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Incognito window being one of the most used feature across the web browser. I wonder why they possess a dark theme?

  • By "across web browsers" I assume you mean "in Google Chrome", because neither Edge nor Firefox does this - they use the same theme, except for the start page's content. Also, I don't think Incognito is one of the most used features of web browsers, even remotely. – msanford Feb 22 '18 at 20:02
  • Safari and opera also use the the dark theme. Infact the latest version of Firefox uses the purple dark theme in incognito mode. – Mehul Shah Feb 23 '18 at 5:44
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    This is going to be an opinion based question because the best we can do is guess. My guess is that the color swap in Chrome is supposed to be a cue that you're browsing in a different mode than usual. Safari does the color swap on the address bar so you're made aware of it while inputting a URL. – Wendy Wojenka Feb 23 '18 at 11:07
  • Because if you're using incognito mode, you're probably doing something dark. – Alan Feb 23 '18 at 14:27
  • Then how did this concept of dark theme begin and later on got picked up as a design trend across various browsers? – Mehul Shah Feb 24 '18 at 6:57
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I imagine that the reason behind having two separate themes for these browsing modes is to better reinforce communication to the user about which mode they are browsing in.

The difference in visual style is a subtle yet distinct visual cue to the user about which mode they are in.

It wouldn't be a nice experience if you wanted to browse 'incognito mode' but by accidental mistake you were using the regular mode only because the browser UI was the same.


As to why they chose a 'dark' theme and not an orange theme or something else, well I'm not 100% sure but I think they have just inversed the colours from the regular theme.

The dark colour of the buttons replaces the chrome fill and the chrome fill replaces the buttons. This is fairly standard practice as you don't have to adjust the colour palette, you just invert the primary & secondary colours.

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    Agreed. BTW, a dark theme seems to be Chrome-specific. Gnome Web, for example, uses a light blue theme for private browsing: help.gnome.org/users/epiphany/stable/media/… . – Tin Man Feb 22 '18 at 15:42
  • +1 for the reinforcement. Personally, I find the inprivate/incognito icon near the tab bar to not be an obvious enough indicator. This is especially helpful when I'm using a different browser and I'm not sure if I used the correct shortcut (it varies between browsers). – Wes Toleman Feb 24 '18 at 12:01
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It's a way to remind users what mode they're in. Kinda moot for the visually impaired user who relies on accessibility features and not color.

A better option would be to allow the user to assign their own color to incognito (or private mode) mode, reflecting personalization and cultural preferences on color.

Switching into this mode comes and announcing it with a handy message when you do so and its implication, such as with Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox is the way to go.

Chrome Incognito window message Firefox Private browsing message

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