Private Browsing in iOS

We all have our little secrets, and not all of them are connected to our tax affairs, or indeed connected to anything underhand. I do lots of shopping online, and I share an iPad with someone in the same house. There are times when I don’t want to let anyone else see what I’ve bought, or even where I have been browsing, and I’m sure many people are in the same situation. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas presents, engagement gifts, wedding presents, the list of innocent (and maybe in some cases not so innocent) site visits that you want to keep private goes on and on. If you have secrets that you’d rather keep that way, you need to take action and adjust your Safari settings before you start.

Private browsing

Safari can be too helpful

There are many great features about browsing using Safari, but sometimes it can just be too helpful, and it remembers all kinds of information about sites you have visited. Features such as Top Sites, and Safari’s Smart Search retain the history of sites you have browsed, and because iCloud helpfully keeps all local Apple devices in sync, it could mean that your browsing activity is not just retained on one device, but can be shared across devices. Someone can also innocently pick up your device, and see everything that you have been doing recently, whether you (or they) wanted to or not.

Private browsing

Ever since the introduction of iOS 5, and in all later versions, there has been a private browsing capability, so you’re not just limited to the very latest Apple devices to help keep your secrets. Whether you intend to search for the ideal gift for the love of your life, or you need some medical advice from the NHS website, turn on private browsing before you start and your secrets will be safe.

First of all, open Safari, and then tap on the icon shaped like two small empty squares, which is the Pages icon. You will see the word ‘Private’, so tap on that and you will see a message on the display that tells you that you are in private browsing mode, and that Safari won’t remember the pages you visit etc. Tap on ‘Done’ to get back to the search bar, and you can search to your heart’s content without fear of being found out.

To come out of private browsing mode again, simply tap on Pages, and ‘Private’ again, and tell it you’re Done and you’re back to normal browsing mode.

Private browsing mode has disadvantages too

You can stay in private browsing mode all the time if you wish, but it means you don’t get the benefit of some Safari’s more useful features such as Autofill, and also it’s generally useful to be able to go back and re-visit favourite pages. For this reason, I only use private browsing mode for certain confidential purposes, and the rest of the time I don’t mind who knows which websites I have visited.

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