How to Turn On Private Browsing on the iPad

How to Turn On Private Browsing on the iPad 10

Starting with  iOS 5.0, iPad and iPhone users had the ability to turn on or enable private browsing in Safari.  In addition to using an iPad privacy screen, private browsing increases your security and allows you to browse internet pages on the iPad without a record of your activities being stored in Safari’s history. Apple has made it even easier to use private browsing on your iOS device. You no longer even need to go into the settings as shown below:

This is how you used to have to turn on private browsing

You Will Need

  • iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch


  1. Open the Safari app on your iPad or iPhone by tapping the Safari icon.
  2. Next, touch the    icon in the bottom right corner. This is the same button that allows you to switch browsing windows, but also gives you access to private browsing.
  3. Select “Private” in the bottom left of the next screen to turn on private browsing.
  4. A pop-up will appear asking if you want to “Close All” or “Keep All” existing pages (or cancel). Make your selection and private browsing will now be open.
  5. You will know private browsing is on because the color of the menu bars in Safari will be a dark grey when active.
  6. To turn off private browsing on the iPhone, just reverse the directions above. The menu bars in Safari will be a very light grey when inactive.

Simply reverse the above directions at any time to turn off private browsing. Remember, for true privacy when you’re using your iPad in public, consider using products that make it hard for others to see what you’re doing.

10 thoughts on “How to Turn On Private Browsing on the iPad

  1. Reply Amber Feb 21,2015 4:29 pm

    So I have “private browsing” exhibited by the grey screen, but was surprised that there is still a history showing, similar to when I am not in the ” private” section. When I toggle between private and non-private, the some of the same listings appear. Some websites don’t track, but in this case it is a person’s bankruptcy filing that I don’t want showing. Does it “intuit” that some websites should never be tracked where some are okay? Doesn’t make sense to me.

    Thank you for your help.


    • Reply Dan Feb 26,2015 8:36 am

      Hi Amber,

      When you toggle between private and non-private, the history from private should not be showing at all. You can always manually clear out the history by going into Safari, clicking the icon that looks like a book, hit “Clear” in the bottom right, and then select how much you want to clear (last hour, day, etc.).

      Hope this helps some!


      • Reply Amber Mar 2,2015 6:58 pm

        Thanks Dan. I installed 8.1.3, and did a clear history through Safari settings. You still need to hit the plus button next to the two squares and then “X” out of the last tab you were in. That way if anyone pucks up your laptop, there will truly be no memory of your searches. I did find that it showed my search history from the “regular view”. I still would prefer a private or not private choice. This is just too klugy.

        Thank you so much for your help Dan. It is appreciated. 😉

  2. Reply Leo Feb 14,2015 2:11 pm

    On my screen privacy button is top right not bottom right. There’s also a + sign and a “done.” Whatever I do doesn’t work. After trying, I return to my, try to access mail and am told I must first turn off private browsing.

    • Reply Dan Feb 26,2015 8:40 am

      Hi Leo,

      You are correct and I’m about to update this post to reflect the latest OS. If you select private again (bottom left on iPhone screen), it will exit private browsing. When NOT in private browsing, the color of the edges of the screen will be a very light grey while when you ARE in private browsing it is a dark grey.

      Try this and see if it takes care of the issue.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Reply Colleen Dec 23,2014 9:58 pm

    I do not have “private” on the bottom left of my screen. IOS 8.1.2 ipad
    Please help

    • Reply Dan Jan 26,2015 9:18 am

      Hi Colleen,

      I actually am in the midst of updating this post as Apple has made it easier to use private browsing now. Open Safari on your iPad and hit the button that allows you to create a new window (looks like two overlapping squares). Then you should see a button that says “Private” which you can hit to toggle private browsing.


  4. Reply Angela Dec 6,2014 8:41 am

    Still finding it difficult to find Private Browsing. Why does it not just have a tag that says “Private Browsing – on-off” like any other instruction!

    • Reply Dan Jan 26,2015 9:16 am

      Hi Angela,

      Try this…open the Safari app, hit the button in the bottom right that looks like two squares, then you will see the word “Private” in the bottom left. Hit that to turn private browsing on and off.


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