Do we want to keep a history trace even if we surf incognito? Let’s see how to do that.
Incognito mode is famous on all modern browsers for not leaving traces of our passage (which is very important on shared PCs): just close the browser at the appropriate time, so as to delete all the sites visited and logins made during the browsing session. In reality, incognito mode leaves traces scattered around the computer, which can be used to retrieve the pages visited during the session; this trick is very useful if you don’t remember an important page and want to retrieve it even after closing the incognito browser.
Google Chrome is the most used browser in the world, so we’ll focus the guide on it, so we can satisfy the need to keep track of the history even in incognito mode. In the other chapters of the guide, we’ll find tricks to be able to find the sites visited in incognito and how to prevent traces from remaining while browsing.
In this guide we’ll first show you how to always put the browser in incognito mode and, for those who need to recover visited pages, we’ll also show you the trick to recover the history if we’re in incognito. Obviously, for users who are eager for privacy, we will also show you how to make the trick null and void, erasing the traces left on the computer, making the section truly anonymous.
Always open Google Chrome incognito
To always open the Google Chrome browser incognito we open the Start menu of Windows 10 in the lower-left corner, look for the Google Chrome application, right-click on the icon, choose the Open file path and, once opened the application folder, right-click on the shortcut Google Chrome and press the menu Send to -> Desktop (Create shortcut). Once the shortcut is created (if it was already there we will now find a copy on the desktop to use for the purpose), we right-click on the newly created shortcut on the desktop, click on the Properties menu, make sure we are in the Shortcut tab, go to the Destination text field and add, at the end of the indicated path (without removing anything) space and the words -incognito.
Before confirming, let’s go to the General tab and change the name of the shortcut as well, such as Incognito or Anonymous Browsing, to easily distinguish it from other Chrome shortcuts on the desktop. Press OK and try to open the shortcut by double-clicking the mouse: if we’ve done everything correctly we’ll see Chrome’s incognito mode open immediately, without having to press any buttons or menus.
Store history with an extension
Now that we know how to force incognito mode to start, we’ll show you the first trick to keep track of visited sites in incognito mode, which involves using the Session Buddy extension, installable for free from the Chrome Web Store.
To add it to your browser, click on the Add to Chrome button at the top right; once the installation is complete, click on the menu with the three dots at the top right, open the Other Tools > Extensions path, identify the Session Buddy extension, click on the Details button and, on the page that opens, activate the switch next to the Allow incognito mode item.
Now that the browser is ready we can start surfing incognito: we can also leave this configuration to control the PC of a minor or a child, who will hardly notice the difference from the normal anonymous session. To check the visited pages in incognito we open the Google Chrome browser again, press on the top right corner on the puzzle icon, click on the Session Buddy extension, and, in the new screen, check the list of visited sites with the incognito history list (which will show up as a separate list, identified by a hat and sunglasses icon).
Session Buddy is also available as an extension for Chrome-based browsers (the open-source version of Chrome: we can therefore also install it on Microsoft Edge and Opera, just use the same installation link seen for Google Chrome. On Mozilla Firefox we can use a similar extension called Tab Session Manager, available for download from the official website.
Check DNS cache for visited sites
Another effective method to see the history when we are incognito involved checking the DNS cache, that is, the cache in which requests are stored when typed in the address bar. To access the cache open the Start menu of Windows 10 in the lower-left corner, type cmd on the keyboard, open the Command Prompt, and run the command
We will then have access to all sites recorded in the DNS cache, including those we have visited incognito. To facilitate the search for a specific site we press CTRL+F on the keyboard and use the built-in search system to look for a site, pressing Find Next to widen the search to various results.
How to increase the privacy of incognito mode
The tricks seen above significantly lower the privacy level whenever we use incognito mode on a PC. In order to achieve an adequate level of privacy we suggest that you regularly (especially after an incognito browsing session) clear the DNS cache by opening the command prompt again and typing the command this time:
To avoid being tracked by extensions we use a browser without extensions, even better if portable (i.e. bootable without installation on the PC). Below we have collected links to download portable versions of the main web browsers:
Privacy is a very relative thing on PCs: even when it seems that no one can keep track of our browsing, here are extensions and a DNS cache always present on computers that can let you know what sites we have visited even in incognito. For those who want to control the sites of a specific computer, we have shown how to always open the browser incognito, how to track navigation and how to retrieve sites visited from the DNS cache. To protect our privacy we often clear the DNS cache and use only portable browsers.