Chrome for Windows desktop shortcut

Regardless of your reasons for using Incognito, we’ve all taken Google Chrome’s privacy option for granted. As it stands now, though, on Windows 10, your typing data is still passed through Windows’ prediction services even while using Chrome in Incognito mode. Microsoft is working to fix this and avoid awkward text predictions from both Google Chrome and Chromium-based Edge by marking your keyboard input as private while in Incognito.

Now that Microsoft is heavily invested in the future of Chromium (and thus, indirectly, Google Chrome) thanks to their revamped Edge browser, the company’s developers have been hard at work improving the browser’s experience on Windows. The latest improvement to Chromium on Windows 10 that Microsoft has decided to work on is keeping your private browsing private by treating your typing in Incognito windows as private.

You may already know that your Incognito typing is secure on Android, as keyboards like Gboard and SwiftKey very clearly show that they respect your privacy in Chrome (and other browsers) by not using these sessions to make typing predictions.

Surprisingly, these protections have thus far not extended to Windows. In a new work-in-progress code change on the Chromium Gerrit, a Microsoft developer is able to very simply fix this by connecting two existing aspects of Chrome and Windows 10 together to protect your Incognito typing from prediction services.

Since version 68, Chrome has had “shouldDoLearning” as a way to let your device’s keyboard software know whether to use your input for predictions. This is enabled for text by default in both Incognito mode and Chrome’s Guest mode.

Chrome’s “shouldDoLearning” is being connected to “IS_PRIVATE” from Windows’ Text Services Framework which is how Windows knows to treat a text box as private. Together, your Guest sessions and Incognito mode browsing will no longer be used for predicting what you’ll type in the future.

Unfortunately, “IS_PRIVATE” is new to Windows 10, which means the privacy of your Incognito typing can only be protected on Windows 10. Users of older versions of Windows should still be mindful of what they type into Chrome even in Incognito mode.

As the feature is still a work in progress, we’re not likely to see these privacy protections until Chrome 76 and Edge 76 at the earliest.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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