8 effective ways to view private browsing history on iPhone

Jerry Wiggins

Table of content

As a parent, you naturally worry about what your kids are up to on their phone and although you might have activated parental control on their phones, you are unsure if parental controls see private browsing of your children. Or you might be a worried spouse noticing your partner might be doing something suspicious which they are hiding with their iPhone’s incognito mode.


Worry no longer, as this article will teach you effective ways to view private browsing history on an iPhone to clear your doubts and keep your kids safe from their vices.


A girl is in search of something on a website.


Part 1. Basic knowledge about private browsing


1.1. What is private browsing mode


Private browsing mode is also known as incognito mode or private mode. This is a feature on most web browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Bing that lets users browse the internet without leaving a trail of their activities on the device. Importantly, private browsing enables users to surf the internet without having to delete their browsing history later, basically making them incognito on their phones.


Incognito icon.


1.2. How to enable private browsing mode


Enabling private browsing mode on an iPhone with Safari is quite straightforward. Depending on your iOS version, here's how to enable private browsing mode.


iOS 16 or earlier:


Step 1. Open the Safari app on your iPhone.


Step 2. Tap the Tabs button (icon with squares overlapping each other).


Step 3. Swipe right until you see the "Private" tab group.


Enable private browsing mode in iOS 16 or earlier.


iOS 17:


Step 1. Open the Safari app on your iPhone.


Step 2. Tap the Tabs button (icon with squares overlapping each other, located at the bottom of the screen).


Step 3. You will see a "Private" button directly available. Tap it to open a new private tab group.


Enable private browsing mode in iOS 17.


For additional privacy, you can choose to lock Private Browsing when not in use. When you lock your device or leave the Safari app, your private tabs in Safari will automatically lock. To unlock Private Browsing, use Touch ID, Face ID, or your device passcode.


1.3. What does private browsing hide


When you use private browsing mode, your browser doesn't store your browsing history, cookies, passwords, or site data. This can be useful for situations where you don't want someone else who uses the same device to see what websites you've been visiting in your browser history.


In effect, this means that the sites you visit aren’t added to your browser history, images and files aren’t cached, autofill data and site permissions aren’t collected, and trackers and third-party toolbars are disabled. However, it is important to understand that it doesn't make you anonymous online, your IP address and other essential data are still visible to your school, employer, or service provider.


Here are some things to keep in mind about private browsing mode:


  • Your internet service provider (ISP) and the websites you visit can still see your activity.


  • It doesn't protect you from malware or phishing scams.


  • The IP address for your device can be used to track your general location and online activity.


  • Advanced tracking methods like browser fingerprinting can be used to identify your device even in private mode.


Part 2. 8 ways to view private browsing history on iPhone [From easy to difficult]


Now, I will introduce to you 8 ways to view private browsing history on an iPhone from the easiest method to more difficult ones. I’ll lead you through the steps, pay close attention to each step.


Method 1. Using professional spy app


A sure-fire way to view the private browsing history on an iPhone is to use a professional spy app or software. These software are dedicated to spying on other devices to get hidden information such as text messages, hidden social media accounts, and most especially, private browser history.


I can relate to you wanting to know the private browsing history of your child or someone close to you. Also, from my experience, I can assure you that using a spy app is the easiest way for you to save time, energy, and needless stress to view private browsing history. So, if you are ready to use a spy app, you are in the right place. I have tested and reviewed several popular spy apps on the market. These popular apps include mSpy, Eyezy, Kidsguard Pro, Umobix, and SpyX.


The spy apps I mentioned above all have great spying capabilities depending on your needs. You will not be wrong in choosing any one of them. Nonetheless, I’m here to give you the best spy app that you can use to get all the information you will need stress-free. After testing out the popular spy apps in the market, I’ve discovered that the standout choice is the app, SpyX. I will tell you why below.


Brief introduction of SpyX


I did not choose SpyX on a whim. After testing the software, I realized that SpyX is an effective and secure phone tracker designed to monitor various activities on an iPhone. The software allows you to track browsing history, messages, calls, and more secretly. Specifically, SpyX excels in viewing private browsing history on iPhones no matter where you or the target phone is.


Screenshot of SpyX's homepage.


Strengths of SpyX for Viewing Private Browsing History



With SpyX, you can see the web pages someone else browses in safari private browsing history.


Browsing history of real users monitored by SpyX.



Effectively, the target phone user will not be able to hide what websites they have visited while using the private browser mode from you.


Browser bookmark of real users monitored by SpyX.



Moreover, with SpyX’s discrete feature, you won’t be detected while monitoring their browsing history.


What other phone activities can SpyX monitor


SpyX tracks over 40 types of data, including text messages, multimedia files, calls and call logs, social media chat history, and hidden social media accounts.


[This table is scrollable horizontally for more details.]



Device General features Social media

Text Message





GPS Locations

Browser History

Browser bookmark



Installed APPs




Wi-Fi networks

iCloud Drive


WhatsApp Business











Text Message

GPS locations



Call logs


Installed apps

Wi-Fi networks

Browser history

Browser bookmark

Live video

Live audio

Live screenshot


Easilydo mail




















How to use SpyX to view private browsing history on iPhone


Step 1. Register for a free SpyX account.


Sign up a free account.


Step 2. Set Up SpyX for iOS and subscribe to a suitable plan.


Choose the target device.


Step 3. Follow the iOS setup instructions provided by SpyX.


Step 4. Start checking the private browsing history of your target iPhone.


Navigation bar of SpyX.



