing, they will not be deleted when you stop Private Browsing. However, any files you open in an external application will be cleared from the system's temporary folder, and none of the files you download will appear in the Downloads list.

How do I open a new Private Window?

To open a new, blank Private Window:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the File menu and select New Private Window.

    fx20 new private window - file menu
    At the top of the Firefox window, click the Firefox button and select New Private Window.On the menu bar, click the Tools menu and select New Private Window.At the top of the Firefox window, click the Tools menu and select New Private Window.
  2. A new Private Browsing window appears with information to confirm that Firefox won't remember any history for this window.

When in Private Browsing mode, the window title will say (Private Browsing).When in Private Browsing mode, the Firefox button will be purple.When in Private Browsing mode, the Firefox window title will say (Private Browsing).When in Private Browsing mode, the Firefox window title will say (Private Browsing).

How do I turn on Private Browsing?

To start Private Browsing:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and select Start Private Browsing.On the menu bar, click the Tools menu and select Start Private Browsing.At the top of the Firefox window, click the Tools menu and select Start Private Browsing.
    Private Browsing Win1


    Private Browsing Mac1

    Private Browsing Lin1
  2. When you turn on Private Browsing, Firefox alerts you that it will save your current windows and tabs for after you finish using Private Browsing. Click Start Private Browsing to continue.

    Private Browsing Win2


    Private Browsing Mac2

    Private Browsing Lin2
    • Check the box next to "Do not show this message again" if you don't want to receive this alert when you turn on Private Browsing.
  3. The Private Browsing information screen appears to confirm that you're in Private Browsing mode. Private Browsing Win3 Private Browsing Mac3 Private Browsing Lin3

When browsing in Private Browsing mode, the Firefox window title will say (Private Browsing)the Firefox button will be purple (for Windows XP the window title will say (Private Browsing) instead) during your session.

How do I turn off Private Browsing?

To end a Private Browsing session:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and select Stop Private Browsing.On the menu bar, click the Tools menu and select Stop Private Browsing.At the top of the Firefox window, click the Tools menu and select Stop Private Browsing.
    Private Browsing Win4


    Private Browsing Mac4

    Private Browsing Lin4
  2. The windows and tabs you were using when you enabled Private Browsing will appear, and you can use Firefox normally. The Firefox window title will no longer say (Private Browsing)The Firefox button will turn orange again (for Windows XP the Firefox window title will no longer say (Private Browsing)) when Private Browsing is off.

How do I always start Firefox in Private Browsing?

There is a setting in the OptionsPreferences window that automatically enables Private Browsing whenever you start Firefox.

If you enter Private Browsing this way, the Firefox title bar won't say (Private Browsing)the Firefox button won't turn purple (Windows XP, the Firefox title bar won't say (Private Browsing)) but Firefox will still not retain history as described above.
  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button and then select Options.At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and then select Options.On the menu bar, click on the Firefox menu and select Preferences....At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Edit menu and select Preferences.

    Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options.Preferences.

  2. Select the Privacy panel.

  3. Set Firefox will: to Use custom settings for history. Custom History Fx 5 - Win Custom History - Mac Custom History - Linux Custom History Fx21 WinXP Custom History Fx21 Win7 Custom History Fx21 Mac Custom History Fx21 Linux
  4. Check the box next to Always use private browsing mode. Private Browsing Win5 Fx7 Private Browsing Mac5 Private Browsing Lin5
  5. Click OK to close the Options window.Click Close to close the Preferences window.Close the Preferences window.