How to Start Portable Browsers in Private or Incognito Mode by Default


In a previous post I wrote about the advantages of portable software. Today I want to focus in on portable browsers.

Everybody uses at least one or two browsers regularly. In a few years a lot of bookmarks, customized settings, add-ons, add-on settings, etc. get collected to create a very personal browsing experience.

Browser Data Portability

When you buy a new computer or laptop, you have to transport or rebuild this mountain of data somehow. It is a serious task. And a complete waste of time, too.

Using portable versions of your favorite browsers is a much better idea.

Transporting a portable browser with all its settings, bookmarks, and add-ons included is as simple as copying a folder from your hard drive to a USB stick or an SD card.

Then you simply copy your portable folders to your new computer and you are done. Transporting your personalized browsing experience takes only a few minutes and works like a charm.

There’s one slight difference, however, regarding the portable versions of browsers.

When you right-click on a non-portable browser’s icon, you are served with a context menu, where you can decide whether to start your browser in normal mode or private/incognito mode.

This option is gone when you use the portable versions of your browsers.

To get around this issue, you need to create a new shortcut for your portable browser’s executable file.

Mozilla Firefox

For example, I have Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition by

I right-clicked on FirefoxPortable.exe and selected Create shortcut from the context menu.

This action created a new shortcut to the mentioned executable file.

Then, I right-clicked on the shortcut’s icon and selected Properties from the context menu.

In the shortcut’s Target box I added -private after the target executable’s location.


Shortcut Properties — Mozilla Firefox Portable

So the whole target then looked like this:

"C:\Portable\Mozilla Firefox\FirefoxPortable.exe" -private

After saving this change and then double-clicking on the shortcut, Firefox started up in private browsing mode.

A very similar tweak can be used to make all major browsers start in private or incognito mode.

Google Chrome

For Google Chrome, add -incognito after the target’s location, such as this:

"C:\Portable\Google Chrome\GoogleChromePortable.exe" -incognito


For Opera, add -newprivatetab after the target’s location, such as this:

C:\Portable\Opera\OperaPortable.exe -private

Internet Explorer

For Internet Explorer, add -private after the target’s location, such as this:

"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" -private


There is no portable version for Internet Explorer legally available. However, the above tweak can still be used on an installed, non-portable version of Internet Explorer.

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