How to Enable Chrome Safe Mode to Enhance Your Digital Privacy

While Safe mode is mostly used to fix performance issues in the Chrome browser, it’s also a great way to boost your online privacy. Luckily, it’s not difficult to set up.

We’ll show you exactly how to enable Safe mode with setup guides for different devices, plus share tips on making your Chrome browser even more secure. Let’s keep your digital footprint light and make sure Chrome works for you (and not the other way around). 

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What Is Chrome Safe Mode?

Safe mode isn’t an official feature in Chrome – rather, it’s a state where all extensions are disabled. There are multiple ways to enable Safe mode, but the easiest is to open Chrome’s Incognito mode.

When you enter Safe mode through Incognito mode, Chrome turns off all extensions and stops recording your online activity in its browsing history. In addition, all your session data (like cookies) will be deleted once you close the browser.

However, Safe mode doesn’t mean you’re browsing anonymously. Your device’s IP address and browsing habits are still visible to third parties, including your ISP, government, and web trackers.  

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The Difference between Chrome Incognito and Safe Mode

Incognito mode is a privacy feature that stops Chrome from saving your browsing history, cookies, or site data on your device. Essentially, it saves you from manually clearing your browsing history, cache, and cookies yourself. As soon as you exit Incognito mode, you don’t need to worry about anyone else seeing your online activity. 

In contrast, Safe mode is when you run the Chrome browser with all extensions disabled. It’s primarily used to troubleshoot performance issues – for example, if Chrome is regularly crashing or freezing. 

Many people use the terms Incognito mode and Safe mode interchangeably. This can be confusing, but it’s simply because Incognito mode is the easiest way to enable Safe mode.

Note: Don’t confuse Chrome Safe mode with Safe Browsing or SafeSearch! 

Safe Browsing is a Chrome feature that prevents you from accessing potentially malicious websites, including phishing links, malware, and other harmful files. SafeSearch is another Chrome feature that filters explicit content from your search results. 

How to Enable Safe Mode on Google Chrome

There are three main ways to enable Safe mode in the Chrome browser: 

  1. Browse in Incognito mode. This automatically disables all extensions. Plus, it stops the browser from saving your browsing activity and cookies. 
  2. Disable all extensions manually. Use Chrome’s settings to turn off any or all of your extensions.
  3. Reset Chrome settings. This restores your browser to its default settings, which means any installed extensions will be removed. 

By far, the easiest option is to use Chrome’s Incognito mode. 

Turn On Chrome Safe Mode on Windows

There are two ways to use Incognito mode on Windows. The first method is to launch the regular Chrome browser and enter the shortcut: Ctrl + Shift +N. This launches a new browser window in Incognito mode. You can close the regular browser window afterward. 

The second option is to set up your Chrome icon on the desktop, so it automatically opens in Incognito mode. Here’s how to do it. 

  1. Right-click the Chrome icon on your desktop and click Properties.
  1. Go into the Shortcut tab and find the Target section. In the line next to it, type  -incognito at the very end of the command. Remember to add a space before you start typing or it won’t work.
  1. Click Apply and then OK. Your PC might ask you to run the new changes as an administrator. If a new window pops up, just click the Continue button.

Enable Chrome Safe Mode on MacOS  

To automatically open a new Safe mode window, enter this Chrome Incognito mode shortcut: Command + Shift + N

Alternatively, you can open Chrome’s Incognito mode using the Script Editor. 

  1. Open the Script Editor. To do so, enter Spotlight Search by pressing the keys Command + Space. Type Script Editor in the search bar and then press the Return button.
  1. Create a new document and type in the following command: do shell script “open -a ‘Google Chrome’ –new –args –incognito
  1. Compile the new script. Go into Script > Compile, or press the hammer button in the top-right corner of the window.
  1. Click the play icon to run the new script. This will automatically open a new Chrome Incognito window. 
  1. Save the script in your files. Next time you want to open Chrome in Incognito mode, simply run it again (no need to compile a new script).

Activate Chrome Safe Mode on Android

Open the Chrome app on your phone. Then, tap the three dots in the top-right corner and press New Incognito Window

Enable Chrome Safe Mode on iPhone

Open your Chrome app and press the three dots in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Next, tap on New Incognito Window. This will open a new tab in Safe mode. 

Why Should I Enable Chrome Safe Mode?

There are many reasons why you should use Chrome Safe mode (namely, Incognito mode): 

  • 📈Performance fix – If your Chrome browser is regularly crashing or freezing, Safe mode will disable all the extensions. This can solve problems caused by corrupt or unstable extensions. 
    🤫Privacy protection – Incognito mode ensures none of your browsing history, cookies, site information, or entered data will be saved in the browser. This minimizes how your activity is tracked by third-party websites. 
    🔒Session isolation – Incognito mode temporarily isolates your new session, which stops websites from using cookies from your main browsing window. This can be useful if you want to log into the same website with multiple accounts simultaneously.
    🧼Clean slate browsing – Each Incognito session starts with a clean slate, which can help troubleshoot issues related to cookies or cache (without clearing your entire browsing history). 
    💸Price comparison – Some websites show you different prices based on your browsing history. Incognito mode can help you avoid price discrimination by preventing websites from accessing your cookies and previous activity.
    💻Content access – Browsing in Incognito mode can sometimes help you access more content, like news articles (even if you’ve reached the daily limit). This is because Incognito mode clears your cookies, so websites can’t track your visits. 

