How to Turn on Private Browsing on Your iPad

Put your iPad in private browsing mode to keep your browsing history secret.

JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Have you ever wanted to turn off the web history on your Safari browser? Private browsing can be a handy way to make sure your kids don't go hunting what you bought them for Christmas on Amazon, and it is now easier than ever to switch on Private Browsing on the iPad, but you do need to know where the magic switch is located.  

Private browsing does three things:

  1. The iPad will no longer keep track of the websites you visit or the searches you perform in the search bar
  2. The iPad will block certain types of 'tracking' cookies from external websites
  3. The border of the Safari app will turn black to indicate you are in private mode

How to Turn on Private Browsing on the iPad

iPad screen shot

 Lifewire

First, tap the Tabs button. It is the button at the top-right corner of the screen that looks like two squares on top of each other. This button brings up all of your open tabs viewed as website thumbnails across the screen.

Next, tap the Private button at the top-right of the display. Yes, it's that simple. 

When you turn on Private browsing, all of your original tabs disappear. Don't worry, they are still there. But you can only see tabs opened in private browsing mode until you turn it back off.

Caution: Privately browsed websites stick around even when you turn off Private browsing.

There's usually a reason why we browse in private mode. Maybe we are buying a present for our spouse and don't want them to see the websites we visit. Perhaps we are trying to get around a newspaper website's paywall. And, certainly, there are other obvious reasons. Most of the time, we don't want to leave a trace of those websites for curious eyes.

Think of Private browsing as Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And if you go back, it will be there. If you exit out of Safari while in Private browsing, the next time the web browser is launched, it will open in Private browsing modes with all websites open. If you close out of Private browsing mode and go back to normal mode, the websites you visited in Vegas are still there. The next time Private mode is turned on, all of those websites will pop back on the screen in tabs.

Make a mistake? If you browsed in 'normal mode' when you meant to browse in 'private mode,' you can correct your mistake by deleting your web history.   

How to Enable/Disable Cookies and Delete Web History on Your iPad

iPad Safari settings screenshot

 Lifewire

The iPad's Safari browser allows you to enable or disable cookies. Most people will want to keep cookies enabled. Websites use cookies to keep track of you and various other settings. Some websites will not work properly without cookies. However, if you are worried about websites keeping a piece of information on your iPad, you can easily disable cookies. You can also quickly delete your web history. 

Apple keeps all of the custom options for most of the default apps (Safari, Notes, Photos, Music, etc.) in the iPad settings, which is where you need to go to enable or disable cookies.

  • First, go to the iPad settings by tapping the settings icon.
  • Next, scroll down the left-side window until you locate Safari. When you tap Safari, the Safari's settings will show up in the main window.
  • To enable/disable cookies, simply locate the Privacy & Security block and change the Block Cookies option. Your choices are Never, Always and ​From third parties and advertisers. The From third parties choice is the best for enabling cookies while keeping a moderate level of security by ensuring you have actually visited the website associated with the cookie. If you want the most secure experience, choosing Never will turn off cookies completely. 

Remember: Many websites are designed to work with cookies and may not work correctly with cookies turned off.

  • To keep websites from tracking you, flip the switch next to Do Not Track. Rather than turn off all cookies, this setting simply turns off the ability for websites to track you across the web.
  • To turn on fraudulent website warning, simply toggle the switch next to the label. The switch for warnings against fraudulent websites is turned off by default. While these warnings aren't perfect -- you could get a warning for a perfectly safe website -- this system does provide an extra layer of security and helps you make more informed decisions on the web.
  • To clear web history and cookies, locate the Clear History and Website Data link at the bottom of the Safari settings. Clearing cookies will erase data such as the username and password you used to sign into websites like Facebook and Twitter as well as any other personal or non-personal information a website has stored about you.