Safari 6 (OS X Mountain Lion): Browse privately

Browse privately with Safari

You can prevent others from gaining access to information about websites you visit by turning on Private Browsing. If you do this, Safari stops storing your browsing history, your website passwords, and cookies and other information for websites you visit.

What are cookies?

This stored information can make web browsing more convenient and useful. For example, a gaming website might store information that tells the website who you are, so when you revisit the website, it remembers your scores. However, some websites store tracking cookies and other data so advertisers can show you ads for products that match your interests.

Instead of using Private Browsing, which stops Safari from storing any information for websites, even if it might be useful, Safari can ask websites not to track your browsing.

Ask websites not to track you

When Private Browsing is on, webpages are not added to the history list, the names of downloads are removed from the Downloads window, AutoFill information isn’t saved, and searches are not added to the address and search field’s pop-up menu. Your bookmarks, Reading List, and windows and tabs aren’t stored in iCloud. They can’t be seen by others who share your Mac or iCloud-connected device.

Websites can’t modify information stored on your computer, so services normally available at such sites may work differently until you turn off Private Browsing. Any changes made to cookies are discarded when you turn off Private Browsing.

Plug-ins that support Private Browsing also stop storing cookies and other tracking information.

Turn on Private Browsing

  1. While browsing a webpage using Safari, choose Safari > Private Browsing.
  2. When you see a confirmation message, click OK.

    A Private button appears in the address and search field to indicate that private browsing is on.

    To skip the confirmation message, hold down the Option key while you choose Private Browsing.

Private Browsing is always turned off when you open Safari, even if it was on when you last quit Safari.

Turn off Private Browsing

  1. While browsing a webpage using Safari, choose Safari > Private Browsing (so the checkmark disappears), or click the Private button in the address and search field.
  2. Close any Safari windows you used to view private information.

    If you don’t close the windows, other users can view those pages using the Back and Forward buttons.

    If you downloaded any items from websites, Private Browsing removes only the names of the downloaded items from the Downloads window. To get rid of the items themselves, delete them from your computer.

  3. If you downloaded any items from websites, Private Browsing only removes the names of the items you downloaded from the Downloads window. To get rid of the items themselves, delete them from your computer.

If you forget to turn on Private Browsing

After you finish browsing, choose Safari > Reset Safari.

Last Modified: Aug 14, 2012
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