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Keeping Surprises Secret With Private Browsing

Do you share a computer with someone? Does your significant other use the same computer as you? Are you an avid online shopper? Keep your gift browsing habits secret to prevent ruining the holiday surprise! Many websites are now using the “you recently viewed” feature, where many ad companies, like Google, will display ads for products or pages you recently looked at.

Not too long ago, I saw a set of blue diamond earrings at a local jewelry shop. The next day, I was asked if I was looking at jewelry, because a lot of jewelry ads seemed to be coming up on sites with advertisements. Of course, I told a white lie, “oh no, probably just the holidays,” but got caught when she typed in “blue” and discovered my recent search for blue diamond earrings.

So, how do you search for gifts without the surprise being ruined? The best and easiest thing to do is activate the private browsing function of your web browser. This will not save any cookies, history, or information about where you’ve been searching. Although this won’t necessarily stop the companies from tracking what you’ve been viewing (based on your computer’s IP address), it can prevent a spouse from looking at search history, or an online store showing recently viewed items.

To activate private browsing mode:

 Firefox: Click on the Firefox icon and click Start Private Browsing.


Internet Explorer:  Click on the gear, click Safety, then click InPrivate Browsing.


Chrome:  Click on the settings button (the three horizontal lines) and click New incognito window.