How to Always Start Your Favorite Web Browser in Private Browsing Mode By Default?

"Private Browsing" is a very useful feature which is present in all modern web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera.

Private browsing allows you to browse on Internet without leaving any traces in the computer you are using. When you use private browsing in a browser, it doesn't store the websites you visit, files you download, forms you fill, your searches, etc. Its very useful when you are using a public computer.

Private browsing feature is also known with a few other names such as "Incognito mode" in Google Chrome, "InPrivate" in Internet Explorer, etc.

Following are the official definitions of Private Browsing according to popular web browsers:

Mozilla Firefox:

In Private Browsing session, Firefox won't keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. However, files you download and bookmarks you make will be kept.

Internet Explorer:

Private Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.

Google Chrome:

Pages you view in private browsing window won't appear in your browser history or search history, and they won't leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close all open windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.


If you wish to browse without leaving a trace, for example, if you're using someone else's computer or a public one, you can use private browsing.

To start a web browser in private browsing mode, you can use keyboard shortcuts or menu commands as following:

  • Internet Explorer: Press Ctrl+Shift+P keys together or select "InPrivate Browsing" from Tools menu
  • Mozilla Firefox: Press Ctrl+Shift+P keys together or select "Start Private Browsing" from Tools menu or Firefox Menu button
  • Google Chrome: Press Ctrl+Shift+N keys together or select "New incognito window" using Wrench icon
  • Opera: Press Ctrl+Shift+N keys together or select "New Private Tab" from Tabs and Windows menu

Many times you may want to always start your browser in private browsing mode and don't want to waste your time in selecting the private browsing option from menu bar or pressing the hotkeys each time you start the browser.

So today in this tutorial, we are going to tell you how to start your favorite web browser always in private browsing mode. If you also want to do this, check out following simple steps:

1. Always Start Mozilla Firefox in Private Browsing Mode

1. Click on Firefox Menu button and select Options.

2. Go to "Privacy" tab and select "Use custom settings for history" option present in History section.

3. Now enable "Always use private browsing mode" option and apply the changes.


Alternatively you can set browser.privatebrowsing.autostart preference to true in about:config window. Both are same.

NOTE: Using this method Firefox will always start in private browsing mode but its orange Menu button will not convert into blue which usually happens when you start Firefox in private browsing mode using the hotkey or menubar. Don't worry, its by design. Firefox is properly running in private browsing mode which can be confirmed by clicking on orange Menu button. It'll show you "Stop Private Browsing" option instead of "Start Private Browsing" which means its running in private browsing mode.

PS: The method given below for Internet Explorer also works for Mozilla Firefox i.e. add -private at the end of Target string in Firefox's shortcut Properties.

2. Always Start Internet Explorer in Private Browsing Mode

1. Right-click on Internet Explorer's shortcut and select Properties.

2. Now add -private at the end of the string present in Target text box as shown in following screenshot:


There must be a blank space between existing string and -private.

3. Click on Apply button and now whenever you'll launch Internet Explorer using this shortcut, it'll always start in InPrivate browsing mode.

3. Always Start Google Chrome in Private Browsing Mode

1. Right-click on Google Chrome's shortcut and select Properties.

2. Now add --incognito at the end of the string present in Target text box as shown in following screenshot:


There must be a blank space between existing string and --incognito.

3. Click on Apply button and now whenever you'll launch Google Chrome using this shortcut, it'll always start in incognito mode.

This method will also work in all other Chromium based browsers such as Comodo Dragon, etc.

4. Always Start Opera in Private Browsing Mode

1. Right-click on Opera's shortcut and select Properties.

2. Now add -newprivatetab at the end of the string present in Target text box as shown in following screenshot:


There must be a blank space between existing string and -newprivatetab.

3. Click on Apply button and now whenever you'll launch Opera using this shortcut, it'll always start with 2 tabs: one your default startup page and the other will be a new tab in private browsing mode. It happens because Opera comes with per-tab private browsing mode.

That's it. Feel free to share your feedback or questions in your comment...


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Posted in: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera

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  • I've already known this tip for a long time... ever since like FF4.0 came out

  • VG

    ^^ Yep. Firefox method is common and easy one as its direct accessible from its Options window but other browsers methods are a little bit tricky. ;)

  • i did opera private tab shortcut opera makes only one private tab if i add one more tab it opens as normal speed dial dial how to make always opera as private window.

  • No mention of Safari, the browser that introduced the feature. :/

  • these tips are less useful for android tablet or phone. I can't find tabs at all in opera on android jellybean smartphone. so i can't execute the tips. no way to select private just once, much less permanent.

    there are a number of private-only browsers for android but they are all in beta basically with lots of bugs or missing features.

    the main ones usually have one-time private but no permanent. those with both are also slowwwwww. dolphin has it all and is reliable just slow.

    opera android is devoid. too bad cuz it's fast.
    but off my list.

  • HI,
    ITS not working, but can open by RUN Command chrome -incognito

  • Thanks Vishal,
    Thanks to you, I managed to always open opera in private mode. allthough in stead of -newprivatetab I had to add -private.
    Thanks. again

  • WTF? as usual with these non-help instructions - they seem to always involve some type of command that is only visible to the person writing this pointless prose. i have no internet short cut. i have clicked on anything and everything related to 'internet' or an internet icon and NONE produce the screen shot you show - thanks for proving me right again. you might want to start with a screen shot that actually appears on the desktop.

  • VG

    ^^ You can find the shortcut icon on Desktop or in Start Menu/Start Screen or in Quick Launch Bar. How do you launch Internet Explorer?

  • Thanks so much VG. You always teach us good lessons... Thank you!

  • I use this for a while and it works fine. However only if you start IE11 form a shortcut. If your IE11 is set as default browser and you click on a web link IE11 starts in normal mode. Anyway to make sure IE11 starts always in private mode?

  • internet explorer

    1. Right-click on Internet Explorer's shortcut and select Properties...

    what shortcut do you refer to? i have at least several shortcuts to the internet explorer on my computer and none of them prompt the menu shown here.

  • Modify each shortcut with the -private suffix.

  • This doesn't work on windows 8.1 ie11.

    There is no access to the "Target" line in the Properties.

  • When in privacy mode, can an administrator "monitor" my network PC in real time ?
    If not, is there a way I can access my personal browsing (email, bank account) in complete privacy ?
    Yes, I understand about clearing "history" prior to leaving at the end of the business day

  • It's good to use the private window. However, it is not enough. Even if your browsing history is not available you are still giving much data to advertisers. It's better to make a combo with tools like Ivacy VPN to be completely anonymous on the internet while browsing.

  • Installed correctly on Explorer, but how can I tell that "In Private" is really working? Stupid question?

  • The private browsing mode is not private at all. Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer all have private browsing modes you can use to make sure the websites you visit don’t appear in your browsing history, but a list of the URLs you have visited during private browsing sessions are still stored in a database file, viewable by anyone using your computer who wants to take the time to access it.

    One can just use parental control features to view the sites that may be hidden. For example, Microsoft Family Safety will report web site history regardless of the browser settings. For more tech-savvy people, checking the DNS cache does the trick.
    The private browsing mode is not private at all. If you completely want to remove all the traces then you can use AntiTrail software and that's it.

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