Android: How to hide Chrome incognito tabs with your fingerprint

Android: How to hide Chrome incognito tabs with your fingerprint

Chrome for Android allows users to hide their private browsing tabs behind an authentication screen (fingerprint or PIN). Here’s how to set it up.

Google has added a feature to Chrome for Android that allows users to keep tabs open in private browsing (or Incognito) mode hidden unless unlocked via fingerprint.

This feature is similar to the “Privacy Screen” option found in iOS versions of Google apps like Google Authenticator, Drive, Fi, and Google. However, Chrome’s incognito tab lock works slightly differently than Google’s iOS apps’ Privacy Screen.

The Android version of Chrome allows you to authenticate via your fingerprint or via a PIN code, while iOS users can also use facial recognition to make their Incognito tabs visible. The iOS Privacy Screen is also a standard feature, while Android users have to do a few things to use it, at least for now.

This Incognito tab lock will eventually be available to all Android users in a future version of Chrome, but for now it’s only accessible through a hidden feature. Unlike some unpublished functions, you can try it in the stable version of Chrome if you have version 105 installed.

To activate this still experimental function:

  1. Open Chrome on your Android device.
  2. Enter “chrome://flags/#incognito-reauthentication-for-android” in the address bar and go to the page.
  3. Select “Enabled” from the drop-down menu under “Enable device reauthenticate for Incognito.
  4. Tap on “Relaunch” when the action appears. The function is now activated.

Once Chrome has restarted, you need to enable the feature in app settings:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy & Security.
  2. Enable “Lock incognito tabs when you close Chrome (Use screen lock to see open incognito tabs)”.
  3. Finally, verify your fingerprint or PIN when asked to activate the feature.

You won’t have to enable the feature once it’s made available in the consumer version, but for now, that’s the way to go.

The next time you close Chrome with incognito tabs open, your session will be “locked”. Upon reopening Chrome, the browser will hide these tabs through a reauthentication screen.

Tap “Unlock Private Browsing”, use your fingerprint or enter your PIN to unlock your tabs. Only your tabs in incognito mode are affected; your “normal” tabs remain visible without additional manipulation.

Rachel Maga
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life's biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.