How to Completely Disable Private Browsing in iOS on iPhone and iPad

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Disable Private Browsing in iOS Completely

Have you ever wished you could disable Private Browsing mode in Safari for iOS? Using Private Browsing mode in Safari on iPhone and iPad is simple and you can toggle in and out of it at ease at any time. But what if you don’t want Private Browsing mode to be available at all? What if you want to completely remove the Private Browsing feature in iOS so that it’s impossible to use and not merely an option in Safari? That is what this tutorial will show you; how to completely disable Private Browsing in iOS.

Let’s clarify what we’re talking about here; this is not simply turning off private browsing on a session basis, this is intended to completely disable Private Browsing as a feature so it can not be used at all on an iPhone or iPad. For the sake of being thorough however, we’ll cover both. First we’ll address how to simply turn off a Private Browsing session in iOS, and then we will show you how to disable the feature entirely.

Turning Off Private Browsing in iOS

If for whatever reason you want to just toggle Private Browsing off and leave it for a particular browsing session, rather than completely disable the feature, here’s what you do:

  1. Open Safari then tap the Tabs button (it looks like two overlapping squares in the corner)
  2. Tap on “Private” so that it is no longer highlighted to exit Private Browsing mode in iOS

With Private mode off, Safari will track cookies, history, and store cache data from websites that are visited as usual – normal behavior for any web browser. Remember, you can always delete caches, web data, and cookies from Safari in iOS separately and after the fact if need be.

But toggling in and out of Private Browsing mode is not the purpose of this article. We’re here to talk about disabling the feature entirely so that it’s not even possible to toggle on in the first place.

How to Disable Private Browsing Mode Completely on iPhone and iPad

If you want to make sure that Private Browsing Mode is completely inaccessible and unusable, you can completely disable the feature by enabling Safari Restrictions. Here’s how this works:

  1. Open the “Settings” app in iOS
  2. iOS settings icon

  3. Go to “General” and then to “Restrictions”
  4. Choose to Enable Restrictions and enter a passcode – do not forget this Restriction passcode!
  5. Enable Restrictions

  6. Now scroll down to find “Websites” and choose “Limit Adult Content” to enable a web filter in Safari, this has the side effect of completely disabling Private Browsing mode in Safari for iOS and it completely removes the Private button in Safari tabs view
  7. Disable Private Browsing mode completely in iOS

  8. Open Safari to confirm the change if desired

You will notice the Private button is just completely missing from the Tab overview of Safari. This means nobody will be able to use Private Browsing Mode at all, the feature is just disabled as part of the Restrictions for websites.

Private Browsing mode is disabled and not available in Safari for iOS

Compared to the default Safari state where entering Private mode is optional through the button that is now missing on the iPhone or iPad:

Private Browsing mode disabled in iOS before and after

Of course a side effect of this is that an adult content filter is also enabled, so whether or not that is important to you is going to depend on the situation. For most employers, parents, educators, and similar professions, limiting adult content is probably a desired outcome anyway, so there may not be a downside to this approach that could exist in a different home setting.

If you’ve come this far and you’re confused, then perhaps you’d like some background; Private Browsing mode in Safari allows you to visit websites and search the web without leaving cache, history, or cookies locally on the iPhone or iPad from those websites that were visited. Private Browsing mode is widely used for many reasons, but as the name implies it’s typically when a user wants a particular web browsing session to be private. Note that “private” is not the same as “anonymous”, as private browsing is not anonymous whatsoever, it just doesn’t store cookies or web data on the device, whereas a truly anonymous browsing session would leave no trace on the end-user machine as well as obscure the origin of the web browsing session, something that typically requires either a respected privacy-centric VPN setup or something like using TOR via OnionBrowser for iOS which anonymizes and obfuscates web traffic.

Do you have any other tips, thoughts, or tricks about disabling Private Browsing or similar features in iOS? Share them in the comments below!

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