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If you thought that disabling incognito mode was enough to protect your children, you're probably mistaken. Let me explain.

Dear readers: Disabling incognito mode may be completely insufficient.

Please remember that, even if you disable Google Chrome's incognito mode, there are other ways for device users to browse the Web without leaving any tracks. Even technologically-illiterate kids can ask Google or their friends what to do. So it's wise to also install a good filter.

I haven't researched the set of available filters very recently.

As of a few years ago:

Free options include Qustodio and Google Family Link. The free version of Norton Family is perhaps not as good. If you're willing to pay, I've read that Netspark or GenTech are better than the free products.

In general, Android filtering software is not as good as desktop filtering software.

You may also want to collect up your spouse's and kids' new and old Android devices, and to lock them all in your bedroom every night.

Dear readers: Some thoughts about night time.

"When kids have their own devices, they are tempted to be in touch constantly — and maybe even feel obligated to be in touch when they don't want to." If your kid gets a Facebook message at 1 a.m., it might be rude for her to ignore it until the morning, and so she might reluctantly end up in a long conversation. (Based on this source.)

The solution to the late-night messaging problem is this: Late at night, there are ways to prevent your kid from using her phone, tablet, and laptop. You can keep them locked in your own bedroom to charge. Or, for Android devices, you can use Google Family Link to set a bedtime: please see here or here. This will also make it harder for your kid to secretly spend hours on addictive pursuits: YouTube, Facebook, pornography, and games.

Dear readers: Please test your filter immediately after installation, and again at least yearly.

Once you install a filter, I suggest: Immediately test to make sure that it works well. Go to a few adult websites and make sure they're blocked. If you have monitoring enabled, check to see that it does what it's supposed to. If you've set a bedtime, then check yearly to make sure that the phone actually locks itself at bedtime.

Even if a filter's control panel claims that it's working, the filter might not actually be working at all. It's wise to test it yourself.

If you'd like to test the filter even further, try to visit one or two wikiHow articles with mature content. If the filter is really good, it might block them. I don't have high hopes.

Test your filter again periodically. At least once a year; preferably more often.

Retest after major operating-system or browser upgrades, and again whenever a supplemental browser (e.g. Firefox) is installed.

Filters are not foolproof. Many kids can bypass the filters without the parents knowing. But a filter may still be better than no filter.

Background to my question

Google Chrome for Android includes a feature called incognito mode. This feature, when I activate it, is designed to help prevent Chrome from automatically remembering and storing information about which websites I've visited in the past.

To help protect myself, I've installed the free version of Qustodio (a Web filtering/monitoring app) on my Android device. Unfortunately, as soon as the user enters incognito mode, Qustodio for Android stops working.

What are my options? Well:

  • I could try upgrading to Android 6 or higher, or to CyanogenMod 13 or higher, or could buy a device that ships with one of these OSes preinstalled. A support knowledge base article on the Qustodio website claims that, on these operating systems, Qustodio works fine even when incognito mode is active. But I suspect that this claim may be inaccurate. I don't know for sure. Please leave a comment below.

  • I could do the following procedure:

    1. Install the free version of NetAddictSoft plus the Brehm browser. Mr. Brehm's claims aren't all correct; in truth, there's an easy way to clear the Brehm browser's history. But the free version of NetAddictSoft claims to be able to monitor all use of the Brehm browser and email out weekly usage reports. (Note that, on most devices, NetAddictSoft can only monitor usage of the Brehm browser, and cannot monitor usage of Chrome or Firefox or any other browser.)
    2. Configure Smart App Lock or similar to prevent the use of other browsers. (Note: Smart App Lock isn't perfect, and it's possible to defeat it.)

I might do the above procedure, but: My device has an old Android version installed. For me to upgrade to a newer Android version, I'd have to switch to a third-party ROM, and this would be a hassle.

  • I could spend money on a more-powerful filter, such as NetSpark or GenTech. But I'd rather not spend any money.

  • I could contact Qustodio's support team and send in a bug report. But I hear they can't really help. The feature is experimental. (Source.) And it's been experimental for years now. It's not really fully supported.

  • I could uninstall Qustodio, could install Norton Family, and could try Norton Family's incognito-detection feature. But I don't want to bother doing that either.

  • I could look into why Qustodio doesn't work when incognito mode is active, then file a feature request with Google to ask them to fix the problem.

  • I could sell my phone and buy an iPhone or iPad. They include built-in Web filtering. I don't know whether or not it's any good.

  • I could sell my phone and switch to a phone without built-in Wi-Fi. Perhaps a Palm Treo or Centro or an old BlackBerry.

But I don't want to choose any of the above options.

My question

On desktop OSes, I already know that it's possible to disable Google Chrome's incognito mode. But I also use Android. How can I disable Google Chrome's incognito mode on my Android device?

Please assume the following:

  • I always run the latest version of Android.

  • My device is owned and controlled by me. It is not administered by a Google Apps domain administrator at my workplace or my school. And so I cannot use the Google Apps admin console to disable incognito mode. (I also don't want to pay a fee in order to sign up for Google Apps for Work.)

  • I am willing to root my device.

I thank Android.SE user Lucky for inspiring this question.

