Google Chrome allows you to browser in three different modes. In normal mode, Chrome records all your browsing history and cookies in browser’s cache. Incognito and guest modes allow you to browser without storing any historical records. In this article let us explore incognito mode vs. guest mode in Google Chrome.
Chrome Incognito Mode
After launching Chrome, press “Control + Shift + N” in Windows or “Command + Shift + N” in macOS. This will open a new incognito windows also referred as in-private or private mode.
Chrome will show an incognito icon like spy next to the address bar when you are in incognito mode. You will always see a dark page showing the message “You’ve gone incognito”. It is also possible to open Chrome in incognito mode by default.
Chrome Guest Mode
When you open Chrome in normal mode, you will see your profile icon next to the address bar. Click on that and choose “Open Guest Window” option.
It will open a new window saying, “You’re browsing as a guest”.
Again click on that guest profile icon and choose “Exit Guest” option to guest mode.
After exiting guest mode, Chrome will show all the available profiles along with option to add person.
Incognito Vs. Guest Mode – What’s Common?
The purpose of both incognito and guest modes is to avoid Chrome saving all your browsing history. So that no one can view your activity and you can browse in private. Below is the common behavior of Chrome in both modes:
- Chrome will still store downloads history. Anyone can go to “chrome://downloads” and find all list of files you have downloaded during browsing. If you don’t anyone to see the download history then you need to delete him or her manually.
- You can bookmarks the URL; it works similar to normal mode.
- The thumbnails on the new tab page will not show sites browsed with incognito or guest mode since there will be no history information.
- Chrome will still store cookies and other website data but delete all the details when quitting incognito or guest mode.
- Network administrator, website owner and internet service providers can still track the websites you visit and the files served when you are browsing.
Incognito Vs. Guest Mode – What’s the Difference?
There are many differences between incognito and guest modes.
1. Toggling Modes
Chrome allows using all three modes in parallel. However, incognito and normal mode options will be available together in menu. But when you are in guest mode, there will be no normal or incognito mode options available.
You can simply close the browser window to exit incognito or guest mode and go to the normal mode.
2. Profile Suggestions
Both guest and incognito modes offer similar functions. The important difference is that during guest mode, you will not get any suggestions from Chrome, as no profile settings will be linked to your activities. For example, when you start typing the URL in the address, you will get predictions from the profile history in incognito mode. On guest mode you will not see any suggestions.
Remember, you don’t need to login to your Google account for using profiles. By default Chrome will assign “Person 1” as your profile when you are not logged in and suggest based on the history records of that profile. When you logged in with your Google account then Chrome will store all activities under your Google account. On other hand, guest mode will not have any profile on Chrome.
3. Bookmarks Bar
Chrome version 70+ allows disabling bookmarks bar when you open a webpage. However, it will still show bookmarks bar on new tab page in normal and incognito modes. Guest mode will not show any bookmarks bar on new tab as well as when you open webpages. Also you will not see the bookmark icon, bookmark/ history menu items in guest mode.
When you try to access bookmarks or history using command URL, then Chrome will show bookmarks or download is not available to guest users.
When to Use Incognito and Guest Mode?
You may get confused since both of these options are similar.
- Use incognito mode on your own computer when you don’t want Chrome to store history. You will still get suggestion of your previously accessed sites from your profile.
- Use guest mode when you borrow computer from others or when using public computer. If you use incognito mode on other’s computer, you will still get suggestions from his / her profile usage which will reveal the sites accessed by him / her.
Disable Incognito and Guest Mode
Chrome does not all disabling these modes by default. You can disable incognito mode by modifying the backend browser settings. Check out how to disable incognito mode in Windows 10 and macOS.
Earlier, Chrome allows creating supervised profiles and locks other profiles using supervised profiles. Guest mode will be disabled on Chrome when the profile is locked. However, Google discontinued creating new supervised profiles in Chrome and recommend using Family Link for supervising children accounts.