How to Disable Private Browsing on Your iPhone

September 9, 2020 • Devin Partida

With private browsing active, you can visit websites using Safari without creating new search history entries. Safari also won’t remember cookies or AutoFill data from private browsing sessions.

Private browsing is a useful feature, but not one you always want to be active.

Turning private browsing on and off in Safari is simple. You can also fully disable the feature, preventing the use of private browsing from within Safari by changing your Screen Time settings.

In this article, we’ll cover both how to turn private browsing on and off and how to completely disable the feature with a change to your phone’s settings.

How to Turn Private Browsing on or off

To turn private browsing on, follow these steps:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Tap the New Page button.
  3. Tap Private, then Done.

The newly opened page will be in private browsing mode.

To exit private browsing, follow the same steps. Your new page will not be in private mode.

How to Deactivate Private Browsing 

You can also entirely deactivate private browsing with a change of your phone’s settings. To disable private browsing, do this:

  1. Open your phone’s Settings, then tap Screen Time.
  2. On the panel that opens, tap the Content & Privacy Restrictions label, then the Content Restrictions label.
  3. Choose to Enable Restrictions if you haven’t already, then enter a passcode. Be sure to remember this passcode — you’ll need it to lift or add restrictions in the future.
  4. Scroll down to the Web Content option, then tap it.
  5. Press Limit Adult Content.

The option beneath Limit Adult Content, Allowed Websites Only, will also disable private browsing. However, you’ll only be able to visit whitelisted sites while it’s active.

The next time you launch Safari, the option to enable private browsing won’t be available at all. Enabling this feature will also activate the adult content filter, meaning access to some websites may be disabled by default. The filter uses a content-detection algorithm to determine which sites will be limited, meaning it may accidentally catch some websites.

You can whitelist specific websites, allowing you to access them while either content filter is active. To whitelist websites, return to the Web Content panel. Then, tap Add Website below Always Allow.

Disabling Third-Party Browsers

This restriction, however, will only disable private browsing in Safari. If you have other browsers installed on your phone — like Chrome or Firefox — their private browsing modes will still be available. It’s not possible to permanently disable private browsing for these browsers on an iPhone. Still, you can block the installation of new apps, which will effectively allow you to deactivate private browsing in third-party browsers.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open your phone’s Settings again and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap the Content & Privacy Restrictions label, then the Content Restrictions label.
  3. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases. Next, tap Installing Apps, then Don’t Allow.

This will prevent anyone from downloading a new app to your phone. You will have to lift the restriction if you need to download a new app in the future.

Blocking the download of new apps won’t prevent someone with your phone from using third-party browsers that are currently installed, however. You’ll either need to uninstall those browsers or restrict their use.

Fully Disabling Private Browsing on Your iPhone

Private browsing is a useful feature in most browsers that lets you browse without accepting cookies or creating new history entries. It’s easy to deactivate the feature in Safari using your iPhone’s settings. 

If you want to deactivate private browsing in a third-party browser, however, you’ll probably need to limit the use of that browser altogether. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to limit the use and download of third-party apps with your iPhone’s content restriction settings.

Disabling third-party browsers and limiting private browsing in Safari will effectively disable private browsing on your iPhone.

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