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The internet is filled with naked sweaty people doing naked sweaty things. It's also used by folks who like to look at them — but don't really want anyone else to know about it. While there's not much you can do to make sure nobody can see where you've been and what you clicked on, you can erase your tracks in case someone grabs your Chromebook and looks through the history.

We talked about how to cover your tracks on Android, and most of the same principles apply for your Chromebook. Your internet service provider is always going to be able to see your first connection (so using a VPN or Tor keeps the sites you visit private, but your ISP knows you're using a VPN or TOR through your Android phone) and the people sitting in the same room as you are going to be able to see what's on your screen.

Now that your dreams of being fully incognito on the internet are ruined, let's talk about how to cover your tracks locally when you're using your Chromebook.

More: Hide your porn browsing habits on Android

User accounts and passwords

Require a password at all times

You can use a Chromebook as a guest user, but that means you're not going to be able to install extensions from the Chrome Web Store. You can sideload an unpacked extension and make it work, but there's an easier way — anyone who might want or need to use your Chromebook can have their own local account.

You can also make a separate account as a sandbox and sign into it whenever you need it.

This works great for your partner or roommate. Not only do they have quick access to the web when they need it, but they can personalize their experience. Anything they download or install is going to take up some space, but they won't be able to access your account data or your stuff at all. And you won't be able to see theirs — privacy works both ways. To add a user, when you're on the login screen click the Add person link at the bottom of the page.

The next step is to make sure you need a password when you wake up your Chromebook. Open the Settings and scroll down to the People section, and you'll see a checkbox to require a password to wake from sleep. When your Chromebook times out, or if you shut the lid, you have to type your password to do anything but look at your account picture.

Install some extensions

Extensions

You can't install a desktop a browser with "better" privacy settings on your Chromebook. But you do have some options. You could install Firefox or any other browser from Google Play if your Chromebook supports Android apps, but you're "stuck" in the mobile view so some features you want in a browser aren't going to work. There's also an issue with sizing the window on some Android browsers. It's certainly worth trying to see if you are OK with the way it works.

Android apps give you another option if your Chromebook supports them.

If you want to keep the desktop interface you're used to, you can install some extensions to keep things as anonymous as possible. We're focused on scrubbing your local history in this article, but it's not unheard of for scripts and ads — especially the scummy ads that seem to always be present on porn sites — to do things like blocking your screen with pop-ups until you click something you shouldn't or to try and use your IP address to "remember" you the next time you visit.

Advertisements, cookies and other forms of user profiling can be useful and beneficial to both the user (that's us) and the provider but the sheer abundance of crapware and malware that is drawn to porn sites means you should never visit one without a way to try and stay safe.

I can recommend these extensions from the Chrome Web Store:

  • Ghostery — Ghostery does a great job of blocking trackers that want to know where you are, what site you came from and what sites you're going to next. They track you, which is why they are called trackers.

  • Privacy Badger — This is another extension that blocks trackers from the EFF. It's an alternative to Ghostery, but the interface is a bit more detailed and can be confusing. You don't need to use Ghostery and Privacy Badger at the same time, but you can.

  • An ad blocker. The one you choose here will make a difference on a lot of other websites, too, because the same types of scripts used for ads (and blocked by your ad blocker) are also used for things like blog comments, social sharing buttons, and other page elements. Adblock Plus will block most ads and the default white/blacklists are mostly updated to allow things like blog comments to work. But Adblock plus eats a lot of memory and as mentioned, will let some ads get through. uBlock Origin is also an ad blocker that people love, but it's more aggressive. That means it blocks more of the shady stuff but can also block good things that need a script. It does a much better job managing system resources and you'll notice the difference when you have enough tabs open.

    • Whatever your choice, make sure you use an ad blocker. It's also helpful to read how to whitelist the things you want to see, which is usually as easy as adding a URL to a text file.
  • Speaking of scripts: Script Blocker — Blocks JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other plug-ins by way of a whitelist/blacklist. You might need to allow Flash or scripts to see your porn — if that happens, find a new porn site. Don't let scripts and plug-ins run as they please. Script Blocker is a great tool if you don't mind taking the time to set up your own whitelist, but know that if you block every script the web looks pretty bad and not very interactive.

Extensions are able to store data when you allow them in Incognito mode. I feel good about recommending these and am confident that they aren't going to expose you or your habits. These extensions need to run in Incognito mode. See the link below if you need help setting that up. Don't worry, it's easy.

How to allow extensions in Incognito mode on your Chromebook

Incognito mode

incognito mode

I've mentioned it enough times that you knew this was coming. Always use incognito mode (in tandem with some extensions to help control what the internet can do to you) when you are doing something you don't want to be associated with your Google account.

Incognito mode doesn't make you invisible; it just dissociates you and your web history from your Google account.

Open the browser app on your Chromebook, and click the three dots in the upper right to open a menu. You'll see a listing that says open a new Incognito window. Click it. When it opens, go back and close the original window to be extra sure and paranoid like I am.

You can also open an Incognito window directly from the desktop by pressing Control+Shift+N, but I usually forget which keys to press so I use the menu. Whichever way you do it, just do it.

Remember, that anything you download gets saved where anyone can see it, and any site you bookmark will get mixed in with your regular bookmarks (and saved to the cloud) so don't do either.


This isn't going to make you invisible on the internet. That's impossible. But it will cover your tracks if someone else gets to snooping around at what's saved in your Chromebook's history. Stay safe.

Also, It's OK to want to keep some things private but never forget to communicate with your loved ones. I'm a little past looking at porn on the internet, but when I do have a look at naked Twister activities I do it with my wife. It's a lot more fun that way, and it's easier than trying to keep secrets.

Update January 2018: Updated with the best current extensions to help keep your privacy intact!