I like always using Firefox in private browsing mode, but there are several issues which are kind of out of my control where other apps will open new Firefox windows, and the default behavior is to open them in non-private mode.

What can be done to make the normal mode operate exactly the same as private browsing mode (sans the purple mask icon in the window header)?

I've found info about launching Firefox with a "-private" flag but that is bugged in several ways, and it only helps if I use that shortcut. Other apps will still open new windows in non-private mode to congratulate me with a successful install or ask why I deleted them.

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    You might want to use Tor Browser for more anonymity. – Michael S. Apr 23 '17 at 7:12
  • Tor Browser is a fork of Firefox with certain extensions built in. – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 7:53
  • Please don't edit the answer into your question. Super User is a question and answer site and answers should be separate from questions. You can answer your own question instead. – DavidPostill Apr 29 '17 at 19:38

If you open the about:preferences page and select Privacy on the left, you can change History on the pull-down menu to Use custom settings for history. Once you do that, you can check the box that says Always use private browsing mode:

Firefox Privacy Options

  • What version is that? – user1306322 Apr 22 '17 at 12:44
  • The latest mainstream stable release: 53.0 – Run5k Apr 22 '17 at 12:45
  • So I guess if you use the "custom" option, you can also disable cookies, but the "Never remember history" is what is seen on the screenshot − cookies will be accepted. – user1306322 Apr 22 '17 at 12:46
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    Needless to say, in the option shown above the choice is yours: you can configure it to accept cookies or simply uncheck it. – Run5k Apr 22 '17 at 12:49

Navigate to about:preferences#privacy and under the History label select Never remember history:

Screenshot of options

This will have the same effect as always-private.

If you select Use custom settings for history there's also an explicit Always use private browsing mode checkbox, but I believe this has the same effect as Never remember history.

Screenshot of options

  • What about the "Tracking protection" options? Does private mode and normal mode use the same "basic" list or does private use "strict"? – user1306322 Apr 22 '17 at 12:19
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    @user1306322 Effectively, yes. You'll also get the Tracking Protection. But Private Browsing is effectively a container that will remember cookies, history, etc., within the session and then forget it all when the last Private window is closed. The alternative (of forgetting cookies etc. immediately) actually breaks a good number of websites, including most that have accounts. – Bob Apr 22 '17 at 12:21
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    @user1306322 Normal browsing does not activate 'tracking protection'. But if you enable Never remember history then yes, it should. – Bob Apr 22 '17 at 12:21
  • I see there's an explicit option to enable Tracking protection to be always on in the current Nightly. – user1306322 Apr 22 '17 at 12:24
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    I actually vaguely remember the option used to be more explicit about it being private browsing, but they folded it under the History options during some settings reorganisation. But I can't find the relevant bugzilla entry right now. @user1306322 You might also find containers interesting/useful. – Bob Apr 22 '17 at 12:24

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