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Safari 5.1 (OS X Lion): Browse privately

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Browse privately with Safari

When you browse the web, Safari stores information about the websites you visit. If you’ve turned on password saving in AutoFill preferences, Safari also stores any user names and passwords you enter. If you browse the web on a Mac that’s also used by other people, they can view your browsing behavior by reading the history list or the list of stored passwords. To prevent others from gaining access to this information, use Private Browsing.

Many websites also store information on your computer, in cookies and other places. Cookies can be helpful: 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. To inhibit third parties from viewing this kind of information, use Private Browsing.

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 search field’s pop-up menu. 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 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 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.
  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.

Keep your software up-to-date

Safari works with Mac OS X to protect your privacy. The best way to keep your information secure is to promptly install software updates, including updates to Mac OS X.

Last Modified: May 29, 2014
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  • Last Modified: May 29, 2014
  • Article: PH5000
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