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How to View Incognito Private Browsing Mode History



It’s hard enough to monitor our children, and web browser developers like Mozilla and Google have made it harder in recent years due to their “Private” or “Incognito” browsing modes. Here is a very comprehensive guide from Windows Guides about how to keep an eye on your children (even if they are using these “traceless” browsing modes).

Here’s how to check which Sites Have Been Visited in private or incognito browsing mode:

NOTE: If you have Windows XP, download Powershell 2.0 Here (Microsoft) first before doing any of this.

Incognito Mode in Google Chrome, Private Browsing in Firefox, and InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer are, in essence, the same. This feature restricts the information that browser stores while using the internet. What information are we talking about?

  • History: If you enter a web page, information about the site, title and URL, as well as when that page was entered is saved.
  • Cookies: Many sites need to track information about the user, for example a set of books on a library site. One way to achieve this is using this famous files, named cookies that store the information in user’s computer.
  • Cache: If you enter more than once on a website, the browser don’t need to download all components of that site every time. It’s clear that these programs need storage  and a way to organize the files.

If I am using my computer at home I don’t mind if this information is stored on my computer. But what happens if you are using a shared computer? Making you a spy is not the motivation behind this post; however, the idea is showing the limits of the implementations of this feature.

Today I am going to use a more simple technique than the one explained on the previous article, to know what pages have been visited. This technique works for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

As I am exploring PowerShell, I will show you two ways to do exactly the same.

Using the command line

When you enter on a website, you first tell the browser the name of the site you want to visit. To contact that website, the computer needs to find the IP associated with the website name; to do this, it uses a DNS server.

As you can read the process is very straightforward. As it’s not necessary to get this IP address every time, Windows uses a program (a DNS client) to store this information.

To test everything first we are going to clear entries in the DNS client:

Press WinKey + R, type cmd and press Enter to open a command line.

In the command line type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter:

Windows 7 Ipconfig FlushDNS1 Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

You can see the DNS resolver cache using ipconfig /displaydns:

Windows 7 Ipconfig Displaydns Empty1 Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)


Now we are going to open a Chrome window and go to mintywhite.com using Incognito mode. This is the private mode of Google Chrome. To open a window in this mode press Ctrl + Shift + N.

Chrome Incognito mintywhite Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

Can you imagine what happens if we close this window and check the DNS cache using ipconfig /displaydns?:

Cmd Ipconfig displaydns Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

As we can see Chrome doesn’t remove this information from the DNS cache.

Using a Script

PowerShell is my latest discovery so, why not use it to display this information in a more cool way?

The code

You have to copy this to a notepad file:

@echo off
Powershell -noexit "ipconfig /displaydns | select-string 'Record Name' | foreach-object { $_.ToString().Split(' ')[-1]   } | Sort | Out-Gridview"

You will see something like this:

notepad Powershell ipconfig script Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

As always go to File menu, click Save As…, and give the file a name i.e.“ShowDNSCache.bat”. (Include the quotes to save the file as a BAT file and not a TXT file.)

Save As ShowDNSCache Bat Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

Powershell OutGridView mintywhite Check which Sites Have Been Visited (Even if Private Browsing Mode is Used)

If you have Windows XP, download Powershell Here from Microsoft. It’s one of Microsoft’s few hidden gems.

 

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