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How To Disable Private Browsing in Firefox

Posted by Jamie on March 13, 2019

If you’re managing younger internet users and want to keep an eye on their activities, disabling private browsing is one way to do it. This tutorial will show you how to disable private browsing in Windows. That will include Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Microsoft Edge.

If you use internet monitoring software, private browsing can circumvent website blocks in some situations. Combined with not leaving a trace of where users have been at any given time, it may be a good idea to turn off private browsing or incognito mode altogether.

What is private browsing?

Different browsers call it different things. Chrome-based browsers call it Incognito Mode. Firefox calls it Private Browsing and Microsoft Edge calls it InPrivate Browsing. Either way, the effect is the same. The browser sets up a sandboxed session where no history, cookies or session stats are retained. Once the browser is shut down, there is no trace of what you did during that session.

Private browsing can be useful if you share your computer with others for surfing secretly, not letting others know where you bank or what you watch on Netflix.

Disable private browsing

If you have children or vulnerable people in your household, disabling private browsing means they won’t be able to hide their activities or circumvent internet monitoring or blocking software. This can be useful if you are concerned about the places they might go while online.

Disable private browsing for Chrome

To disable private browsing for Chrome you need to make a registry change. This is quite safe as long as you follow the instructions exactly.

  1. Type ‘regedit’ into the Windows Search box and select Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome’.
  3. Create a Google entry if there isn’t one by right clicking in the left pane, selecting New and Key and naming it Google. Repeat this from inside the Google key and call the new key Chrome’.
  4. Select your new Chrome key in the left pane and right click an empty space in the right pane.
  5. Select New and then DWORD (32-Bit) Value.
  6. Name it ‘IncognitoModeAvailability’ and give it a value of 1.
  7. Restart Chrome if it’s open and test.

You should no longer see the option to select Incognito Mode within Chrome.

Disable private browsing for Firefox

To disable private browsing in Firefox, you need to download a JSON file from GitHub. There are registry changes you could make but I couldn’t get those to work on my Windows 10 PC. This JSON file worked fine.

  1. Download the Windows file from GitHub
  2. Navigate to your Firefox installation directory.
  3. Open or create a folder called ‘distribution’.
  4. Place the JSON file inside that folder.
  5. Try to open a private window in Firefox to test.

If that doesn’t work, you could try the registry tweak as it may work for you.

  1. Type ‘regedit’ into the Windows Search box and select Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Mozilla\Firefox’.
  3. Create a Mozilla entry if there isn’t one by right clicking in the left pane, selecting New and Key and naming it Mozilla. Repeat this from within the Mozilla key and call the new key Firefox.
  4. Select that final Firefox key in the left pane and right click an empty space in the right pane.
  5. Select New and then DWORD (32-Bit) Value.
  6. Name it ‘DisablePrivateBrowsing’ and give it a value of 1.
  7. Shut down Firefox if it is open and test it.

If either of these work, you should no longer see the option for private browsing in Firefox.

Disable private browsing for Opera

Opera is based on Blink which is the same as Chrome and while some features have been adapted or changed, the basic features are the same. Therefore the method above should work by changing the folders to Opera, Opera instead of Google Chrome.

Otherwise I cannot find any way of disabling private browsing in Opera.

Disable private browsing for Microsoft Edge

To disable private browsing in Microsoft Edge you have to edit Group Policy within Windows. Windows 10 Home may not allow you to use Group Policy but Windows 10 Pro will.

  1. Select the Windows Key + R to bring up the Run dialog.
  2. Type ‘gpedit.msc’ into the box and hit Enter.
  3. Navigate to ‘Computer Configuration/ Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Internet Explorer/privacy’ using the left menu.
  4. Double click ‘Turn Off In-Private Filtering’ and change it to Enabled.

You should no longer see the option to use InPrivate browsing.

There are many reasons why you might want to disable private browsing in Windows and now you know how. Do you know of any other effective ways to do it? Know of a way of disabling it for Opera? Tell us about it below if you do!

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