Mozilla added the private browsing feature to the Firefox web browser in version 3.5. It allows users of the browser to switch to that mode so that no browsing data, such as the history or cookies, get recorded by the browser or on the computer system.
Update: Mozilla changed how Firefox's private browsing mode functions in newer versions of the browser. You may now launch a private browsing window next to any existing (regular) Firefox window. The add-on reviewed below is therefore no longer required.
The organization implemented it in a different way compared to Google Chrome's Incognito Mode which makes it less usable. Unlike in Chrome, where you can open a new Incognito window next to an existing window, Firefox users need to agree to close all open windows and tabs first before a private browsing window can be spawned.While the data gets loaded again after you exit the private browsing session, it is not very comfortable.
This behavior is changed by the Firefox add-on Private Browsing Window which - as the name suggests - provides the means to launch a private browsing session in a new window without closing the standard session first.
The extension adds a Private Browsing Window link to the Firefox Tools menu and to the status bar of the browser. A click on the link or button launches a new Firefox window in private browsing mode without affecting other open instances of the browser.
The extension displays an add-on installation dialog upon first usage that tries to install the Private Browsing Window Helper extension. This extension is not required for the core functionality. It does however improve interaction between non-private and private windows. It specifically adds an option to open links in the non-private or private browsing windows.
Private Browsing Window makes it a lot easier to work with the private browsing mode in Firefox. The extension is available for Firefox 3.6 only and can be downloaded from the official Mozilla Firefox add-on gallery website.
Update: The Firefox add-on has been discontinued as it is not necessary anymore. The Private Browsing Mode can be launched via the Tools > Start Private Browsing menu or with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-p. It works just like in Chrome now which means that you can run a private browsing window side by side with a regular Firefox window.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.