Google detoxing: DuckDuckGo as main search engine


At the end of my WhatsFace piece, I wrote:

I am no Google fan, either. I’ve been using some of Google’s products over the years because I actually liked Google ten years ago or so. Lately, not so much. So, again acting on principle, I’m currently getting rid of quite a number of secondary Gmail accounts I’ve opened (mainly to subscribe to other services, apps, mailing lists).


For my search needs, I’m using DuckDuckGo more and more often, and I think it’s a great alternative. (Read this interesting article if you want to know more about it: Inside DuckDuckGo, Google’s Tiniest, Fiercest Competitor).

At the start of this week, I decided to fully embrace DuckDuckGo, and use it as main search engine all the time, not just every now and then. I really like how DuckDuckGo handles privacy. From the aforementioned article:

When you do a search from DuckDuckGo’s website or one of its mobile apps, it doesn’t know who you are. There are no user accounts. Your IP address isn’t logged by default. The site doesn’t use search cookies to keep track of what you do over time or where else you go online. It doesn’t save your search history. When you click on a link in DuckDuckGo’s results, those websites won’t see which search terms you used. The company even has its own Tor exit relay, allowing Tor users to search DuckDuckGo with less of a performance lag.

I’m quite satisfied with DuckDuckGo. Searching is fast, the search interface is fully customisable, and I’ve not really been missing Google search so far. I like the Cloud Save feature a lot: it allows you to save your settings anonymously across devices: you just set a passphrase and off you go.

Setting DuckDuckGo as primary search engine in Safari

Google search is easily integrated in all browsers, and Safari’s only choices in Preferences > General are Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are a few solutions to make searching in DuckDuckGo easier than visiting its main webpage every time you want to search for something. The first, less intrusive way is to install its official Safari extension (download it from this support page — note that DuckDuckGo provides extensions and add-ons for many other browsers, see the left sidebar in that page). Once installed, the extension adds a new button on Safari’s toolbar, and when you click on it, you’ll see this popover:

DuckDuckGo ext

It’s very useful because it provides you with quick access to various search options. However, after so much time performing searches directly in the address bar/search bar, I often found myself accidentally searching on Google, so I looked for an alternative to integrate DuckDuckGo with Safari more deeply. At the bottom of the same support page suggested above, there are a few different methods to achieve such goal. The one I’ve chosen, which seems rather straightforward, is to install the Safari Keyword Search extension by Arne Martin Aurlien. As you can read on the extension’s page, Safari Keyword Search is a simple extension for Safari 5.1 and above that can change the default Safari search engine and enables keyword searching from the address bar. To access its preferences, you Ctrl-click (or right-click) on any webpage and select Keyword Search settings from the contextual menu. The following settings page will appear:

Safari keyword search

You simply select the highlighted keyword option (d) and set it as default, so that you won’t have to type d [search term] in the address bar every time you want to search with DuckDuckGo. After you save your preferences, you’ll just enter your search terms in Safari’s address bar as usual, and you’ll get the results in DuckDuckGo.

On iOS

I usually perform a lot of Web searches on my Macs more than on my iOS devices, so for now my solution has been to install the official DuckDuckGo iOS app (iTunes link), and to set Yahoo as default search engine in Mobile Safari’s settings. (If you have Launch Center Pro, you can set up an action to search text in DuckDuckGo’s iOS app, since it’s supported.) Apparently, the only way for now to integrate DuckDuckGo in Safari on iOS is to have a jailbroken device. Instructions are provided at this support page.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!