How to require Face ID to unlock Private Browsing in Safari on iOS 17

What to know

  • iOS 17 adds a new safety feature for Private Browsing on Safari app – Require Face ID to Unlock Private Browsing. 
  • When this feature is enabled, Safari will prompt you to authenticate your identity using Face ID before letting you access tabs inside Private Browsing. 
  • Face ID for Private Browsing allows users to protect their private tabs which get locked as soon as their iPhone’s screen is turned off. 

What is Face ID for Private Browsing on Safari?

As is the case with any major iOS update, Apple has rolled out a bunch of new privacy and security features as part of the iOS 17 release. Among these new additions is the “Locked” Private Browsing feature which prevents people other than you from accessing or using private tabs inside Safari. The feature is enabled on all devices upgraded to iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma and provides an additional step of safety when browsing privately on your Apple device. 

When Face ID for Private Browsing is enabled, the Safari app on iOS 17 will ask you to reveal your face to start browsing the web privately. Since tabs you open inside Private Browsing mode on Safari are still accessible at later times, the need for Face ID to continue using Private Browsing prevents others who have access to your iPhone from viewing your private tabs.

Safari will ask for Face ID access every time you switch from regular tabs to private tabs or when you lock your iPhone with your private tabs open. If your device fails to detect your face twice in a row, you’ll be prompted to enter your device passcode to continue accessing Private Browsing on the app. 

How to enable Face ID for Private Browsing on iOS 17

The ability to unlock Private Browsing using Face ID is only available on iOS 17 and newer versions. So, before you enable Face ID for Private Browsing, you will need to update your device to iOS 17 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Note: At the time of writing, iOS 17 is only available as a developer preview, so we suggest you wait for a beta or public release to avoid running into issues or bugs in the software. 

To require Face ID for Private Browsing, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, scroll down and tap on Safari

On the Safari screen that appears, scroll down to the “Privacy & Security” section and turn on the Require Face ID to Unlock Private Browsing toggle. 

Safari will now be enabled with the new feature and will ask you to reveal your face for a Face ID scan every time you open a private tab on the app. 

How to unlock Private Browsing using Face ID on Safari 

Once you’ve enabled the “Require Face ID to Unlock Private Browsing” feature inside Settings, you can take this feature for a trial run by opening the Safari app on your phone. 

Inside Safari, swipe up from the bottom Tab Bar until you see all your open tabs on the screen. 

When you see the active tabs on your screen, tap on the Private tab from the bottom left corner or swipe from left to right on the bottom bar. 

This will open the Private Browsing screen which will show as “locked” as you may have expected. To continue browsing privately, tap on Unlock

iOS will now prompt you with the Face ID scanner that needs access to your face to proceed. 

Once Face ID is authenticated, you should see your existing Private Browsing tabs or a new private tab on the screen. 

To lock your private tab again, you can either lock your iPhone’s screen or switch to a regular tab inside Safari. 

That’s all you need to know about requiring Face ID to unlock Private Browsing in Safari on iOS 17. 

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