Monday, October 20, 2014

Incognito - It's Not Just For Being Sneaky

When Google Chrome came out with incognito browsing, I thought to myself, "Why would they make it easier for people to look at things they shouldn't on the internet?!"  Even the little spy icon they use in the corner sometimes makes you feel like you are being mischievous.  Well...I'm here to tell you, Incognito is not just for being sneaky.  When you go incognito, pages you look at are not saved in your browser's history, cookies aren't saved, and search history doesn't stick around either.  Even still, Google is very clear that using incognito doesn't hide your browsing habits from your boss, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit.  Maybe it isn't so much about being sneaky after all.  So why go incognito?

Google Chrome does a great job of knowing who you are.  It saves your usernames and passwords, extensions, apps, shortcuts, etc.  It is truly a personalized browsing experience.  There are so many different websites that you can log in to using your Google account.  All of these websites will remember you.  You can of course adjust the settings and decide what gets remembered and what doesn't, but most people find it handy that Chrome knows them so well.  This is a great attribute of Google Chrome, but what if someone else wants to use your computer to log in to a Google account - check email, access drive, etc.?  It's a hassle to log yourself out of your account, sometimes once for each app someone else wants to use, and then log back in when the person is done.  Then it remembers that this person has logged in, and lists that account in your account list when you go to log back in.  This person may not want personal information saved in your browser.  You may not want that personal information saved in your browser.  Enter incognito browsing.

Opening an incognito window means that for browsing in that window, Chrome doesn't know who you are.  None of your automatic log in information is saved there.  Your homepages, extensions, usernames, and passwords are not gong to come up.  Someone else can easily log in to their Google products without the hassle of you logging out.  Then, once all the incognito windows are closed, all the personal information is gone.  Chrome isn't going to remember that someone else logged in on your computer.  This comes in handy for when you need to quickly access something on one of your other Google accounts (I have four different ones), when a colleague needs to access something while in your room, when a student needs to use your computer to log in and access a homework assignment, or when a student is logged in in the library and a buddy wants to log in really quick without the hassle of the first kid logging out of the computer to let the other student log in.  Now, students using incognito browsing could cause some other issues, so you might be cautious before encouraging them to use it.  More than likely they know about incognito already, but I'd use caution before using it with students anyway.  Better yet, check with your administrator first.

If you are using Chrome on a PC or Mac that you share with someone else regularly, Chrome allows for profiles.  My husband and I have about 8 accounts between the two of us and we can set it up so with just a click or two, we can change profiles.  (This does not work the same way for Chromebooks.)  I won't go into how to do this right now, as this is a post mainly about incognito browsing.  I'll cover how to create these profiles in a future post.

Another reason to use an incognito window is when you want to see what a site looks like when you aren't logged in as you.  Sometimes you want to see what someone else coming to a certain site or page will see if they don't have your login credentials or permissions.  Incognito is a quick way to do this without having to log yourself out.

So now that I've convinced you that going incognito can be quite handy, let's talk about how to do it.  If you look up in the top right hand corner of your Chrome window, you have that symbol with the three little parallel lines.  This is where you go to customize your Chrome settings.

When you click on that, one of the options you get is "New incognito window".  Click on that option and up will pop an incognito window.  You can also just press Control+Shift+N (Command+Shift+N for a Mac) and a new incognito window will pop right up.  Extra little tip - pressing Control+N (Command+N for a Mac) will bring up a new regular window.

You will always know that you've gone incognito because the top of the window is a darker color, either gray or blue, depending on what device you are using.  You will also see the little spy guy in the upper right or left corner of your browsing screen.

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  I hope this tip has been helpful for you.  I know it has come in quite handy for me time and time again.  Stop in again soon for more tips and tricks!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.