DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine that has been online since 2008. Find websites, maps, videos, news and more without tracking your searches and showing you targeted ads. Here̵
Most browsers already include DuckDuckGo as a search option
DuckDuckGo has been gaining ground for over a decade, eventually breaking into the “mainstream” in September 2014 when Apple offered it as a default search engine in Safari for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Later, in November of the same year, Mozilla added it to Firefox 33.1.
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Since then, almost every major browser has recognized DuckDuckGo by making it an optional default search engine. This includes Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera.
Launch Chrome, click on the ‘three dots’ menu icon in the top right corner of the window and click on ‘Settings’.
Choose “Search Engine” from the list on the left side of the screen. Click the drop-down menu next to “Search engine used in the address bar” and choose DuckDuckGo.
Launch Firefox, click the ‘three lines’ hamburger menu icon in the top right corner of the window, then click ‘Preferences’.
Click “Search” in the menu on the left side of the screen, then under “Default Search Engine” click the drop-down list and choose DuckDuckGo.
Launch Edge and click on the ‘three dots’ menu button in the top right corner of the window, then select ‘Settings’. Click on “Privacy, Search and Services” in the menu that appears on the left, scroll down to the “Services” menu and choose “Address Bar and Search”.
From here, click on the drop-down menu next to “Search engine used in the address bar” and choose DuckDuckGo.
Launch Safari on a Mac, click “Safari” in the menu bar at the top of the screen, then click “Preferences.” You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + to quickly open Safari’s preferences. Click the Search tab and choose DuckDuckGo under the “Search Engine” drop-down list.
In Safari for iPhone and iPad, launch the Settings app and tap Safari. Tap “Search Engine” and choose DuckDuckGo from the list.
Start Opera and then click the Settings “gear” button in the sidebar on the left side of the screen. Under ‘Basic’ settings, scroll down until you see ‘Search engine’ and a drop-down list. Select DuckDuckGo from the list.
Are you using a different browser?
DuckDuckGo is available as a search engine in many niche browsers.
Install the DuckDuckGo browser extension
If simply switching your search engine to DuckDuckGo isn’t enough, you can take it a step further and install the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension instead. The extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera.
By default, the extension blocks tracker networks, making it much harder for advertisers to track you on the web. You also get an idea of who you are trying to track. The extension forces websites to use an encrypted connection (denoted by https: // in the address bar) where possible to hide your browsing habits from ISPs and other snoopers.
The extension also allows you to make your default search engine DuckDuckGo (if you haven’t already) and assigns a privacy score to websites you visit through a partnership with Didn’t Read Terms of Service.
Use DuckDuckGo for media, news, maps and directions
Like Google and other major search engines, DuckDuckGo allows you to filter results by type, including videos and images. After you’ve searched for something, just like in Google, you can click on the various filters at the top of the page.
In addition to media searches, DuckDuckGo can also show you news results, recipes and places. You can search for ‘pizza near me’ and then share your location to get localized results on a map. You can also just use DuckDuckGo as a map tool for directions or reference thanks to Apple’s MapKit integration.
To do this, search for “map of Australia” (replace Australia with the city you are looking for) or search for the city name and then click Maps. Although DuckDuckGo uses Apple’s map API, no identifying information is shared with Apple, so your privacy remains unaffected.
Since this is the same mapping solution built into macOS and seen on the iPhone and iPad, you can use it to get directions, view satellite images, or view businesses on a map. Click on the map pin in the top right corner of the page to share your location (DuckDuckGo promises not to store this data).
Get answers just like with Google
When you ask Google a question, you often get an answer in the form of a snippet of relevant information at the top of the search results. DuckDuckGo performs a similar job, so try asking questions to get what the search engine calls Instant Answers.
This includes features found in other search engines, such as simple math calculations (“what is 2 + 2”), unit conversion (“2oz in grams”), and exchange rates (“10 USD in AUD”). You can also use DuckDuckGo to define words (“define malware”) or find synonyms (“thesaurus happy”).
Use bangs to search for specific websites
Ponies are qualifiers that you can add to your search to limit your search results to a particular website. For example, if you want to find How-To Geek, you can! Add howtogeek to your search, for example “! Howtogeek windows networking”.
There are thousands of bangers available for all types of websites, from the obvious like! Youtube and! Reddit to niche services. If you’re running a website that doesn’t currently have a bang, you can submit it. Keep in mind that DuckDuckGo has previously removed many ponies for liability reasons, including websites that allow piracy.
You can even quickly access Google from DuckDuckGo if you find yourself occasionally needing to perform a search that only requires Google. The Google bang is easy! G. For example, you can type “! G example” to search Google for “example”.
Don’t forget the DuckDuckGo mobile app
Last, but certainly not least, is the DuckDuckGo mobile app, available for iPhone and iPad as well as Android. This app is optional and you can probably already switch to DuckDuckGo in your mobile browser of choice, be it Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
It’s most similar to the Google app for iPhone and iPad in the sense that it functions like a web browser, except it replaces Google’s data collection and tracking for DuckDuckGo’s private browsing approach.
The app makes it easy to quickly switch your default browser to DuckDuckGo, and also offers many of the other benefits of the browser extension. This includes making it as difficult as possible for advertisers to track you and providing forced encryption and a privacy rating for every website you visit.
The browser also includes a fire button, which burns your entire browsing history and currently open tabs with one tap. You can also secure the browser with a fingerprint or facial recognition for added security.
You can of course also use DuckDuckGo as your default search engine in mobile browsers such as Safari and Google Chrome.
Better privacy while browsing the web
Google is an advertising company. The more it knows about you, the better it can serve you relevant advertising. This is why the company keeps track of so much of what you do online. Google’s algorithms take everything from the videos you watch on YouTube to the websites you visit that use Google Analytics to build a profile of your interests that advertisers can target.
DuckDuckGo makes money from advertising served by Microsoft and affiliates such as Amazon and eBay, but they do so in a way that doesn’t track or identify you. Learn more about how DuckDuckGo makes its money.
While Google may be the more powerful search engine, using it comes at the expense of privacy. Dropping Google in favor of a search engine like DuckDuckGo is a small change you can make for a more private online experience.
Looking for something else? Check out Ecosia, a non-profit search engine that uses its revenue to plant trees.
RELATED: What is Ecosia? Meet a Google alternative that plants trees