The incognito mode is a browser’s delight. And why not? It guards your web identity and hides your activities from someone who has access to your device. With the right precautionary measures, websites can’t track you and throw targeted ads your way. Yet, some users find that the mode has suddenly disappeared from Chrome. No amount of Shift+Control+N can revive it. Not even hurriedly deleting complete browsing data is sufficient.
Sadly, certain errors in browser settings can cause incognito to malfunction and expose your browsing habits to spies, scammers, and marketers.
Should you panic now?
Yes and No.
While this is a common issue faced by users on Windows or Mac, there are common fixes too. And they all start with finding the exact reason for the debacle.
So, why is my incognito mode disabled?
1. Altered or corrupted browser settings
The incognito mode may disappear if you have tampered with the browser settings. The culprit could be a small file you downloaded. It might also just get altered with time as is the case with most devices. In both these situations, the easiest and shortest trick is to move back to the default settings.
Launch Chrome > Setting > Advanced > Restore setting to their original defaults > Reset Settings
And you’re back in business! Just remember though, when you restore default settings, you automatically give up on all the customization you put in over the years. This is going to clean out all saved data and history, so save what you need before hitting the rewind button. This is not something experts would ask users to attempt without caution.
2. Malware attack
The scourge of all things virtual, malware takes browser controls out of your hand. In fact, unfiltered malware locks browsing in incognito mode, forcing you to divulge a lot more to your virtual audience than you intended. It may damage more than your browser. It might delete all your important data as well! Here’s how you can get rid of one (or many) items of malware on Mac and Windows.
Chrome> New Tab > Copy & Paste chrome://settings/cleanup on the URL > Chrome Cleanup Tool > Find
Once you hit it, Chrome would begin scanning your device for harmful software. If it spots any, it would display a prompt on the computer screen.
Once all suspicious programs are identified and contained, Chrome would start functioning smoothly again. The browser will be restored to default configurations. Restart your device promptly to check if the scan has worked and incognito browsing is back on.
3. Microsoft Family restrictions
The Family list may impose restrictions on your browsing activities. No surprises here!
This affects Windows users only (surprise!). But they can get around it. You can either remove yourself as a Child user from your Microsoft family or help a Child member gain access to incognito mode. However, if you’re a parent and you need to check your child’s browsing habits to ensure their safety, you might not want to do it. Also, if you’re a child, you might be breaking your family’s computer access rules so it’s best to discuss these things with the grownups of your family before doing it.
Here’s how you can remove yourself:
Microsoft Family Management window > Your account > Leave Family > Remove
For removing someone else, you visit the same portal but first, you turn off all keys that restrict access to many things like inappropriate sites, shopping, and even send alerts to parents if child members make purchases. Then it’s more of the same process.
Microsoft Family > Account > More Options > Remove from family > Remove
You should find incognito Mode after you restart your device and launch Chrome. This will remove you from the family setting. But as stated earlier, it’s best to discuss things with grownups in your family before doing this.
4. Bug-y extensions
When you download extensions, they may secretly usurp browser control or modify them. Many uses recommend either completely uninstalling extensions or at least disabling them for every page you visit or app you use. While this may pose some virtual discomfort, you will not be risking an attack on your online identity.
This can be done in two ways – disable-reboot-check – for each page, or once and all for every page/app.
Launch Chrome > type chrome://extensions/ on the address bar > Extensions window > Slide switch on bottom right to Off position > Remove > New dialog box opens with Remove (app name/extension)? > click Remove
As usual, restart your computer and click on Chrome to check for Incognito.
5. IncognitoModeAvailability Key in the registry
You may not want to do this. This is nerd level stuff. Normally, users would take help from an equally geeky cousin.
So here’s what happens when the registry misses a Chrome key. Sometimes, Chrome may not display the incognito Mode choice because the availability key has gone corrupt. This broken key has disabled private browsing. This key may be corrected and users do it themselves, but you need to be an Administrator to bring about the changes.
Time to show your geek reflexes:
Press Window button and hit R simultaneously > Run prompt > type regedit > Ok > go to HKEY_Local_Machine\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome > Chrome Folder on Side bar on Left > Chrome > Double -click on IncognitoModeAvailabilty
Still here? Good.
The final few steps are:
edit DWORD 32-bit Value>Input 0 in the Value Data Box>Ok
Told you, its next-level stuff. Similar to restoring factory settings, experts suggest that users need not tinker with the Registry key since it could take the entire browser system for a toss.
Configuring browser settings too difficult?
If configuring incognito mode often is not what you mean by easy browsing, then perhaps a new browser would do the trick. Shifting to another browser like Kingpin takes away the pain of activating/disabling undercover browsing. It has a default Incognito mode that takes care to erase off your browsing or viewing trail. That translates to an additional layer of virtual security. It has no provision to keep records of any data you upload or sites you visit. The chances of falling prey to data leak and phishing are reduced substantially.
Now you know why Chrome refuses masked browsing to some users. You also know the tools to reload the disguised mode anytime. Make the changes step by step and restart your machine to browse in disguised mode. In addition, you have the option of using a different browser like Kingpin to surf the web in incognito by default. This option is especially useful when you browse on shared or public devices.