Quickly enable Private Browsing

Normally when you are browsing the internet, Safari keeps a record of things like the pages you have visited, the files you have downloaded and the searches you have made. In most circumstances this is great as it can save time and help you retrace your steps. However, in some cases you may prefer to leave no record of your browsing, for example when you are using a public computer.

Safari’s Private Browsing mode is great for this. Just go to the Safari menu and choose “Private Browsing.” Click OK in the dialog box that appears and then you are browsing privately. Safari won’t store the sites you visit in the History menu, and your Google searches won’t be added to the Recent Searches menu.

Safari Private Browsing

Enabling and disabling Private Browsing through the Safari menu can be a bit annoying, especially if you find yourself doing it often. Luckily there are a couple of ways to speed this up.

In all menus in Mac OS X, an item followed by an ellipsis (…) means that action will be followed by a dialog box. If you hold down the Option key while the Safari menu is open, you will notice that the ellipsis after Private Browsing disappears. Now when you click it, you will skip the dialog box. This is a great trick for skipping the “Are you sure?” type dialog boxes in any Mac OS X application.

When Private Browsing is enabled, a “Private” button will appear the in address. Just click this button to quickly exit Private Browsing mode and return to normal browsing. This also has an “Are you sure?” dialog box, but Option-clicking it will skip it in a similar way.

Private Button Address Bar

You can also create a keyboard shortcut that does the same thing. Open up System Preferences and go to the Keyboard section. Under the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, click the “Application Shortcuts” item at the bottom of the list on the left.

Now click the plus (+) button to add a new shortcut. Choose Safari from the Application drop-down menu, and type “Private Browsing” into the Menu Title field. Make sure you don’t add the ellipsis (…) unless you still want the dialog box to pop up. Finally, choose your keyboard shortcut. I use Command-Shift-P.

Private Browsing Shortcut

Now when you return to Safari, there should be a new Private Browsing item in the Safari menu, without the ellipsis and with your chosen keyboard shortcut next to it. Pressing these keys should quickly toggle Private Browsing on and off without you dealing with dialog boxes or having to go to menus.

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