Nearly every browser has a version of Chrome’s Incognito mode, designed to keep your browsing history hidden from other users on the same computer. But will your favorite extensions work in Incognito mode?
It is important to note that browsing in Incognito mode will not keep your actions hidden from trackers and ads on the Internet; Incognito mode is no private browser. But if you are using Incognito mode and want to keep your extensions at the same time, we’ll show you how in this article.
For truly private browsing, ditch Incognito mode altogether; switch to Brave and the added security of Brave Shields to keep you safe from third-party trackers and unwanted ads.
Incognito and private browsing
Incognito on browsers like Chrome and Safari do little more than prevent the browser from storing your search history on that device. It does nothing about the websites you visit or any trackers on the Internet. As far as the websites you visit are concerned, Incognito mode is the same as normal browsing.
Truly private browsing is something different. A private browser keeps your habits hidden from third-party trackers and websites themselves, helping to keep you safely anonymous on the Internet.
When (and when not) to use Incognito mode
Incognito mode keeps things hidden on the user’s side, so browse with Incognito mode when you are trying to hide your history from other users on the same device. Buying a secret birthday gift or planning a surprise holiday? Incognito mode is the way to go. Your browsing history will be deleted when you end the session, and no other users on the same device can see what you did.
If you have genuine concerns about your Internet privacy, don’t rely solely on Incognito mode. Only a few browsers have a private browsing mode that actually keeps you hidden from third parties. Brave’s Private Window with Tor is one example since it uses the Tor network to relay your connection through three different devices and keep you anonymous from prying eyes. Incognito mode on Chrome does nothing of the sort, and the only way to make it more private is to use third-party extensions - the same as in normal browsing on Chrome.
Allowing extensions in Incognito mode
Brave automatically disables extensions in Private browsing mode.
To enable them, you’ll need to find Preferences under the Brave menu.
Then select Extensions > Manage Extensions, and find the extension you want to allow.
Click “More Details” under that extension, and you should see an option to “Allow in Private browsing.”
You will also see a warning, notifying you that any extension you allow will have the ability to see your activity.
In Chrome, your extensions as a general rule do not work in Incognito mode. Because extensions are a third-party addition to your browser, and most are tracking your browsing history for better performance, Incognito mode automatically disables them.
Both Brave and Chrome require users to explicitly enable extensions for private windows.
You will need to adjust the settings in your browser.
Open Chrome > Menu > More Tools > Extensions.
From the Extensions page, you can select the extension you wish to use in Incognito mode and enable it.
Note that not every extension will have that option. If there is not an option to enable the extension in Incognito mode, then the extension may not work.
Firefox, just like Chrome and Brave, does not automatically allow your extensions to work in Private Browsing mode (Firefox’s version of Incognito).
To give permission for your extensions to work, you’ll need to open Firefox.
Select Menu > Add-ons > Extensions > Run in Private Windows > Allow
Microsoft Edge calls Incognito “Private browsing” and requires that you enable extensions to work in private browsing.
To change this feature, you’ll need to open Edge, select Menu > Extensions > Installed Extensions.
To turn on Private Browsing for each extension, you’ll need to select Details under each extension and choose “Allow in Private”.
Turning on an extension to work in private mode does not change the extension itself. If it is insecure, your browsing will be compromised whether you are in Private Browsing mode or not. It is important you know exactly what extensions you have downloaded and given permissions to.
Brave’s Tor private browsing and extensions
The Tor browser is one of the most secure browsers out there, but it comes with a learning curve and some drawbacks, such as diminished browsing speed. Brave actually has two private browsing modes - a normal one, and one that adds the protection of the Tor network to your private browsing window.
Brave’s Private Window with Tor routes your connection through three relays in the Tor network. Each step knows only the next step in the chain - the point of origin is kept anonymous, meaning that it is extremely difficult for websites to identify you and track your habits.
With Brave, you get the benefits of Tor plus all the benefits of Brave, along with an extra layer of protection for you in private mode.