Can you determine if Chrome is in incognito mode via a script?

Can you determine if Chrome is in incognito mode via a script?

Is it possible to determine if Google Chrome is in incognito mode via a script?
Edit: I actually meant is it possible via user-script, but the answers assume JavaScript is running on a web page. I’ve re-asked the question here in regards to user scripts.


Solution 1:

Yes. Up until Chrome 76, the FileSystem API is disabled in incognito mode. Check out when you are and aren’t in incognito mode.

Sample code:

    var fs = window.RequestFileSystem || window.webkitRequestFileSystem;
    if (!fs) {
      console.log("check failed?");
    } else {
         console.log.bind(console, "not in incognito mode"),
         console.log.bind(console, "incognito mode"));

Solution 2:

One way is to visit a unique URL and then check to see whether a link to that URL is treated as visited by CSS.

You can see an example of this in “Detecting Incognito” (Dead link).

Research paper by same author to replace Detecting Incognito link above

In main.html add an iframe,

 <iframe id='testFrame' name='testFrame' onload='setUniqueSource(this)' src='' style="width:0; height:0; visibility:hidden;"></iframe>

, and some JavaScript code:

function checkResult() {
  var a = frames[0].document.getElementById('test');
  if (!a) return;

  var color;
  if (a.currentStyle) {
    color = a.currentStyle.color;
  } else {
    color = frames[0].getComputedStyle(a, '').color;

  var visited = (color == 'rgb(51, 102, 160)' || color == '#3366a0');
  alert('mode is ' + (visited ? 'NOT Private' : 'Private'));

function setUniqueSource(frame) {
  frame.src = "test.html?" + Math.random();
  frame.onload = '';

Then in test.html that are loaded into the iFrame:

   a:link { color: #336699; }
   a:visited { color: #3366A0; }
  setTimeout(function() {
    var a = document.createElement('a');
    a.href = location; = 'test';
  }, 100);

NOTE: trying this from the filesystem can make Chrome cry about “Unsafe Javascript”. It
will, however, work serving from a webserver.

Solution 3:

You can, in JavaScript, see JHurrah’s answer. Except for not highlighting links, all incognito mode does is not save browse history and cookies. From google help page:

  • Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito
    aren’t recorded in your browsing and
    download histories.
  • All new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows
    that you’ve opened.

As you can see the differences between normal browsing and incognito happen after you visit the webpage, hence there is nothing that browser communicates to the server when it’s in this mode.

You can see what exactly your browser sends to the server using one of many HTTP request analysers, like this one here. Compare the headers between normal session and incognito and you will see no difference.

Solution 4:

If you are developing an Extension then you can use the tabs API to determine if a window/tab incognito.

More information can be found here.

If you are just working with a webpage, it is not easy, and it is designed to be that way. However, I have noticed that all attempts to open a database (window.database) fail when in incongnito, this is because when in incognito no trace of data is allowed to be left on the users machine.

I haven’t tested it but I suspect all calls to localStorage fail too.

Solution 5:

This uses a promise to wait for the asynchronous code to set a flag, so we can use it synchronously afterward.

let isIncognito = await new Promise((resolve, reject)=>{
    var fs = window.RequestFileSystem || window.webkitRequestFileSystem;
    if (!fs) reject('Check incognito failed');
    else fs(window.TEMPORARY, 100, ()=>resolve(false), ()=>resolve(true));      

then we can do

if(isIncognito) alert('in incognito');
else alert('not in incognito');

Solution 6:

Quick copy-paste function based on Alok’s Answer (note: this is asynchronous)

function ifIncognito(incog,func){
    var fs = window.RequestFileSystem || window.webkitRequestFileSystem;
    if (!fs)  console.log("checking incognito failed");
    else {
        if(incog) fs(window.TEMPORARY, 100, ()=>{}, func);
        else      fs(window.TEMPORARY, 100, func, ()=>{});


ifIncognito(true,  ()=>{ alert('in incognito') });
// or
ifIncognito(false, ()=>{ alert('not in incognito') });