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How to Disable Private Browsing Mode in Safari on iPhone

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Apple allows iOS users to take advantage of anonymous browsing by using Private tabs on Safari on iOS. When you use Private Browsing Mode, the Safari app won’t store the addresses of websites you visit, save your search history, or recall your Autofill info. 

If you’re someone who uses the Private Browsing Mode on Safari a lot, you may have realized that this mode doesn’t exactly behave like on other browsers. In this post, we’ll explain what happens when you close Safari with Private Browsing Mode enabled and how can you disable it inside Safari. 

What happens when you close Safari with ‘Private’ tabs open?

Unlike other browser apps like Chrome or Brave, Safari doesn’t entirely close your ‘Private’ tabs when you terminate the app on iOS. This means, when you close the Safari app by swiping it from the Recent Apps screen, the ‘Private’ tabs that were open before closing the app will re-appear when you launch Safari on your iPhone again. 

This may lead you into embarrassing situations for when you may have forgotten to switch away from Private mode in your last browsing session as re-opening Safari again loads up all the web pages you may have opened as private tabs. 

In contrast, when you close the Chrome or Brave app during private browsing, all private tabs will be closed forever and there will be no way to get them back. This way, your private browsing sessions will remain private and anonymous, even when you fail to close the tabs that may have been open. 

Sadly though, there’s no such functionality for Safari on iOS. So, the only real way to avoid any future humiliation is to disable private browsing manually every time you’re done browsing the web on Safari anonymously.

Related: 30 less known iOS 15 tricks you should know

How to Disable Private Browsing Mode on Safari

Since Safari doesn’t close private tabs on its own on iOS, you can disable Private Browsing Mode on the app by switching from private tabs to your regular active ones. This can be done in two ways – by switching to open tabs inside Tab Groups or by using shortcuts within Safari’s Tab Bar at the bottom. 

Method #1: From Tab Groups

To disable Private Browsing Mode on Safari using Tab Groups, tap on the Tabs icon at the bottom right corner. 

When the Tab overview screen appears, tap on the Private section at the bottom. 

You will now see Tab Groups pop up from the bottom. Here, select the ‘x’ Tabs just above the ‘Private’ group. ‘x’ is the number of tabs that may be open from your previous active session. 

You will now switch to the non-private tabs that were active before you switched to private browsing on Safari. When you do that, Private Browsing Mode will be disabled.

Method #2: From Tab Bar

Another quick way to disable Private Browsing Mode is by switching to a non-private tab from within a Tab Bar. For this, tap and hold on the Tabs icon at the bottom right corner. 

In the overflow menu that appears, select ‘x’ Tabs where ‘x’ is the number of tabs that may currently be open in your non-private browsing session. 

When you do that, Safari will disable the Private Browsing Mode and show the last accessed non-private tab that you used. 

Related: How to Go to Private Browser on iPhone

How to quickly close Private tabs on Safari

Contrary to what you may expect, disabling the Private Browsing Mode on Safari doesn’t necessarily close the tabs that were open inside it. When you switch from a normal tab back to ‘private’ ones, all the tabs that were loaded previously in the Private Browsing Mode will reload on the screen again. This may put you in awkward situations as re-opening Private Browsing Mode after several days may result in all of those tabs opening up that you may have left open previously. 

To make sure your private tabs are no longer accessible for anyone in the future, it’s thus important that you close all your private tabs. For this, make sure you’re currently in Private Browsing Mode inside Safari and then tap and hold on the Tabs icon at the bottom right corner.

In the overflow menu that appears, select Close All ‘x’ Tabs

You’ll now see a prompt appear on the screen asking you if you wish to proceed with the selected action. Here, tap on Close All ‘x’ Tabs.

All tabs that were open privately on Safari will be removed and you’ll only see the Start Page appear on the screen.

You may still have to disable Private Browsing Mode from here yourself but you can rest assured that none of your open private tabs will appear again. 

That’s all you need to know about disabling Private Browsing Mode on Safari on an iPhone.


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