Always Open External Links in Incognito with Chrome

Google Chrome is my de facto desktop browser, but its latest update (v68.0.3440.75, to be exact) fixed a bug that has been more of a feature to me (and as it turns out, a number of others as well). Before this update, any external link outside of Chrome would be opened as a new tab in Chrome’s “last active window” — if you were browsing in Incognito mode, it would open any link you click outside of Chrome, assuming you have Chrome set as your default browser, in a new tab under the same Incognito window you’d been using.

October 2022 update: it looks like Google has brought this feature back. Hooray! The workaround below is no longer necessary.

I’ve grown to love this neat little feature, and this “bug” has been around for so long that it is probably what got me into the habit of keeping my browsing history minimal and essential, i.e. ideally it should contain only sites that are worth revisiting, not a page to unsubscribe from newsletters I never really wanted to “subscribe” in the first place, for example.

Here is a workaround: create an AppleScript (like the one below), save it as an Application, register it as a handler of http and https schemes, set this as the default browser, and voila!


on run theURL
tell application "Google Chrome"
if application "Google Chrome" is not running then
close window 1
end if
make new window with properties {mode:"incognito"}
tell its window 1
set URL of tab 1 to theURL
end tell
end tell
end run

Now, if you don’t really want to deal with all this, you can download a zipped I’ve already built here. Just unzip and move it to your /Applications/ folder, set it as the default web browser, and you’re all set.

If you are on macOS Sierra or later, you might need to disable the Gatekeeper with:

sudo spctl --master-disable