What Is Safari Private Browsing?
Safari is one of the most secure browsers out there, simply because it belongs to Apple’s tough, ‘sandboxed’ system. For Safari Private Browsing, this is thanks to Apple’s infamous WebKit software implementation. In this system, everything from the apps in the app store to the program level is sieved through a guarded system. Safari Browser does not allow much third-party or miscellaneous access. This is a completely different approach from the direction Google and its Android devices take. That is, to make everything compatible with everything. This, then, of course, opens up the software to vulnerabilities and hacking. Apple is trying to stop by shrouding its software in a blanket of kryptonite.
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Everything is controlled from the top by Apple. And must comply with their standards. This is what makes the brand great and gives its minimalist charm.
However, nothing is perfect in the software (or hardware) world. Ultimately, it is you (the user) who needs to be educated and aware of the potential and the limitations of your hardware and software.
The fact that Apple’s software (like the Safari browser in this case) is so strictly controlled and sanitized of everything non-Apple. It makes it rough in terms of interoperability. As a result, it has compatibility issues with several services and software products made by other brands. For instance, Apple engineers keep working on making the Microsoft and Google services we use smooth on the Safari browser.
But, how about Safari’s incognito browsing mode? Have you heard of it? Well, much like Apple’s approach to security and minimalism, the browser has a private browsing mode that is different from the regular browsing mode (and many people often miss it).
What Is the Safari Browser and What Is Safari Private Browsing?
Then again, Safari is one of the facets of what makes macOS and iOS devices so great. It is that smoothness and simplicity you get. But, how does it fare against other browsers’ incognito or private browsing modes? Let’s take a look at that.
Now, it is key to understand that the Safari private browsing mode does not make you invisible online. You’d need at least a VPN or virtual private network to change your IP and encrypt your connection to do that (or to use Tor all the time).
What Safari Private Browsing mode can do is stop it from remembering sites you’ve visited as well as not store any private info you may have typed in online. This can include usernames, passwords, bank account information, and things like that. Furthermore, in this mode, the browser will delete your search engine searches and preferences. As well as reduce your digital footprint (depending on how you set it up).
What is Digital footprint?
What is that you may ask?
A digital footprint is that little trail of information (often called breadcrumbs, too) that you leave behind when you browse the internet. This is data that can be stored in your browser and has cookies (which private browsing does not keep) or data that your browser gives to other websites.
The data that your browser (most browsers except Tor) silently passes on to other websites is data such as your hardware information, location, headers, IP information, as well as WebRTC and WebGL identifiers. All of this can be used to locate your or identify you. And we want that gone if we’re wanting to be ‘private’, right?
This cannot be stopped in Safari private browsing, however, you can use a premium VPN to alleviate these issues. Unfortunately, Android devices are much more flexible when it comes to hidden developer options (due to WebKit). Then again, if you have nothing to hide, blocking WebRTC and WebGL is not that big of a deal. A VPN will help you flip your IP address (the most important bit). This tells websites and services exactly where you are in.
Now, accessing Safari Private Browsing is simple. On a Mac, you go to File followed by New Private Window. You’ll know you are in this mode once you are met with a darker URL address bar. For the iPhone, the process is different.
On an iPhone, on iOS 15 and 16, you want to select the ‘new tab’ section on the bottom right when you open the browser. Then, hit the Tab Groups in the middle and select Private (you should see a hand icon there). The process should be similar for the iPad as well.
Other Alternatives to Safari Private Browsing/Incognito Mode
Private Browsing or Incognito mode (the name differs from brand to brand) is great at not storing information as well as browsing history. What it cannot do is make you invisible. If you want to pass an online anonymity test with flying colors (meaning 100% anonymity) you’ll need to either use a variant of the Tor browser on Apple devices. Or do your browsing on an older Android device that has Mozilla Firefox Nightly and the uBlock Origin extension. You do need those deep, hidden developer options (like with Nightly) to be able to fully switch off things like RTC and GL to achieve 100% anonymity online (when combined with a VPN, that is).
Otherwise, there is no reason to worry that much because, as we said earlier, anonymization software like NordVPN or any other premium VPN will get you almost all the way there! Once you run an anonymity test and your public IP reflects the VPN server, and no other IP is visible (such as your own) you know that you are in the clear.
Other than that, feel free to reap the benefits of Apple’s Safari Private Browsing mode when purchasing things online. Searching for things and not store them in the history of your browser, and blocking a bunch of ads and third-party cookies as well. If you want just that little extra anonymity without having to use a VPN on an Apple device, you need a variant of Tor. Unfortunately, Apple’s system does not support the original Tor browser, but you can use the Onion browser instead!
Vice President, İntelligent Design & Consultancy Ltd
Over 12 years of global & rich experience in Portfolio & Program Delivery Management in leading & managing IT Governance, PMO, IT Portfolio/Program, IT Products, IT service delivery management, Budget Management, and more.