How to create shortcuts to start your web browser InPrivate or Incognito

If you don’t want your web browser to keep your browser history, your cookies and site data, temporary files, searches and the information you entered in forms, then you have to use a form of private browsing. Google Chrome calls this mode Incognito, Firefox and Opera call it Private Browsing, while Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge call it InPrivate. Read this guide and learn how to create a shortcut that automatically starts your web browser using its private browsing mode:

First, create a shortcut on the Desktop for your favorite browser and access its properties

This guide covers the following browsers for Windows: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Opera and the Internet Explorer touch app from Windows 8.1.

If you are using Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera, the first step is to create a standard shortcut to your browser, on the Windows desktop. If you need help in creating such shortcuts, read this guide: How to create shortcuts for apps, files, folders and web pages in Windows.

The second step is to edit the properties of the shortcut that you have created on the desktop. To do that, right click or press and hold the shortcut for your web browser. In the right-click menu, choose Properties.

Another way to achieve the same result is to select the shortcut and then press ALT+Enter on your keyboard.

For the remaining steps, scroll down to the section that is appropriate for the web browser that you are using.

How to create a shortcut that starts Google Chrome Incognito

After you open the properties of the Google Chrome shortcut that you created, go to the Shortcut tab. Then, in the Target field, type “ -incognito” (space, hyphen, incognito) after the closing quotation mark with the path towards the Google Chrome executable file. After you have added this text, click or tap OK to apply your changes.

Your Google Chrome shortcut is now modified to start the browser using the Incognito mode. Double click or double tap on it to verify that it works.

If you want to, you can also change the name of the shortcut by selecting it, pressing F2 on the keyboard and then typing a new name, like Google Chrome Incognito.

How to create a private browsing shortcut for Firefox

Open the properties of the Mozilla Firefox shortcut that you created, and go to the Shortcut tab. Then, in the Target field, type “ -private” (space, hyphen, private) after the closing quotation mark with the path towards the Firefox executable file. After you have added this text, click or tap OK to apply your changes.

The shortcut is not modified. Verify that it works and that, when you use it, Mozilla Firefox starts in a Private Browsing window similar to the one below.

If you want to, you can also change the name of the shortcut by selecting it, pressing F2 on the keyboard and then typing a new name, like Firefox Private Browsing.

How to create a shortcut that starts Microsoft Edge in InPrivate mode

Microsoft Edge is very different from other web browsers, because it is a Universal Windows Platform app (UWP). Because of that, you cannot create desktop shortcuts to this browser, like you can for others. Therefore, having a shortcut that starts this browser using InPrivate mode, requires a different procedure:

First, start Microsoft Edge using its shortcut from the Start Menu or the taskbar. Click or tap the “Settings and more” button on the top-right corner (the one that looks like three dots). In the menu that opens, choose “New InPrivate window.”

An InPrivate Microsoft Edge window is opened. The issue is that you must go to a website and then save this site as a shortcut for starting Microsoft Edge InPrivate with a single click, anytime you want to. You may want to choose a privacy oriented search engine, like DuckDuckGo. After you load the web page that you want to use, click “Settings and more” button on the top-right corner and choose “Pin this page to Start.”

Windows 10 asks you to confirm that you want to pin this tile to Start. Press Yes.

Open the Start Menu in Windows 10, and now you can see the newly added shortcut that opens Microsoft Edge InPrivate and takes you to the website that you have visited when creating the shortcut.

We don’t like that you can’t rename this shortcut and that you can store it only on the Start Menu. However, it is the only way to create an InPrivate shortcut for Microsoft Edge.

How to create a shortcut that starts Internet Explorer in InPrivate mode

Open the properties of the Internet Explorer shortcut that you created, and go to the Shortcut tab. Look for the Target field, and type “ -private” (space, hyphen, private) after the closing quotation mark with the path towards the Internet Explorer executable file. Click or tap OK to apply your changes.

When you use this shortcut, Internet Explorer starts using InPrivate mode.

You can change the name of the shortcut by selecting it, pressing F2 on the keyboard and then typing a new name, like Internet Explorer InPrivate.

How to create a shortcut that starts Opera in Private browsing

After you open the properties of the Opera shortcut that you created, go to the Shortcut tab. In the Target field, type “ -private” (space, hyphen, private) after the closing quotation mark with the path towards the opera.exe file. Next, press OK to apply your changes.

The Opera shortcut is modified and, when you use it, it opens this browser’s Private browsing window.

You can change the name of the Opera shortcut by selecting it, pressing F2 on the keyboard and then typing a new name, like Opera Private Browsing.

How to create a shortcut that starts the Internet Explorer app using InPrivate Mode (Windows 8.1 only)

The Internet Explorer app from Windows 8.1, doesn't allow you to create shortcuts for it on the desktop. However, there's a tweak you can perform to open an InPrivate tab directly from the Start screen. First, open the Internet Explorer 11 app using its tile on the Start screen in Windows 8.1. Then, click or tap the Tab tools button above the address bar.

Choose “New InPrivate tab” in the menu that is shown.

A new InPrivate tab is opened, and you can pin it to the Start screen. To do this, click or tap the Favorites button.

Then, click or tap the “Pin site button.

Lastly, click or tap the “Pin to Start” button.

The InPrivate tab is now pinned to the Start screen, and you can use it to start the Internet Explorer app directly in InPrivate browsing.

Please keep in mind that the Internet Explorer app has only an InPrivate tab option rather than an InPrivate window like the desktop version does. This means that the next tab you open is a normal one unless you follow the instructions shared in this article, which details how to open a new InPrivate tab.

Conclusion

If you need to use private browsing relatively frequently, it is a good idea to have two shortcuts for your browser: one that starts it normally and one that starts it using its private browsing mode. The shortcuts created using this guide will surely come it handy when you need this second shortcut for private browsing. If you have issues, or questions, don’t hesitate to ask using the comments form accessible below.