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How to turn private browsing on or off on an iPad

Keep your Safari searching secrets safe…


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Private browsing is a handy feature that helps you keep your online activities discreet. When you use private browsing, Safari won't remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your autofill information after you close the window. This can be particularly useful if you're planning a surprise party, shopping for gifts, or just want to keep your browsing habits private.

Now, let’s look at how to enable and disable this feature on your iPad. We’ll walk you through the simple steps to turn private browsing on and off in Safari, explore why you might want to use it, discuss its limitations, and show you how to boost your privacy even more with ad blockers. Let’s get started.

Turning on private browsing

Enabling private browsing on your iPad is quick and easy. Simply follow these steps to keep your browsing history away from prying eyes:

  1. Open Safari. Start by tapping the Safari icon on your iPad’s home screen. This icon looks like a blue compass on a white background.

  2. Access tab view. In the lower-right corner of the Safari window, you'll see two overlapping squares. Tap this icon to open the tab view, where you can see all your open tabs.

  3. Enter private mode. In the tab view, you'll notice a button labelled "Private" in the lower-left corner. Tap "Private" to switch Safari into private browsing mode. You'll know you're in private mode when the background of Safari turns dark grey or black.

  4. Open a new private tab. Once you're in private mode, tap the "+" icon in the lower-middle section of the screen to open a new private tab. From here, you can start browsing privately.

That’s it! You're now browsing privately. Safari won’t store your browsing history, search history, or any cookies from this session.

Turning off private browsing

When you’re ready to return to normal browsing mode, here’s how you can turn off private browsing:

  1. Open Safari. If Safari isn't already open, tap its icon to launch the app.

  2. Go to tab view. Tap the overlapping squares icon in the lower-right corner to bring up the tab view.

  3. Exit private mode. In the tab view, you’ll see the "Private" button highlighted in a darker shade. Tap "Private" again to exit private browsing mode.

  4. Switch to a regular tab. Once you've exited private mode, you can either close all the private tabs by tapping the "X" on each one or simply tap the "+" icon to open a new regular tab.

And just like that, you're back to normal browsing. Safari will now resume tracking your history and other data.

Private browsing - benefits and limitations

Private browsing offers several benefits that make it a useful tool in lots of different scenarios. Such as:

  • Protecting your privacy. As the name strongly suggests, private browsing helps keep your browsing history confidential. This is particularly useful if you share your device with others or if you're using a public or shared network.

  • Testing websites. If you're a web developer or designer, private browsing allows you to test websites without the interference of cached data or cookies.

  • Handling multiple accounts. Private browsing is also handy for logging into multiple accounts on the same site without having to log out from the primary account.

However, it’s also important to understand the limitations of private browsing:

  • Local protection only. Private browsing prevents your browser from saving your activity, but it doesn’t hide your activity from your internet service provider (ISP), network administrator, or websites that you visit.

  • No actual anonymity. Here’s an important point. Private browsing doesn't actually provide anonymity. Websites can still track you using your IP address, and ads can still follow you around based on that information.

  • It’s all temporary. Any downloaded files or bookmarks created will remain on your device even after you exit private browsing mode.

Enhancing your privacy with ad blockers

To take your privacy to the next level, you might want to consider using ad blockers in conjunction with private browsing.

Apps like Ghostery can help prevent ads from tracking your online behaviour, giving you an additional layer of privacy. Here’s how to get it:

  1. Download Ghostery. Go to the App Store and search for "Ghostery." Download and install the app on your iPad.

  2. Enable Ghostery in Safari. After installing Ghostery, go to your iPad’s Settings app. Scroll down and tap on "Safari."

  3. Enable content blockers. Under Safari settings, tap on "Content Blockers." You should see Ghostery listed here. Toggle the switch to enable it.

  4. Customise your settings. Open the Ghostery app to customise your ad-blocking settings. You can choose to block all ads or allow certain types of ads if you prefer.

  5. Browse with enhanced privacy. With Ghostery up and running, you can now browse safe in the knowledge that multiple trackers and ads are being blocked, enhancing your overall privacy.

By combining private browsing with an ad blocker like Ghostery, you can create a more secure and private browsing experience. You get the benefit of not having your activity saved on your device, while preventing ads and trackers from following you around the web.

Need more help?

Looking for more advice for your iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air or iPad Pro?. iPad not charging? Here’s how to fix it. Also, here’s some info on how to delete apps from your iPad and how to rotate your iPad screen.

If you’d like to get the most out of your tablet, check out our range of accessories including iPad keyboards. Or if you’re looking for a brand new iPad, find out which iPad is right for you.

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