7 Unexpected Uses for Incognito Mode – Have you ever had the feeling that someone was watching you? You know, that little bit of uneasiness in the back of your mind. The slight tingle that forces you to turn your head just to make sure. Well if you spend time on the internet, that’s almost certainly true.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo make most of their money selling advertising space. But advertisers don’t like paying for ads that don’t reach their customer base. You wouldn’t expect to find a mascara add in an issue of “Men’s Health” after all. So to solve this problem, search engines like to track their users. That way they know just the right time to jump out of the bushes with a net.
Oops, I mean, jump out of the search results with a sponsored link. As far as I know, Google’s never kidnapped anyone to sell them shampoo, but it’s understandable that some people don’t like the idea of being tracked. For that reason, most browsers now feature an incognito mode to let you search without surveillance. Here are seven lesser-known reasons you might consider browsing incognito.
7 Unexpected Uses for Incognito Mode
1. Borrowing a Computer
Let’s say that one day you’re out buying groceries. The usual stuff: bread, eggs, milk, shrimp tartare, just a regular weekday run. You gather everything up and take it to the register, but for some reason, your card keeps getting declined. Clearly, something is wrong. This is usually where you’d check your banking app to see what’s up, but it just so happens that your phone is dead.
Just one of those days, am I right? Fortunately, you see your friend Jeff has just checked out a few isles down, and you ask to borrow his. Now, you like Jeff, but you don’t exactly know him all that well. You’re more work acquaintances than best buds. So, before going to your bank’s website, you switch his browser into incognito mode.
This way, it won’t save your password or anything else you type in, such as an email address or date of birth. This is the safe thing to do any time you’re on a device other than your own. Whether you’re sending an email, checking your balance, or just logging into Facebook, you don’t want strangers messing with your stuff.
2. Something that Looks Bad Out of Context
So, tell me, are there any creative types of listening? Let me hit you with a hypothetical. Say you’re working on your epic spy thriller when your dashing hero takes a drink from the wrong glass. Now you need to figure out how much time James Reachbower has to get to the hospital without looking like you’re trying to poison your roommate.
Typing something like “how long for cyanide to start working” is going to look kind of suspicious if anyone happens to go through your search history. You might not be plotting anything nefarious, but good luck telling the police it was for a book. While all this writing about espionage might just be making you paranoid, you still don’t want that suspicious search hanging around in your browser history.
By turning on private browsing, you can, at the very least, save yourself some awkward conversations if anyone happens to get a look at your search suggestions. So, if you’re hoping to be the next Ian Fleming, Steven King, or George R. R. Martin, you might want to make sure you’re searching where no one can see it.
3. You’re Searching for Something
Embarrassing Not everything you want to keep secret is going to get you into trouble. Maybe you have a rash and want to know if it’s something to see a doctor about. While you’re glad to know it can be healed with some topical cream, you don’t want to have the words “scaly bum rash” popping up in your search suggestions.
Fortunately, you had the forethought to browse in incognito mode, and you can move on with your life, free from reminders of your itchy episode. Private browsing also comes in handy if you find yourself googling the answer to a question you feel a little bad about not knowing.
Who’s on the one-hundred-dollar bill? What’s the queen’s Name? Is there an apostrophe in “don’t”? How do you even spell apostrophe? These aren’t necessarily dumb questions, but that doesn’t mean you want daily reminders of your previous lack of knowledge. By the way, What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever had to search for? Let me know in the comments!
7 Unexpected Uses for Incognito Mode
4. Controlling video suggestions
Have you ever spent enough time on the internet that you found yourself in that weird part of YouTube? It started innocently enough with cute animals and those weird ASMR videos where someone brushes their hair while whispering into the camera. One thing led to another, and now you’re worrying if you should be calling the police.
The worst part is that weird videos keep showing up in the suggestion box. Even if that hasn’t happened to you, there’s plenty of reasons someone might end up watching a video well outside of their preferences. To keep weird or just unwanted videos from cluttering up your feed, you might consider browsing incognito. You won’t have easy access to things like your YouTube subscriptions, but it will keep one-off watches from haunting your homepage.
5. Using multiple accounts
It’s very common for people to have one account for personal messages and another for work emails. If you’re a college student, you might also get one through your university. That’s not even counting all the other reasons someone might need multiple email addresses.
Signing in and out of multiple accounts can be a real hassle, and if you’re answering that many emails, you’re clearly a busy person. To save some time, try opening each account in a different private browsing window. Instead of having to go through each account one by one, this trick allows you to check and respond to all your messages at once
6. You want to look like a fresh user
As I mentioned earlier, search engines keep track of what pages you look at so they know what targeted ads to send your way. They also try to match your current results to pages you’ve looked at in the past. But say you don’t want to look at the same sites you always do. Say you want to see what you’d find if the algorithm weren’t trying to cater to your tastes.
This is another area where incognito mode can come in handy. You see, it doesn’t just prevent your browser from saving logins and history, it also disguises your computer, hiding it from programs meant to track your usage. Turns out it’s called incognito for a reason. Believe it or not, this trick can actually help you save a bit of money on hotels and airfare.
You see, some booking sites keep track of who’s looking at what destinations. This allows them to adjust the pricing accordingly, potentially charging more for trips you’re seemingly sure to make. While browsing in incognito isn’t guaranteed to save you any money, it’s a useful trick if you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.
7. Gift shopping
Not that I can speak for everyone, but most people like getting free stuff. I know I do. In fact, the only thing better than free stuff is free stuff in a brightly colored box. With that in mind, you might decide to surprise your significant other with a free stuff box of their very own.
You spend weeks thinking about the perfect free stuff to put in the box and finally settle on something you just know they’ll love. You place your order and wait expectedly for the package to arrive. You’ve planed this whole elaborate evening that ends with the revealing of the free stuff box and can’t wait to see the look on their face as they unwrap it.
Then tragedy strikes! Not two days before it arrives, they come up to you and say, “I saw you were Googling tandem bicycles”. Suddenly the surprise is ruined, and they know precisely what they’re getting on the next free stuff receiving day. Man, I really need to come up with a snappier name for that.
While they’ll still appreciate the gesture, it’s just not as much fun if they know what they’re getting. The good news is that this tragedy can be avoided if you use private browsing when shopping for something to put in the free stuff box. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn on incognito mode while I look up shorter words for free stuff box. – 7 Unexpected Uses for Incognito Mode