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How to use Private Browsing with Safari on iPhone and iPad

Private Browsing is a useful feature built-in to Safari in iOS that limits what information is saved and shared as you browse the web. Let’s look at how to use Private Browsing on iPhone and iPad.

Here’s how Apple describes the feature for iPhone and iPad:

Private Browsing protects your private information and blocks some websites from tracking your search behavior. Safari won’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your AutoFill information.

Note: You may notice that some websites won’t function normally when using Private Browsing, so try turning it off if you’re running into issues.

How to use Private Browsing on iPhone and iPad

For iOS 15, read along here for how Private Browsing works

With iOS 14

  1. Open Safari and tap the two square-icon at the bottom of your screen (if you don’t see the icon, tap near the bottom of the screen)
  2. Tap Private 
  3. Now tap the + icon to open a new site in a Private window (you’ll also see any existing Safari windows in Private Browsing)
  4. When you want to use a standard window, head back to the Safari page manager (two-square icon) and tap Private again to turn it off, then tap Done

If you turn on Private Browsing and haven’t used it before or don’t have any open windows this is what you’ll see:

How to use Private Browsing on iPhone and iPad walkthrough 1

You can quickly tell if you are using Private Browsing as the url/search bar will appear with a dark theme instead of white or gray for standard windows. Also, the white highlight around Private shown above on the right) means it is turned on.

Tap the + symbol at the bottom middle of the screen and start browsing. When you’re finished using Private Browsing, tap the double square-icon and tap Private and Done.

Your open Safari windows in Private Browsing and standard mode will remain open if you go back and forth between them without closing the windows.

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to utilize Handoff between your Private Browsing Safari windows and other Apple devices.

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.