Private Browsing in Firefox – What is it, How to Enable it Permanently

There are loads of situations where you wanted to hide the information about the web pages you browse, the passwords or the form fields you entered, and admit it, you could be commonly wanting that when you are opening websites which your parents might not like you doing so. Browsing the web privately was something hard because the web browsers didn’t really have any good way to selectively flush the data and it kept saving all the data. The option then was to delete the entire history, which again could give signs that you browsed something which you weren’t supposed to. But now, most of the browsers have a direct option of browsing privately.

Such thing in Firefox browser is called Private Browsing, and there’s no special name (like Incognito mode in Chrome browser). According to Mozilla, here’s what private browsing on Firefox is:

In a Private Browsing window, Firefox won’t keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. However, files you download and bookmarks you make will be kept.

You got that already. What you still need to keep in mind is that the private browsing would be only for your computer and the tracking won’t be done in the browser, but that won’t prevent your ISP or your Employer from tracking the pages you browse.

Firefox Private Browsing

For most of us, private browsing would be mainly for the URLs that we enter in the Address bar, but the private browsing feature in Firefox does a lot more than that.

What is not saved during Private Browsing

There is a lot that the private browsing mode doesn’t save while you are freely browsing, logging into websites and downloading content from the web.

  • Web pages visited: No page that you visited would be kept in the history, and the address bar URL list would also be kept unsaved
  • Passwords: No passwords would be saved
  • Download list: Although you download anything from the web, nothing would show up in the downloads list
  • Forms and search bar entries: The forms that you fill, and the searches you make are not saved
  • Cookies: These are unique packets that store the information such as the site preferences, login data and other stuff you do on the websites. These are not saved in the private browsing
  • Cached web content: The web content that you browse becomes cached for you to browse it faster and easier later on. Apart form this, the user data too gets cached, but there’s nothing of this stored when you are browsing privately
  • If any file is opened in an external app, e.g. a document opened directly without saving, it would stay in the temp folder until the browser is open, but later would be removed from the temp folder too

What is saved during Private Browsing

  • If you are bookmarking any websites during Private browsing, all of those bookmarks would stay there and won’t be removed when you switch from private to normal browsing
  • Files that are saved or downloaded would be still there in the folder where you downloaded them, but only the name won’t be shown in the download manager of the browser

How to Open a Private Window in Firefox

To open a private window, you don’t need to close all your current windows and tabs, because the window would work separately and won’t disturb your current window. You just need to go to Firefox Menu and click on the second option “New Private Window” and that would open the private browsing window.

Firefox New Private Window

Doing it with the keyboard:

– Option 1: press Alt > Down arrow > and go down to “New Private Window”

– Option 2: press Ctrl + Shift + P together

How does Private Window look like?

We know, you too are confused just like many others who fail to differentiate between a normal and a private window. Thus, here’s how both of them look side by side, for you to easily understand.

* The browser button on the left top corner in the private mode would be purple in color, and the one in the normal mode would depend on the theme and color used by the user.

Firefox Private vs Normal Window

How to set Firefox for Private Browsing Permanently

Browsing the web privately is what many users would want to do sometimes, but there is a segment of users who would want to privately browse all the time. They need no exception, and they don’t worry about saving of web addresses, passwords etc. as they rely on the add-ons for that. Here is how you can set the Firefox browser to open always with Private browsing.

Go to Firefox options from the browser menu.

Firefox Options

In the options, go to Privacy tab and under “History”, select the dropdown beside “Firefox will” and select “Never remember history”.

Firefox Never remember history

The browser would prompt a message that Firefox has to restart to save this setting, and start as a private browser always. Select OK.

Firefox Restart for Private

Note: If you were looking for something similar for the Google Chrome browser, there is a mode called Incognito mode which does the same job in that browser, except that the name is different.

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