How to lock active incognito tabs on Android Chrome for more privacy

Woman whose facial features are traced.

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Incognito mode is a great way to use Chrome browser on Android without leaving breadcrumbs so websites and services can track you. I use it regularly and it rarely fails me.

However, one thing that has always bothered me about incognito mode is that if I leave an incognito tab open, anyone with access to my phone can see it. It always seemed like a privacy disaster was about to happen.

Likewise: 5 Quick Tips for Better Android Phone Security Now

If you’re serious about your privacy and want to take Chrome’s incognito mode to the next level, I’ve got just the right trick for you.

We will be enabling a feature that requires user authentication before active incognito tabs can be viewed.

That’s chic. Let’s make it happen.

requirements

For this to work, you need an updated Android smartphone with Chrome version 105 or newer. That’s all you need, let’s do it.

How to lock active incognito tabs on Android Chrome for more privacy

This is a bit tricky because we need to set a Chrome flag. To do this, open Chrome on your Android device and either type or copy and paste the following URL into the address bar:

chrome://flags/#incognito-reauthentication-for-android

At the top of the resulting page, you’ll see a drop-down menu labeled Default. Tap on this drop-down menu and select Enabled.

The Chrome flags window in Android.

Locate the correct flag to enable the feature.

Image: Jack Wallen

Next, you should see a Relaunch button at the bottom of the page. Tap on it and Chrome will close and restart.

The Chrome relaunch button on Android.

Restart Chrome on Android from the flags page.

Image: Jack Wallen

Tap the three dots menu button, then tap Settings. Tap Privacy & Security. You should now see a new entry labeled Lock incognito tabs when you exit Chrome. Tap the ON/OFF slider until it is in the ON position. You will then be prompted to enter either your fingerprint, face ID, or PIN. Once you’ve successfully authenticated, you can use Chrome in such a way that if you leave incognito tabs open before you can view them, you’ll need to authenticate yourself.

The ON/OFF switch to lock Incognito mode.

The final step to enable the feature.

Image: Jack Wallen

Note, however, that this won’t work if you actually close Chrome (since that will automatically close your incognito tabs). This only works if you keep Chrome running in memory (e.g. when you open a new app or go to the home screen).

Likewise: The 5 Best Browsers for Privacy: Surf the Internet Safely

There you go, you’ve just added an extra layer of privacy to Android so that if you leave Chrome open, all incognito tabs will be locked behind user authentication.

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