How to Browse Anonymously

Although many users believe that their Web surfing activities are anonymous, a great deal of identifying information is transmitted to and from websites that you browse. A history of the sites you've visited is stored on your computer even after you close your browser, and most websites keep logs of visitors' IP addresses and other statistical data. For those who wish to surf the Web anonymously, most of the major browsers offer secure browsing modes to give users more anonymity as they travel the Web.

Male working on computer
Browsing anonymously prevents credit card data from being cached on your computer.
credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Internet Explorer

Step

Run Internet Explorer and open the "Tools" menu. Click the "InPrivate Browsing" option to open a new window that invokes this secure browsing mode. Alternately, press "Ctrl-Shift-P" on your keyboard to launch an InPrivate browsing window, or right-click a pinned Internet Explorer icon on the taskbar and select the "InPrivate Browsing" option from the context menu.

Step

Browse as you normally would. If you visit websites where you have accounts, you will need to log in manually because InPrivate browsing mode does not load any cached information or cookies from previous browsing sessions. If you return to one of these websites later in a regular browsing session, your login information will be stored in the usual manner.

Step

Close the InPrivate browsing window when you are finished. Make sure that you don't have any content you want to save in other tabs, as all information will be lost when your close the window.

Mozilla Firefox

Step

Launch Firefox. Click the "Firefox" button in the upper left corner of the window and select the "Private Browsing" option. Alternately, press "Ctrl-Shift-P" to start a private browsing session.

Step

Click the "Start Private Browsing" button to begin your private browsing session when prompted. Any tabs that you currently have open will be saved and then closed, allowing you to recover your current browsing session once you have finished browsing privately. The "Firefox" button will turn purple to indicate that you are browsing privately.

Step

Browse as you normally would, keeping in mind that no user data or preferences will be loaded from previous browsing sessions. Click the "Firefox" button and select the "Stop Private Browsing" option to return to standard browsing mode and reload your previously saved session. Alternately, press "Ctrl-Shift-P" again to terminate private browsing.

Google Chrome

Step

Launch Chrome and click the "Wrench" icon to access the options menu. Click the "New Incognito Window" option to start browsing in Chrome's Incognito Mode. A new window will open with an Incognito Mode icon that looks like a man in a trench coat and fedora. Alternately, you can launch an Incognito Mode window by pressing "Ctrl-Shift-N" on your keyboard while in Chrome.

Step

Browse as you normally would. Note that user data and preferences from previous browsing sessions won't be loaded while you are browsing in Incognito Mode.

Step

Close the Incognito Mode window to end your private browsing session. Any cookies or other data produced by the browsing session will be deleted when the window is closed.