How to always launch Chrome in incognito mode


I have mixed incognito mode with normal Chrome windows countless times. This is why I often have trouble launching Chrome in private browsing mode without blundering. It might just be me, but I think it’s mostly happening because of Chrome’s adoption of dark mode. The normal and incognito tabs now pretty much look the same, don’t they?

Launch Chrome incognito mode

However, I don’t want to give up dark mode in Chrome just because of this. This is why learning how to always launch Chrome in incognito mode can be so useful. This reduces the chances of forgetting to switch to incognito mode after you open the browser. But how do you do that?

If you’re willing to spend a few minutes, you can easily create a shortcut that lets you easily open Chrome in incognito mode. You can create it on Windows and macOS.

On Android and iOS, it’s even easier to launch Chrome in incognito mode if you know how to do it. So read on.

Google Chrome – Windows

Launching Chrome while still in incognito mode on Windows is pretty straightforward. You need to create a desktop shortcut by adding a simple command line to the default target file. You can also do this on the shortcut already in place on your desktop. Or you can duplicate the shortcut (using Copy and Paste) so that you have two shortcuts: one to launch Chrome in normal mode and one to always launch it in incognito mode.

To note: If you don’t have a Chrome shortcut on your desktop, open File Explorer, then navigate to Local Disk (C :)> Program Files (x86)> Google> Chrome> Application. In the Application folder, right-click the file titled “Chrome,” point to Send To, and then click Desktop.

Step 1: Right click on the Chrome shortcut on your desktop, then select Properties.

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 1

2nd step: Switch to the Shortcut tab in the Properties dialog box. Continue by adding a single space to the file path at the end of the Target field. Then insert the following command line:


The file path should then look like the one in the screenshot below. Click Apply, then click OK to save your changes.

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 2

Step 3: Double click on the shortcut and Chrome will always launch in incognito mode every time. In my case, I have two Chrome shortcuts on my desktop that allow me to open Chrome in normal mode or incognito mode. To avoid confusion, I renamed them appropriately.

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If you want to prevent the shortcut from launching in incognito mode, just remove the ‘–incognito’ command line from the Target field via Properties and save your changes.

Did you know: Private browsing or browsing in incognito mode does not hide your browsing activities or prevent others from spying on your browsing activities. Using a VPN service helps prevent this by hiding the physical location and IP address. We recommend ExpressVPN (sign up using this link and save 49% on an annual plan).

Google Chrome – macOS

Unlike Windows, you can’t change a Chrome shortcut on macOS to always launch the browser in incognito mode. Rather, you need to create a simple script for this purpose. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to do.

But there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, the script will not have a Chrome icon. Instead, it will look like exactly what it really is – a script. Second, the script won’t work if Chrome is already up and running. In such cases, you have to open the private browsing tabs manually.

Step 1: Open the AppleScript editor. Type Applescript editor in Spotlight (shortcut Cmd + Space), then press Enter to do so. In the window that appears, click New Document.

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2nd step: Copy and paste the script below into the AppleScript editor:

do shell script "open -a /Applications/Google --args --incognito"

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 5

Step 3: Open the File menu, then click Save.

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 6

Step 4: Type a name for the script (something identifiable), select a location to save the file (the desktop is most convenient), and select the file format as the application. Finally, click on Save.

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Step 5: Use the script whenever you want to launch Chrome in incognito mode.

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 8

You can also move it to the Dock and use it with the normal Chrome shortcut for convenience. However, you should not have normal Chrome windows running in the background when using the script.

Google Chrome – Android and iOS

To always open Chrome directly in incognito mode on Android, you don’t need to change shortcuts or create scripts from scratch. Instead, the Chrome icon already offers this feature. Just press and hold it for a second. After that, you should see a pop-up menu – tap on New Incognito Tab, and you are good to go.

Launch Chrome Incognito Mode 9

The same goes for Chrome on iOS. And you don’t need a device with 3D Touch either, since Haptic Touch rules start iOS 13. Long press the Chrome icon, then tap New incognito tab. You can do this on any iOS device (iPhone or iPad) that is running iOS 13.

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Advice: On iOS, the Chrome widget also offers a shortcut to open Chrome in incognito mode. Go to Today View (leftmost screen of Home), then tap Edit to activate the Chrome widget.

Last updated June 16, 2020

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