Top 6 Uses for Google Incognito Windows and Internet Explorer Privacy Mode

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privacy-computer-internet When Google released its Chrome browser, there was a lot of focus on two features, the faster JavaScript engine, named V8, and the privacy mode, named Incognito.  The latter was the subject of much snickering and finger pointing as the blog-heads promptly nicknamed the feature “porno mode,” suggesting that the only reason for having a privacy feature like Incognito was to use your computer to surf the Internet for pornography.

The reaction to Google’s inclusion of a browsing privacy mode was ironic, considering the considerable heat the company takes from the same group of users for its own privacy policy and data collection techniques.  The same users who wail about how much Google might know about its users and what it does with that data was the same group to suggest that the only people who need privacy from their browser are perverts who look at pornography all day long.  This begs the question why these writers are so concerned then with their privacy for searches; presumably because they are searching for porn all day long. That being said, there have emerged several very useful needs for the privacy mode included in browsers like Google Chrome, and now Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Top 5 Uses For Internet Browser Privacy Mode

  1. Pure Search Results – When you search via Google and other search engines, the search results you get are often colored by your past searching and other online behavior.  Thus, if Google’s systems detect that in the past you have searched regularly for tree root watering kits, then your searches for “root kits” are likely to have results returned that have something to do with watering plants, while a heavy searcher of Unix utilities would find the same search slanted toward computer based root kits.  This makes it difficult to get an idea of what a “pure” search ranking looks like. The standard techniques to avoid this require things like creating a separate Firefox profile, or using a different browser, and so on.  A quick click over to Privacy Mode, though ensures search results that are not colored by previous searches.
  2. Testing New User Experience – Likewise, many websites offer a different experience to users who are returning users versus the one they offer to new users.  Also, many sites behave differently depending upon whether or not the user has logged in before from a specific computer.  By entering into Privacy Mode, or an Incognito Window, users can see what it is like to approach a site as a new user.  Using the privacy mode to see such things is much easier for someone like the Director of Marketing than maintaining and switching to a different profile or program to see the same.
  3. Shopping Without Suggestions – Several websites seek to make a user’s experience more valuable by providing suggestions based upon your past behavior and purchases.  While this is a noble goal, there are times when you would prefer to not have your suggestions influenced by your past.  For example, if you are looking for something different or completely new to you, those helpful suggestions aren’t so helpful.  Getting movie or music download recommendations based on the universe versus based on Bob Smith can provide for a perspective broadening experience.
  4. Providing Honest Input – Ever been to a website that you have an affiliation with?  Maybe one that you work for, or one that advertises on your website, and then wanted to comment on something, but were afraid of possible retaliation or a misunderstanding?  While privacy mode is no excuse to become a jerk, constructive criticism can be important for both the user and the provider.  A quick jump into Incognito mode helps ensure that your comments aren’t linked to your seller ID.
  5. Actual Privacy – Whatever the teenage boys trapped inside grown-up bodies might say to the contrary, there are plenty of reasons to just want a little extra bit of privacy as provided by IE Privacy Mode or Google Incognito.  Between auto-complete web addresses, the Speed Dial like functionality of Google’s default page, and web form auto-fill, there are a thousand ways that someone jumping on your computer browser to handle a quick task could ruin your privacy.  Most mainstream companies point toward online shopping as the reason you might want some privacy, which only fans the red-faced finger pointing.  Imagine instead, the co-worker (you know, the gossipy one) who wants to check the company Intranet at baubles.net and upon typing “b-a” gets an auto-complete suggestion of “baby-advice.com” and suddenly turns around and asks if your wife is pregnant in a loud voice.  Frankly, you would probably prefer they thought you were looking at porn.  It doesn’t take long to think of 50 other instances that might arise, all of which can now be quickly and easily handled without having to turn off useful features like auto-complete, or managing different profiles.
  6. Using Multiple Accounts Without Logging Out – Whether you need two Gmail accounts — one for personal use and one for business use — of if you want to run 18 different Twitter accounts, privacy mode gives you the ability to login in as one of the other accounts without having to log off of your other account. Just open up an Incognito Chrome window or fire off a Private Browsing session. When you get to the login page, you won’t get any hassle about already being logged in.

Don’t let the giggling, eye-rolling, finger pointing stop you from dropping into privacy mode whenever you feel like what you are doing is nobody’s business, or if you just need a little peak at what something looks like “from the outside.”  You’ll be surprised at how often you end up using it.

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  1. Pingback: Private Browsing, Incognito Mode, and Privacy Mode Usage Respect | ArcticLlama Freelancing Blog
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