What you can do if others want to access your computer

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 19, 2014

Privacy is probably the number one reason why you may not want others to access your computer. It does not really matter if you want to protect your browsing history, financial documents, photos that you have taken or a book you are writing on.

Sometimes, others may want to access your computer, for instance to look something up, do something of importance (that eBay auction is running for just a couple more minutes), or simply show you something.

If you hand over the keyboard or device as is, chance is that part of your browsing history or files on your computer are exposed to that user.

Browsers suggest sites based on the browsing history and bookmarks for example and it can happen that sites are revealed to the other person that you don't want revealed.

If you value your privacy, you may find the following suggestions useful instead:

1. Different account on the computer

user account

Probably the best option of them all is to have a different user profile ready for these cases. This can be a guest profile that you have created in the past that others can use if they need to use your computer. While it means that you have to switch to the profile whenever that happens, it is the only option that blocks full access to your own profile.

If you are using Windows do the following to add a new account:

  1. Tap in the Windows-key, type user account and select the matching result.
  2. Select Manage Another Account.
  3. Click on Create a new account.
  4. Type an account name, make sure it is set as a standard user and click on create account.
  5. Select the account after it has been created and select create a password to set a password for it.

2. Different web browser

Most of the time, it is a web browser that others want to use. You have a couple of options in this regard as well and one of the options is to use a different browser that you don't use normally.

If you have a browser available for situations like these, you can easily run it side by side with your main browser and let the guest use that browser for all Internet activities.

You can download a portable browser and use it side by side with the one you use by default. Most browsers, with the exception of Internet Explorer, are available as a portable versions as well. Pale Moon is available as a portable version for example.

3. Use the same browser

If you don't have another browser that others can use, you may still be able to provide them with a browser that cannot access your browsing data.

It is possible to start a private browsing window for example in all modern browsers. The window runs independent from the core browser which means that it does not have access to bookmarks or the browsing history.

Guests benefit from this as well as most data gets deleted automatically on exit.

Another possibility is to create a second browser profile for this situation. Chrome and Firefox support the functionality with Chrome even shipping with a guest browsing mode designed for situations like this.

4. Say No

You may not win a popularity contest but you could always say no instead of allowing another user access to your computer.

Now You: How do you handle this?

What you can do if others want to access your computer
Article Name
What you can do if others want to access your computer
A list of options that you have when someone else wants to access your computer.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

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