  • I thought maybe I could use a profile-owner app, could create a managed profile, could set IncognitoModeAvailability, and could solve my problem. But this won't help. When a profile-owner app is installed, managed apps appear side-by-side in the launcher next to unmanaged apps, like in the screenshots in this article. I could just use the unmanaged version of Chrome. So a profile-owner app is not the solution. – tealhill supports Monica Mar 23 '17 at 18:46
  • Instead of using a profile-owner app, you can try using a device-owner app such as Test DPC to set Chrome's IncognitoModeAvailability restriction to 1. You can set Test DPC as device owner after rooting: see link A for some hints. Or you can set Test DPC as device owner after installing adb on a PC: see link B and link C for some hints. – tealhill supports Monica Mar 23 '17 at 19:28
  • But, after you set IncognitoModeAvailability, perhaps your child (or a more-technical friend) could use one of various techniques to unset it. I don't plan to list these techniques here; but at least one of them might be pretty obvious even to a somewhat-technical friend of your child. – tealhill supports Monica Mar 23 '17 at 19:34
  • I've never tried Test DPC. Dear all: Have you managed to set it as device owner? If so, was it useful for you or not, and why? – tealhill supports Monica Mar 23 '17 at 19:34
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You could try Incoquito - it's a paid app and allows you to either automatically close all incognito tabs when the screen turns off or to disable incognito browsing altogether by preventing incognito tabs from being opened at all. It includes a monitoring mode as well as logging of events/activities related to incognito browsing in Chrome as well as the ability to hide the app from the launcher. It also includes the following experimental features (as requested by several parents):

  • Log videos played within the YouTube app
  • Uninstall detection & prevention
  • Android settings guard
  • Block access to YouTube app

Disclosure: I am the developer of Incoquito.

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  • I haven't tried it, but I've looked at its full Play Store description. It sounds simple and clever. – tealhill supports Monica Jun 5 '17 at 18:41
  • Dear parents: Incoquito alone isn't sufficient. It may be easy for your kids to get around it, even if they're not tech-savvy. You must also install a filter. ❧ The free version of Qustodio is probably the best free option; the free version of Norton Family might be the second-best free filter. If you're willing to pay, I've read that NetSpark or GenTech are better than the free products. ❧ You may also want to collect up your spouse's and kids' new and old Android devices, and to lock them all in your bedroom every night. – tealhill supports Monica Jun 5 '17 at 18:45
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If you have rooted your phone, you can build and push a system ChromeCustomizations app. This installs a content provider which, among other things, allows disabling Incognito mode in Chrome.

This uses the officially-supported way that device manufacturers use in order to control the starting page and default bookmarks of Chrome on their devices.

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  • Please note: The official instructions advise you to use adb push to install the APK file. But, if you're on a rooted stock ROM, adb push may fail, you may need to use another file transfer method, and the file might end up with the wrong permissions. If this happens, you must manually run adb shell, chmod the file to 644, and reboot. After rebooting, run pm list packages. If the APK file's Java package name is included in the list, then its file permissions are correct. – tealhill supports Monica Dec 15 '15 at 19:29
  • Perhaps a few years ago, I built a ChromeCustomizations.apk file which could disable incognito mode on any rooted Android device. I installed the file as a "system app" on my own device, and it worked. I do still have the file. Please email me at tealhill at gmail dot com if you'd like a copy for yourself. In your email, please explain why the Lemino Labs answer above is insufficient to meet your needs. – tealhill supports Monica Oct 15 '18 at 20:57
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As explained by tealhill you can install NetAddictsoft and the NetAddict browser without incognito mode.

In NetAddictSoft, you can block any App and there is an option to forbid all the browsers excepted NetAddict Browser.

Disclosure: I am the developer of NetAddictSoft. http://netaddictsoft.com

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1

Google Family Link

If you set Google Family Link to protect an Android device, it will automatically disable Google Chrome's incognito mode on that device. (Google says so in this article. I myself have tried Family Link and verified that the article is correct.)

Family Link can also do Web filtering, screen-time monitoring, and device-location tracking. But these features are optional; you may disable them if you wish.

The usual Family Link setup is as follows: One device (a computer or mobile device) is the "parent" device, and a second device is the "child" device. Incognito mode will only be disabled on the "child" device.

If you'd like to get started, you may set up a "parent" account now.

It has quirks

Google Family Link has some quirks. I've described the biggest quirk I've noticed, and its workaround, in another thread.

I hope that Google will work on eliminating the quirks in the future.

Despite its quirks, Family Link works reasonably well already, and I think it's a good way to disable incognito mode.

It may be easy to defeat

I'm not sure whether or not Family Link is easy for crafty children to defeat. But, in general, there are ways to defeat most parental-control software tools.

It's wise to buy your kids a flip phone with no data plan, and a non-portable computer which is permanently stored in a public room such as the living room. It's also wise to store all of your personal cellphones, laptops, and tablets in your bedroom at night, so that your kids can't secretly use them.

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I have just released a new app which blocks incognito tabs from Chrome, Incognito Away.

The Chrome tabs are blocked instantly, as soon as some tries to open it. You can also have a pop-up message appear when some does try and open an incognito tab, to serve as a helpful reminder or warning.

It also has Scheduled Blocking, meaning that you can choose to if you want, to have incognito tabs only blocked from 6PM to 9AM every day for example.

Additionally, there is an inbuilt feature to hide the app’s icon from the launcher, so that it’s harder for someone to remember or find that the app is installed.

Pairing Incognito Away, with those steps above, and a Web Filter like Qustodio would make it pretty rock solid in preventing one from browsing privately.

Note: I am the developer of Incognito Away. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch :)

PS: I know there is already another accepted answer, but this app has some additional features which may be of benefit (as discussed above) :)

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You could install Automate from Play Store and create a flow that looks for Incognito mode notification and automatically clicks it to close all Incognito tabs.

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