Method 2. Using Settings


Although Safari doesn’t directly show private browsing history, you can still check the domain names visited during a private browsing session in the iPhone settings.


Step 1. Open "Settings" on your iOS device.


Step 2. Swipe down the main menu and tap on "Safari" from the list.


Step 3. Swipe to the bottom and tap on "Advanced".


Step 4. Now, tap on Website Data. You’ll see a list of sites visited, including those accessed in incognito mode, along with their respective data consumption.


Using Settings to view private browsing history.


Method 3. Using iCloud backup


Viewing private browsing history directly through iCloud is not possible as iCloud backups intentionally exclude private browsing history. Nonetheless, with iCloud, iPhone users can sync their browser data across several iOS devices.


This is a time-consuming process but also one of the safest methods to retrieve items previously deleted on the target's phone.


If you’re looking to retrieve other types of data from the iCloud backup, such as messages, photos, or app data, you can follow these steps:


Step 1. Open Settings on your iPhone.


Step 2. Tap on the Apple ID (your name) at the top of the screen.


Step 3. Select iCloud.


Step 4. Scroll down and find the Safari option (or any other browser they use).


Step 5. Ensure that the toggle for Safari (or the respective browser) is turned on.


Step 6. In the apps and data screen, click restore from iCloud backup.


Step 7. Log into the iCloud account and select the backup containing the deleted Safari browsing history.


Step 8. Click on the “Restore” option to continue.


Using iCloud backup to view private browsing history.


Method 4. Using iTunes backup


You can also use the iTunes backup to check the private browsing history of a target phone. However, you will need a laptop and a working USB cable. If you have those available, you can then follow the steps below:


Step 1. Connect your iPhone to your Computer using a USB cable.


Step 2. Open iTunes, and click on your device icon when it appears in the upper left corner.


Step 3. Click on the “Restore Backup” option.


Step 4. Choose a backup that was created before the private browsing session you want to access.


Step 5. Use an iPhone backup viewer tool such as iExplorer or iPhone Backup Extractor.


Step 6. Look for the Safari browsing history within the extracted data.


Now, with the extracted data, you can go on and look through the private browser history on the target phone.


Method 5. Using ISP


Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) manages your internet connection and typically does not store individual users’ browsing history, especially in private browsing mode. However, they may have aggregated data about overall internet usage, which could give a clue to your movements online. This is because ISPs only focus on routing data and ensuring network functionality.


Step 1. Use the user's device (iPhone) to make a DNS request to its ISP's DNS server.


Step 2. This request translates the website name into an IP address that the device can connect to. The ISP can see the DNS request but not the specific website name yet.


Step 3. The iPhone establishes a connection with the website's server at the retrieved IP address.


Step 4. The ISP can see the data transfer happening between the device and the server, but the content is encrypted (scrambled) due to the HTTPS protocol in most websites.


Method 6. Using Wi-Fi network


It is also possible to use Wi-Fi networks to view private browsing history since Wi-Fi routers maintain logs of internet activity for devices connected to the network. These logs include information about visited websites, IP addresses, and timestamps. To view the private browsing history, follow the steps below:


Step 1. Open a web browser on your computer or another device connected to the same Wi-Fi network.


Step 2. Enter your router’s IP address in the address bar.


Step 3. Log in using your router’s admin credentials (usually found on the router itself or in the user manual).


Step 4. Navigate to the logs or history section within your router settings.


Step 5. Look for entries related to the specific device (iPhone) you want to check.


Step 6. Note that router logs may not explicitly mention “private browsing” but will show visited domains and timestamps.


Method 7. Using Website


While Safari doesn’t directly provide access to private browsing history, you can use third-party websites or tools to track browsing activity. So,


Step 1. Open Safari on your iPhone.


Step 2. Search for a website that offers private browsing tracking services.


Step 3. In the website’s search bar, enter the URL of the website you suspect was visited during a private session.


Step 4. The tracking website will attempt to retrieve information related to that domain.


Method 8. Using browser fingerprinting


Browser fingerprinting is a method used to gather information about a user's device and browser configuration to create a unique identifier as it's based on your browsing habits and technical specifications.


Yet directly viewing private browsing history on an iPhone using browser fingerprinting is not possible. You will need a tech-savvy person to carry out this operation as it is the most difficult process out of the other methods.


Part 3. FAQs about viewing private browsing history on iPhone


Q1. Is there a way to see private browsing history?


Generally, the answer would be no, as once you close the private browsing window, that data is deleted from your device. However, with specific professional spy apps and other methods, you can view private browsing history.


Q2. Can you see private browsing history on your iPhone?


No, but with methods such as iCloud and iTunes backup, and using Wi-Fi networks and SpyX, you can be able to view private browsing history on an iPhone.


Q3. How do I open private browsing mode?


This depends on the web browser you're using. However, on iPhone, you are using the Safari browser, which is a private browsing mode. On the lower tab on the overlapping square boxes, tap on it and you will see the tab to enable private browsing mode.


Q4. Is there a way to completely hide my browsing history?


Partially. Private browsing helps a lot, but it's not foolproof. You can use a VPN or a privacy-focused browser. Also, regularly clear your browsing history and cookies in regular browsing mode.


Q5. Can I use my ISP to track my private browsing history?


Yes. With the method shown in the article, it is possible to check your private browsing history. However, you can online check the domains visited, not the activities done.


Part 4. Summary


Overall, checking someone’s private browsing history on an iPhone can be easy or difficult depending on the method you use to check it.


However, with the methods presented and the clear steps, you can view private browsing history but it will be best to use SpyX to get real-time monitoring of activities on a private browsing mode by your child or spouse.

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