How to delete incognito history and hide activities

Anton P. | October 3, 2022

Knowing how to delete incognito history means wiping the DNS cache clean from browsing activities you wish to hide. While private modes do not store habits in the traditional sense, they generate data more obscurely.

So, users with administrator rights and Internet Service Providers could still see your browsing data. It takes some tweaking with Domain Name System records to hide your browsing in incognito. Thus, let’s see how to delete incognito history on mobile and desktop.

Is incognito really more private than regular browsing?

Incognito or private browsing modes are not as private or stealthy as they appear. Users have been confused or coerced into believing they grant immunity against online tracking.

In fact, Google has faced complaints about its approach to incognito mode. As per court findings, Google had failed to inform users about tracking activities executed in incognito.

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Here is a rundown of common misconceptions regarding incognito mode privacy:

  • The privacy-focused nature of incognito is debatable, as web entities can still track your behavior. For instance, you still participate in tracking analytics tools, ads, and visited websites.
  • Private browsing modes do shield users from having all browser history readily available. Thus, records of your activities won’t get stored on your device.
  • Furthermore, all assumed privacy goes out the window if you log into any service while incognito. Then, the service can associate your behavior with your account.
  • Remember that incognito, or private browsing modes mean enhanced privacy from other people using your device. However, DNS cache makes it possible for roommates or family members to see what you do there. Even if you remove your regular browsing history, retrieving these records through DNS is possible.

So, incognito mode mostly works against privacy invasions when someone with physical access checks your browser history. Besides the physical intrusion, private browsing does little to nothing to stop companies from tracking you online. However, even if you use it for its intended purpose, how to delete incognito history is a worthwhile lesson.

Does incognito track and log visited websites?

Incognito mode does generate data about your activities. However, you cannot view your incognito history through typical browser settings. Instead, you need to access the DNS cache, storing all URL requests you make.

As you might know, DNS is a system matching web addresses with their IP addresses. For instance, after you enter Google.com in the address bar, DNS looks up its IP address and delivers the website.

The DNS cache contains requests from traditional and incognito or private browsing. Thus, learning how to delete incognito history can also serve in fully getting rid of your browser history.

View your incognito history and get rid of it

The process for how to delete incognito history is DNS flushing. It means manually removing all DNS records. Usually, there are multiple reasons to do it:

  • To hide your search history.
  • To clean your system from DNS poisoning and spoofing.
  • To refresh DNS entries and fix technical issues like incorrect versions of displayed sites.

How to delete incognito history on computers:

On Windows:

View private browsing history:

  1. Open Start Menu and enter cmd to run Command Prompt (pick Run as administrator).

  1. In the window, type in ipconfig/displaydns and press Enter.

  1. You should see a detailed list of your DNS queries.

Delete incognito browsing history:

  1. In the Start Menu, write cmd and run Command Prompt as an administrator.

  1. Paste the ipconfig/flushdns command to remove the DNS cache and hit Enter.

On Mac:

View incognito history:

  1. Open Finder and then move to Applications.

  1. Go to Utilities.

  1. Launch Console.
  2. Pick your device from the left side menu.

  1. In the search bar on the right side, enter any:mdnsresponder command.

  1. Locate the Start button and click it.

  1. Return to Utilities and open Terminal.

  1. In the Terminal, enter the sudo killall -INFO mDNSResponder command.

  1. Press enter and confirm with a password.
  2. Return to Console, which should display your incognito history.

Delete incognito history:

  1. Open Finder and click on Applications.

  1. Navigate to Utilities.

  1. Launch Terminal.

  1. Type sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder command in the Terminal. Hit Enter to delete the DNS cache and, with it, incognito history.

  1. You will need to provide your password to confirm your decision.

How to delete incognito history on the phone:

Smartphones do not come with built-in options for viewing your incognito history. However, it is possible to achieve this via third-party tools like parental control software.

Delete incognito history on Android:

  1. Launch Google Chrome and enter chrome://net-internals/#dns in the URL bar.

  1. Pick DNS from the side menu and tap on Clear host cache.

Delete incognito history on iOS:

  1. Launch Chrome and enter the chrome://net-internals/#dns command.

  1. From the side menu, choose DNS and go for the Clear host cache option.
  2. iPhones also get rid of DNS cache after every reboot and Airplane mode toggling.

Use incognito or private browsing with caution

Knowing how to delete incognito history is useful when you want to get rid of all activity traces. However, using private browsing modes alone is not enough. Instead, try combining multiple privacy-focused tools and techniques:

  • Switch to a more private browser. A browser can come with built-in protections against tracking like fingerprinting or cookies.
  • Try out a new search engine. Google gathers every search query you make to personalize your experience. Alternatives like DuckDuckGo do not initiate such tracking, meaning your results will be much more general.
  • Keep browser extensions to a minimum. Having too many browser extensions could help web entities identify your device better.
  • Read cookie notifications and block unnecessary ones. It is best not to agree to all cookies websites have. Take the time to see their purposes and reject non-essential ones. You can also block cookies via browser.
  • Connect to a VPN before going incognito. A VPN can uplift your experience in incognito mode. It encrypts traffic, and even your ISP won’t see what you do online. Furthermore, a VPN masks your IP address, meaning websites cannot recognize you based on this identifier.
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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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