How to Make Safari’s Private Browsing Feature Actually Private

By 3 weeks ago

All of your internet activity can (and is) traced as soon as you open your web browser. The websites you browse, the items you purchase online, and the services you use. You can use private browsing to keep such information private.

Even if you don’t believe you care, there are a variety of reasons why you might prefer to remain anonymous. They aren’t always evident, like as stopping others from viewing your browser history or knowing what you do online. Maybe you don’t want sites like Facebook to use that information to target adverts to you. If you’re using a public computer, you don’t want to worry about signing out.

However, don’t assume that just because you use private browsing mode means you won’t be tracked. You may use Terminal to easily bring up all the sites you’ve visited thanks to Safari’s private browsing feature.

Let’s take a look at how to do that, as well as how to permanently delete that information.

How To Activate Private Browsing In Safari

If you’ve never used Safari private browsing feature before, here’s how to enable it. 

  1. Open the Safari browser.
  2. Choose File > New Private Window. You’ll notice that in private window the address bar is darker.
  3. To open a new private tab, press Command + T. Any new tab that you open in this same window will also use private browsing.

If you’d like to set Safari private browsing as a default option, you can do it in settings. 

Go to Preferences and choose General. In the tab, find Safari opens with menu and click on A new private window.

What Safari Private Browsing Does & Doesn’t Do

It’s crucial to understand what private browsing entails before moving on to the practical side of things. As well as how it safeguards your privacy when using the Safari browser.

What Safari Private Browsing Feature Does

While this feature doesn’t offer complete privacy, private browsing does minimize the digital footprint you leave online. 

Among the positive impacts of Safari private browsing are the following:

  • Your browsing history can’t be found in the Safari’s history tab.
  • It doesn’t autofill usernames or passwords you’ve previously saved in the browser.
  • It doesn’t save new passwords you enter into websites while browsing.
  • Limits the annoying tracking cookies that some websites try and attach to you.

Things Private Browsing Doesn’t Hide

Of course, you shouldn’t trust Safari completely with your privacy. Simply because it has certain limitations. Some things that Safari’s private browsing feature doesn’t hide include:

  • Bookmarks that you save in private session are still visible when you browse the web with private browsing disabled.
  • Your device’s IP address.
  • If you’re using your work computer and it has monitoring software installed, then it will still see and record your online activity.
  • Yout Internet Service Provider can still see what you do online (and possibly sell that information).

Improve Your Privacy Using Terminal Commands

As we mentioned before, when you use Safari private browsing, the feature doesn’t store your search history in the history tab. 

However, there’s a place on your computer where you can find it. It’s the Terminal.

  • To find Terminal, go to Applications and then to the Utilities folder on your computer.
  • Once you open Terminal, run this command to see the list of sites visited:
dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

If you get an error message like “Unable to get details from the cache node”, don’t worry about it and just skip down to the section below for clearing the cache. Otherwise, you’ll get a list of the domains of the websites you went to, looking like this:

Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

However, there’s a way to delete that information.

Wipe Your Tracks Clean

Terminal has a command that lets you wipe those stored sites from your computer for good. 

Open Terminal and enter the command:

dscacheutil -flushcache 

This effectively “flushes” all of Terminal’s previously saved data. Run the dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host command again if you want to be sure those domains are gone. This time, the directory service cache will be blank.

There isn’t a way to automate this, unfortunately. That is, it will not prevent Terminal from preserving the domains of future websites that you visit. To keep your records clean, you’ll need to repeat this procedure on a regular basis.

Private Browsing In Other Browsers

Because it comes pre-installed on your Mac, Safari is considered a go-to browser for Mac users. However, you may be using other browsers in addition to, or instead of, Safari.

Fortunately, every browser has its own private browsing feature, regardless of which one you use. So you may learn how to utilise Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or any other browser to remain anonymous.

It’s also a good idea to employ extra tools and addons for improved online privacy if you want to take things to the next level.


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