Chrome’s Incognito mode won’t keep your browsing hidden from your ISP or the sites you visit. Increase your digital privacy with CyberGhost’s Chrome VPN extension. We’ll cloak your real IP address and encrypt your in-browser traffic, providing those essential extra layers of protection.    

How to Use Extensions with Google Chrome Safe Mode

You can still use extensions, even when you’re in Safe mode (via Incognito mode). 

  1. Open Chrome’s options by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner. Choose Extensions and go into Manage Extensions.
  1. This will open all of your installed extensions. Each extension comes with its own set of permissions. Click Details under an extension you’d like to enable in Safe mode.
  1. Find Allow in Incognito and toggle it on. This will enable the extension next time you open Chrome in Incognito mode. 

How Do I Change Google Chrome Search Settings?

Launch Chrome, navigate to Settings and then Privacy and security. You can then: 

    • Clear your browsing history, cookies, and cache. This makes it more difficult for websites to track your activities. It also reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts, especially if someone else gains access to your device. 
    • Block third-party cookies. Disabling cookies restricts the amount of data collected about you without your direct consent.
    • Adjust your Safe Browsing options. By default, Chrome enables standard protection, but you can make it tougher with enhanced security, enabled HTTPS protocols, and specifying DNS providers.
    • Review site permissions. This determines whether websites can access your location, camera, images, notifications, pop-ups, and more. Revoking these will protect as much of your data as possible, stopping third parties from combing through your details.

How Do I Make Chrome Safe?

While Chrome isn’t inherently dangerous, it’s not the most privacy-focused browser either. It collects and tracks your data, and sometimes even shares it with third parties. However, with the right approach and precautions, you can improve your safety when using Chrome.

    • Update Chrome regularly. New releases often include patches for vulnerabilities, speed and efficiency improvements, and the latest features. 
    • Protect your Google account with a strong password. This is especially important since Chrome can sync your bookmarks, history, and passwords across devices.
    • Install only trusted extensions.  Some extensions may slow down your computer or compromise your privacy by harvesting private information. Stick to those available on the Chrome Web Store, but even then, look at ratings and active user counts.
    • Review your privacy and security settings. We recommend turning on Safe Browsing and reviewing site permissions. 
    • Activate Google Play Protect. This Android-only feature scans your apps to check for anything harmful or suspicious. 
    • Get a VPN. A VPN will encrypt your entire internet connection (not just your Chrome browser traffic), preventing any snoops from intercepting your data. A quality VPN will also include a kill switch, leak protection, and other advanced security features. 

Secure Your Online Privacy Beyond Chrome Safe Mode

Safe mode offers an easy way to troubleshoot any Chrome performance issues and ensure your online activity remains your own business. While it doesn’t offer complete anonymity, it’s a solid first step toward maintaining your digital privacy. 

Maximize your digital security with CyberGhost’s Chrome VPN extension. It encrypts your browser traffic and masks your IP address, allowing you to browse the web with added privacy. Stay protected from online snoops, even on public Wi-Fi networks.


How do I open Chrome in Safe mode?

Chrome Safe mode is a state where all extensions are disabled. The easiest way to open Chrome in Safe mode is to launch the browser in Incognito mode. This will automatically disable all extensions. If you’re on a Windows PC or Mac, click Ctrl/Command + Shift + N. On mobile devices, tap the three dots in the top or bottom-right corner and click New Incognito tab

How do I turn off Safe mode on Chrome?

You can disable Safe mode by exiting the Chrome browser. When you reopen Chrome again, it will automatically launch in regular browsing mode.

Will Chrome Safe mode fix issues with my browser?

It depends on the problem. Chrome Safe mode disables all extensions, which can help the browser run smoother. This stripped-down version can also identify if extensions are causing any problems. However, if Chrome is still unresponsive, slow, or crashing, you may have to delete all cookies/cache and reinstall the app. 

Should I use Safe Browsing in Chrome? 

Yes, it’s a good idea. When you use Safe Browsing in Chrome, you’ll be warned whenever you encounter potentially malicious websites, including phishing links, malware, and other harmful files. 

Is it better to have SafeSearch on or off?

Leave SafeSearch on, especially if children have access to your device or you’re in a public or work environment. This feature filters explicit content like nudity or violence from Google search results. However, it only affects Google search – if you use another search engine, SafeSearch won’t block unwanted content.

What happens if I go Incognito on Google Chrome? 

In Incognito mode, your browsing history, cookies, and site data aren’t saved. This means other people using the device later won’t see what you did online. It also disables Chrome extensions, which stops extensions from tracking your activity. 

How do I permanently open Chrome in Incognito mode?

On Windows, right-click Chrome, go into Properties, and add  -incognito at the end of the target name. On Mac, create a new script and use it to open Chrome in Safe mode every time. On Android and iOS, open the Chrome app and manually open a new tab in Incognito mode. 

Does Chrome Incognito mode still track you?

Incognito mode doesn’t actively track you, but it doesn’t make you invisible either. Websites, your employer, and your ISP can still track your activity, including your IP address and the platforms you visit. 

What are the disadvantages of Chrome Incognito mode?

Incognito provides some privacy, but it falls short in terms of security. The lack of encryption leaves your device vulnerable to cyberattacks and data leaks, especially on public Wi-Fi. Since Incognito mode doesn’t retain cookies or cache, you also have to repeatedly log into your accounts. Some web pages may even load more slowly. This can be annoying if you want to access personalized content or services quickly. 

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