Controlling iPad's Private Mode

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"I'm on my iPad, and suddenly, the site is asking me to log in and it doesn't know who I am. And the games I seem to be acting differently. What's wrong?"

This is a common call for help that I receive from iPad users. What's happened is that you've activated Private Browsing, possibly without realizing it.

When you're in Private mode, the log-in cookie with your member name and password can't be read, and new information can't be saved, either. Here's how to tell if your iPad is in Private mode, and how to get things back to normal.

Normal Mode

This is what Games4TV on my iPad normally looks like. Yours looks similar when you're logged in.

Private Mode

And this is what the same page looks like in Private mode.

You'll notice right away that it didn't recognize me and log me in -- it's waiting for my user name and password. But there's something else different, too. Can you spot it?

This picture of the tabs at the top shows you the difference.

When you're in normal mode, the tabs and address bar along the top of the screen are white and light gray, with black and dark gray type. But when you're in Private mode, the tabs and address bar are black, with white or gray type.

How to Get In and Out of Private Mode

If you're using iOS 7 (iPad2 or later), all you have to do is touch the address bar at the top of the browser. This will bring up the on-screen keyboard. You'll see the Private button on the top left of the keyboard. It will be blue with white type when you're in Private mode. Just touch it to switch.

If you have tabs open, you'll get a pop-up asking if you want to keep them or close them. If you got into Private Mode accidentally, and aren't trying to remain incognito on purpose, go ahead and keep them.

If you're on an original iPad running an earlier version than iOS 7, you'll find the Private setting in the Safari settings in your Settings screens. Touch the Settings icon on your iPad home screen to enter the Settings area, then look down the side menu for Safari and touch it for the Safari-specific settings, including Private.

Why is there a Private Mode?

All the modern browsers have this mode, although they call it different things ("inPrivate," "Incognito," "Anonymous"). It's useful for developers, and I use it when I have to log in as someone else without getting my settings confused. It can be more effective than "do not track" settings if you want to go somewhere and not leave a trail, or have the website appear in your browser's history.

But mostly, it gets iPad users confused, LOL! And now you know how to fix it.

Questions? Post them below. If you don't see the comment form, click the link to log in. If you have, but you still don't see it, go back to Games4TV and activate your Talk4TV membership. It's free for all active Games4TV members and it will let you post questions and comments here, and participate in the forums and challenge games in Talk4TV.

And if you need some First Aid, let me know by email and we'll see if we can help.


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Update for iOS 8

Update for iOS 8

The images above show where the Private Mode control is on iOS 6 and iOS 7. If you are on iOS 8, press the double square icon at the top of the browser (to the right of the address bar on the iPad, on the bottom right on the iPhone) and you will see the Private link at the bottom. The black tabs at the top still tell you when you're in Private Mode.