Incognito mode, also known as private browsing, is a feature that most web browsers offer to help users browse the web without leaving any trace of their online activity. However, just because you’re using incognito mode doesn’t mean your online activity is entirely private.
In this article, we’ll explore how to check incognito history and discuss the limitations of this feature.
- What is Incognito Mode
- How to Use Incognito Mode
- Three Ways to Your Check Incognito History
- Who Else Can See Your Incognito Mode History
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Explore Relevant Articles
What is Incognito Mode
Incognito mode is a feature that is available in most web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. It allows you to browse the web without leaving any trace of your online activity on your device. When you use incognito mode, your browsing history, cookies, and temporary files are not saved on your device.
How to Use Incognito Mode
To use incognito mode, you need to open a new incognito window in your web browser. Here are the steps to open an incognito window in some of the popular web browsers:
- Open Google Chrome.
- Click on the three dots icon in the top-right corner of the window.
- Click on “New incognito window” from the dropdown menu.
- Open Mozilla Firefox.
- Click on the three lines icon in the top-right corner of the window.
- Click on “New Private Window” from the dropdown menu.
- Open Microsoft Edge.
- Click on the three dots icon in the top-right corner of the window.
- Click on “New InPrivate window” from the dropdown menu.
- Open Safari on your Mac.
- Click on the “File” menu at the top of the screen.
- Select “New Private Window” from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + N.
Three Ways to Your Check Incognito History
As mentioned earlier, incognito mode doesn’t save your browsing history on your device. So, if you want to check your incognito history, you need to look at other sources, such as your DNS cache, router logs, or the history of the websites you visited.
1. DNS Cache on Windows
When you visit a website, your device needs to resolve the domain name of the website to its IP address. This process is called DNS resolution, and your device saves the result of this process in its DNS cache. If you visit a website in incognito mode, the domain name of the website will be saved in your DNS cache, even though your browsing history is not saved.
To check your DNS cache in Windows, follow these steps:
- Open Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key + R, typing “cmd” in the Run dialog box, and pressing Enter.
- Type “ipconfig /displaydns” in the Command Prompt window and press Enter.
- You will see a list of domain names that your device has resolved recently. Look for the domain name of the website you visited in incognito mode.
How to Delete Incognito History From DNS:
- Type in “command prompt” in the search bar
- Type in “ipconfig/flashdns” in the next window
- This will immediately delete the DNS cache and no one will ever know you ever visited those sites
2. Check Incognito History on Mac
If you’re using incognito mode on your Mac and you want to check your browsing history, you might think that it’s impossible. However, it is possible to retrieve your incognito history on a Mac by following these steps:
- Launch the Terminal app on your Mac. You can find it by searching for “Terminal” in Spotlight or by navigating to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
- In the Terminal window, type “sudo lsof | grep -i Safari” (without the quotes) Enter your Mac passcode and press Enter. This will show you a list of all open Safari tabs, including any tabs that were opened in incognito mode.
- Look for the tab(s) that you want to view the history for and take note of the number in the second column of the output. This number is the process ID (PID) of the tab.
- Next, type “sudo sqlite3 ~/Library/Safari/History.db” (without the quotes) and press Enter. This will open the Safari history database in the Terminal window.
- Type “.tables” (without the quotes) and press Enter. This will show you a list of tables in the database.
- Type “select * from history_items where title!=”;” (without the quotes) and press Enter. This will display a list of all the URLs that you have visited in Safari, including those opened in incognito mode.
- Look for the URLs that correspond to the tabs you identified in step 3. The URLs are listed in the “URL” column of the output.
- Once you’ve found the URLs you’re interested in, you can close the Terminal window.
If the Terminal is unable to open the Safari history database with the code “sudo sqlite3 ~/Library/Safari/History.db”, it may be because the database file has been moved or deleted.
In this case, you can try the following steps:
- Open the Finder on your Mac.
- Click on the “Go” menu at the top of the screen.
- Select “Go to Folder” from the drop-down menu.
- Type “~/Library/Safari/” (without the quotes) in the text field and click “Go“. This will open the Safari folder in the Finder.
- Look for a file named “History.db” in the folder. If the file is not there, it means that your history has been deleted and cannot be recovered.
- If the file is there, try opening it with the Terminal again using the code “sudo sqlite3 ~/Library/Safari/History.db“.
If the Terminal still cannot open the database, it’s possible that the file is corrupted or has been modified in some way. In this case, it may not be possible to retrieve your incognito history using this method. Remember that retrieving incognito history can be a complex process that requires advanced technical skills, and it’s important to respect other people’s privacy and not use this technique to spy on others.
3. Router Logs
If you’re using a router to connect to the internet, your router may keep logs of the websites you visited. To check your router logs, you need to log in to your router’s admin panel and look for the logs section. The location of the logs section may vary depending on the router model, but it’s usually under the advanced settings.
Who Else Can See Your Incognito Mode History
While incognito mode can help you browse the web without leaving a trace of your online activity on your device, it has some limitations.
Here are some of the leaks of incognito mode:
Your ISP Can Still See Your Online Activity
While incognito mode can hide your online activity from other users of your device, it doesn’t hide your online activity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your ISP can still see the websites you visit, even if you’re using incognito mode. So, if you want to keep your online activity truly private, you need to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Websites Can Still Track You
Incognito mode doesn’t prevent websites from tracking you using cookies or other tracking technologies. So, if you want to prevent websites from tracking you, you need to use a privacy-focused browser extension or a VPN.
Incognito Mode Can’t Protect You from Malware or Phishing
Incognito mode doesn’t protect you from malware or phishing attacks. So, if you’re browsing the web in incognito mode, you still need to be cautious about the websites you visit and the files you download. And make sure your device has an antivirus.
In conclusion, incognito mode is a useful feature that can help you browse the web without leaving a trace of your online activity on your device. However, it’s not a foolproof way to keep your online activity private. If you want to keep your online activity truly private, you need to use a combination of incognito mode, VPN, privacy-focused browser extensions, and common sense.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you can’t check your incognito history on your phone. Incognito mode works the same way on mobile devices as it does on desktop devices.
If you’re using a work device or a work network, your employer may be able to see your online activity, even if you’re using incognito mode. So, if you want to keep your online activity private from your employer, you should use a personal device and a personal network.
No, you can’t use incognito mode to bypass paywalls. Paywalls are implemented by the websites themselves, and incognito mode doesn’t change how the websites work. Here is what’s hide your IP address.
No, incognito mode can’t protect you from online surveillance. If you want to protect yourself from online surveillance, you need to use a VPN or other privacy tools.