Although Safari might have a case of amnesia when it comes to your browsing history, cookies, and site data in Private Browsing mode, anyone who gets their hands on your unlocked iPhone can waltz right into your private tabs.

Fortunately, with iOS 17, Apple has enabled the use of FaceID to unlock the private browsing session to disallow any unauthorized access. Now, private tabs are locked when you're not using them; every time you want to access your private tabs after your device is locked, you'll need to provide authentication. Though it is a tad late to the party as the competition already allows us to do that, for Apple users, it's better late than never.

Along with iOS 17, macOS Sonoma also introduced this feature. However, since no Macs support Face ID at the time of writing this article, you can unlock Private tabs in Safari using Touch ID (on supported Macs).

The feature is enabled by default in iOS 17. However, if you turned it off accidentally and don't seem to find the setting, this guide will be all you need.

Enable Face ID for Private Browsing in Safari on iPhone

First, head to the 'Settings' app either from the Home Screen or App Library.

Then, locate and tap on the 'Safari' tile to proceed.

Next, scroll down and tap the toggle following the 'Require Face ID to Unlock Private Browsing' option to enable it. And that's it.

Now, whenever you access 'Private Tabs' in Safari after first unlocking your iPhone, it will require your Face ID to view/access the tabs. Though there is no direct way to enter your passcode instead, if the Face ID fails twice, it will allow you to enter the passcode to unlock the private tabs.

Enable Touch ID/ Password for Private Browsing in Safari on Mac

Macs don't have Face IDs, but you can lock your private tabs and require Touch ID (if your Mac supports it) or your login password for authentication. Unlike iPhones, the feature isn't enabled by default, but it only takes a couple of seconds to enable it.

First, launch Safari either from the Dock or the Launchpad.

After that, click on the 'Safari' tab from the Menu bar and select 'Settings' to proceed. You can also use the Cmd + , keyboard shortcut.

Then, head to the 'Privacy' tab.

Next, check the 'Require TouchID to view locked tabs'/ 'Require Password to view locked tabs'.

Now, whenever you access your private tabs after the device is first unlocked, you'll need to authenticate using Touch ID or device password.

Locking your private tabs when you're not using them adds a layer of protection to your browsing activities which were previously vulnerable to anyone who could get their hands on your unlocked iPhone/ Mac. So, no more embarrassing mishaps!