Install a Private Browser for Android

Edited by Jay, Maria

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Most mobile Android browsers allow users to surf the web without storing any additional data such as cookies, history, and cached files. In Google Chrome, for example, one needs only switch to incognito mode to accomplish the above. However, this will not stop websites from tracking information about your device, browsing habits, analytics, or even search queries entered into your favorite search engines.

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To block sites from tracking your such information we need to install a private browser. In this article, we will cover two of the more reliable private browsers available for Android-powered devices; Firefox Focus and Ghostery Private Browser. It should also be noted that both of these browsers have ad blocking capabilities as well.

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For this article, we installed both Firefox Focus and Ghostery on a Google Pixel running Android Oreo 8.0.

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Firefox Focus

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  1. 1
    Access your app drawer and launch the Play Store app.
    Ff-focus-01.png
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  2. 2
    Once in the Play Store, type "firefox focus" into the search box and tap it when the results populate.
    Ff-focus-02.png
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  3. 3
    On the app's info screen, tap "INSTALL"
    .
    Once the application is installed, tap "OPEN".
    Ff-focus-03.png
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  4. 4
    With the app open, navigate to a website of your choice
    .
    Once the page loads, tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner to view how many trackers were blocked.
    Ff-focus-04.png
    From the same menu box, you can also access settings, refresh and share the page, add the site to your home screen, and open the site in another browser installed on your device.
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  5. 5
    To open a link in a new tab, share or copy a link, tap and hold the link until the following window opens.
    Ff-focus-05.png
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  6. 6
    To switch between or close open tabs, tap the circle in the lower left corner
    .
    The number inside the circle will represent how many tabs are open.
    Ff-focus-06.png
    You can also erase your browsing data by tapping the bottom button in the same window.
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  7. 7
    If you happen to be browsing a single tab only, tap the trash can icon to erase your browsing data.
    Ff-focus-07.png
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  8. 8
    To access your browser settings, tap the three-dot menu in the top right corner, followed by "Settings".
    Ff-focus-08.png
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  9. 9
    Inside settings, there are various options with toggle switches to enable/disable
    .
    The important ones to note are the options under the privacy section.
    Ff-focus-09.png
    Adjust the browser settings to suit your preferences.
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  10. 10
    While in settings you can change the default search engine by tapping, "Search" at the top, then select your preferred search service.
    Ff-focus-10.png
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  11. 11
    You have the option to clear your browsing data directly from your notification panel as well
    .
    Swipe down from the upper edge of your device, then tap "ERASE AND OPEN".
    Ff-focus-11.png
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Ghostery Private Browser

Ghostery-heading.png
  1. 1
    Open up your app drawer and tap the Play Store shortcut.
    Ghostery-01.png
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  2. 2
    Once the Play Store is launched, search for, "ghostery"
    .
    Tap the first result in the list once it populates.
    Ghostery-02.png
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  3. 3
    From Ghostery's app page, tap "INSTALL"
    .
    Once Ghostery has completed the installation process, tap "OPEN".
    Ghostery-03.png
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  4. 4
    The first screen we see when we open the app talks about how your information is used within the app
    .
    To get additional information tap "IN-APP PRIVACY".
    Ghostery-04.png
    To continue, tap "GOT IT".
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  5. 5
    The next couple screens allow you to enable Ghostrank, which sends anonymous data back to the developers to help improve the app
    .
    The second screen allows you to enable Blocking.
    Ghostery-05.png
    Toggle the switch above each option to enable it. You can also edit these options from within settings.
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  6. 6
    With Ghostery open, navigate to a website you frequent often
    .
    Once the page fully loads, you'll see a number inside the little ghost icon in the upper right corner of the browser.
    Ghostery-06.png
    Tap the ghost icon to see which trackers can be blocked. Toggle the switch next to the tracker to block it, and tap the checkmark to remember the page specific preference. Remember to tap "reload" at the bottom to save your changes.
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  7. 7
    To open new tabs, tap the tab icon to the left of the ghost icon
    .
    On the Tabs screen, tap the "+" symbol to open a new tab.
    Ghostery-07.png
    This is where you can switch between your open tabs also.
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  8. 8
    To access Ghostery's settings, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner, then tap the gear icon to the far right.
    Ghostery-08.png
    From the same window, you can; Open a new tab, Open a Ghost mode tab, Add the page to your home screen, access bookmarks and history, and request the desktop version of the site.
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  9. 9
    On the My Settings screen General tab, there are various options with toggle switches to enable or disable them
    .
    Pay careful attention to the Privacy Settings and Advanced sections.
    Ghostery-09.png
    Any option with a blue arrow will open another window with editable settings.
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  10. 10
    Tap the Ghostery tab to enable/disable the browser's Tracking and Blocking Options.
    Ghostery-10.png
    Tap the blue arrow to block or allow everything.
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  11. 11
    To browse in Ghost Mode, tap the three-dot menu, followed by "Open a Ghost Mode Tab".
    Ghostery-11.png
    At the time of writing this article, Ghost Mode was still in beta.
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  12. 12
    Once in Ghost Mode things like history and cookies will not be used or stored
    .
    Also, any other data collected will be cleared once the Ghost Mode tab is closed.
    Ghostery-12.png
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Remember that blocking all trackers can sometimes hinder your browsing experience because some are directly tied to essential functions on the page.
  • You may need to play around with your settings a bit to get the right balance between functionality and privacy, depending on what sites you visit. Both apps allow setting preferences for individual pages, so you don't have to edit those settings each time.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Software | Use Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Recent edits by: Jay

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