Private Browsing - Use Firefox without saving history

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  • Revision id: 17120
  • Created:
  • Creator: dlfrisch
  • Comment:
  • Reviewed: Yes
  • Reviewed:
  • Reviewed by: scoobidiver
  • Is approved? No
  • Is current revision? No
  • Ready for localization: No
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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?

Note:
  • If you create new Bookmarks in Firefox 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 Where to find and manage downloaded files in Firefox list.


How do I turn on Private Browsing?

To start a Private Browsing session:

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

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    Private Browsing Win1


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  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.

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    • 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.

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    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 menu will be purple (for Windows XP the window title will say (Private Browsing) instead) during your session.

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How do I turn off Private Browsing?

To end a Private Browsing session:

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

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  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 menu 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 Firefoxmenu 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. Click the menu button New Fx Menu Fx57Menu and choose Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the PrivacyPrivacy & Security panel and go to the History section.

  3. In the drop-down menu next to Firefox will:Firefox will, choose Use custom settings for history.
    customhistory38 Fx56Privacy&Security-CustomHistory-new CustomHistory fx57 Fx60HistorySettings-UseCustom
  4. Check the box next to Automatically start Firefox in a private browsing sessionPermanent Private Browsing mode.

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  5. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.