Navigating the Web Anonymously: Chrome Incognito Mode vs. Guest Mode

When it comes to browsing the web, privacy and security are paramount. From a consulting perspective, many of the same websites are logged into with different credentials, many times at the same time. Typically, this can be accomplished by simply using different browsers. If you use the big two (Chrome and Edge), that will give you a total of 2 of the same website you can log into with different credentials.

If that isn’t your reason for trying to find additional browsers, you may be thinking of more common reasons. Whether you’re researching sensitive topics, shopping for a surprise gift, or simply want to keep your online activities discreet, Google Chrome offers two distinct modes that can help: Incognito Mode and Guest Mode. Let’s explore these features and understand their benefits.

Chrome Incognito Mode

What Is It?

Incognito Mode, also known as private browsing, is designed to keep your browsing history, cookies, and site data separate from your regular browsing session. When you open a new Incognito window, Chrome operates in a temporary state where it doesn’t save any information about the websites you visit.

How to Use It:

  1. Open an Incognito Window:
    1. Click the three vertical dots in the top-right corner of Chrome.
    2. Select “New incognito window.”
    3. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + N (Windows/Linux) or Command + Shift + N (Mac).
  2. Browse Anonymously:
    1. Any websites you visit in this mode won’t appear in your browsing history.
    2. Cookies and site data are deleted when you close the Incognito window.
    3. Any saved credentials in your normal Chrome mode will show as available to be automatically filled.

Benefits of Incognito Mode:

  • Another browser: You are not automatically signed into any websites you have saved credentials for. This can be used to sign into a site with different credentials.
  • Privacy: Your browsing activity remains private, especially if you’re using a shared computer.
  • Avoid Tracking: Websites won’t track your behavior through cookies.
  • Testing and Debugging: Developers often use Incognito Mode to test websites without cached data interfering.

Chrome Guest Mode

What Is It?

Guest Mode allows someone else to use Chrome on your device without accessing your personal data. It’s like lending your browser to a friend without revealing your bookmarks, history, or saved passwords. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be a friend; it can be you.

How to Use It:

  1. Activate Guest Mode:
    1. Click your profile circle in the top-right corner of Chrome.
    2. Under other profiles, click “Guest.”
    3. A new window will open, indicating that you’re in Guest Mode.
  2. Guest Browsing:
    1. The guest user can browse freely without leaving any traces.
    2. When they close the Guest Mode window, all data associated with their session is deleted.
    3. Any credentials saved in Chrome’s normal mode are not available in this browsing session.

Benefits of Guest Mode:

  • Privacy for Guests: If someone needs to use your computer temporarily, Guest Mode ensures their privacy.
  • No Account Access: Guests can’t access your bookmarks, extensions, or saved passwords.
  • Safe for Public Computers: When using a public computer, Guest Mode prevents any lingering traces.


Both Incognito Mode and Guest Mode serve specific purposes. Use Incognito Mode when you want to keep your own browsing private and employ Guest Mode when sharing your computer with others. Or you can use both and have a total of 3 different browsing sessions open at the same time. Remember that neither mode provides complete anonymity—your internet service provider and certain websites may still track your activity. However, these features offer a valuable layer of protection for everyday browsing.

So next time you need to venture into the web incognito, choose the mode that best suits your needs. Happy browsing!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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