Is There a Way to See If Someone Has Used Private Browsing?

Updated July 20, 2017

A popular addition to web browsers is private browsing. Sometimes referred to as "incognito mode" or even "porn mode," there are many legitimate uses for a user to use this tool. The idea behind this utility is to allow a user to connect to the Internet without leaving any traces of their session on the computer. While browsers make a strong effort to conceal whether or not private browsing has been utilised, one of the aspects it does not protect against are "flash cookies."

Browse to the user's flash cookie storage folder on the computer. On a Windows machine, open "My Computer" and navigate to the "%appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player#SharedObjects" folder. On a Macintosh, open Finder, click the username on the left side and go to "Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects."

Select a folder within your desired date range according to the "Date modified" field and open it by double clicking on it.

Read the names of the folders in this directory. Notice all these folders are web domains. A user on this computer visited each domain in this directory, even if the user was using private browsing mode.

Remove any folders you want hidden or belonging to any websites you don't want tracking your browsing habits.


You can also use the Adobe Flash Storage Settings panel listed in the resources below to delete all sites and change settings to block future flash cookies. To view the contents of Flash cookies, check out the FlashCookiesView software listed in the Resources section.


Any time you remove files or change settings to your computer can have unexpected results. Back up any important files before making abrupt changes to your computer and only make changes to computers to which you have authorised access.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
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About the Author

Chris Gouker has been writing since 1998, first publishing as a bi-monthly columnist for his hometown newspaper, "The Evening Sun" in Hanover, PA. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Virginia Tech and is currently studying screenwriting at Watkins Film School in Nashville, TN.