My hack use for Chrome's Incognito mode

November 22, 2013

These days I have a script that starts Chrome in Incognito mode (or at least opens another window if Chrome is already running, which I am starting to arrange). It looks like this:

exec google-chrome --incognito --new-window "$@"

(Note that --new-window is an undocumented option and thus may change someday.)

I don't do this because I like Chrome or because I need anonymity that often (and anyways my testing Firefox is about as equally anonymous). I do this because Chrome has an extremely valuable option for Incognito mode: you can turn off specific extensions if you want to (more exactly you have to enable extensions to run in Incognito mode). I use this to turn off NotScripts and FlashBlock and all of the other Chrome extensions that protect me from the unfiltered Internet in its natural crud-infested state.

In other words, Chrome's Incognito mode has become my 'just make this stuff work, I don't care any more' browser (especially as Chrome integrates its own supported version of Flash so I don't have to worry about that part either). And just like my testing Firefox, I don't have to worry very much about being contaminated by cookies and whatnot because Chrome throws them all away afterwards.

(Note that Chrome only discards cookies et al from your Incognito windows when all of them have been closed. If you keep one around for some reason, perhaps because it is running some important internal app for you, those cookies will live on for the duration.)

I would prefer to do this in Firefox and in theory I could do it with another profile for my testing Firefox (one that didn't have the relevant extensions installed). However I've never gotten alternate profiles to work very well in Firefox and I'd still have the Flash issues. In the mean time Chrome Incognito is convenient for this.

(I've even modified my custom environment so that I can dump an URL into 'ichrome' as easily as I can into my regular Firefox session. It's a bit sad that I use it (or need to use it) that often, but I do and it is oh so convenient.)

PS: writing this up was inspired by this tweet by @saintaardvark, which led to me discovering that I'm not alone in using Chrome Incognito for this.

Written on 22 November 2013.
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Last modified: Fri Nov 22 01:24:22 2013
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