If you have used an Internet browser (ever) and searched something through google.com you’re not alone, many of us are so accustomed to Google search that the word Google has become a verb. But why stick with something just because it’s habit when there is something way cooler out there?
If you haven’t tried out DuckDuckGo out yet for your searches, start with your web browser. DuckDuckGo has been around since 2008 and has made its name on being “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” That’s what got me interested. It seems, according to this article in Forbes, that others are having a similar feeling; search queries on DDG have grown considerably since 2013.
I am probably medium-weird about privacy – not totally lax but not completely freaked out either. But Google, Facebook, and Amazon are notoriously terrible for tracking and spying on users and using that data for not great stuff. We are now living in a data economy, this stuff isn’t going away, so rather than pretend it doesn’t happen, I think it’s time to figure out what you are and are not willing to give up to big data. Your web search history which is incredibly personal is one great place to start. Go ahead. Try it out.
Not so bad, huh?
So if you like it and you want to use it all the time, what next?
The next thing to do is to open your browser settings and switch the default search engine.
For those of you on Safari: Go to preferences, then search and select DDG from the pull-down menu.
For those of you on Firefox: Go to preferences, then select search from the sidebar.
If you’re using Chrome you can install DDG as well, but then again, using Chrome means your data is leaking back to Google in other ways. Browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Brave are good places to go if you’re wanting something that has stricter privacy policies.
If you are medium-weird like me you can replicate this process on your smartphone and tablets so that you have DDG everywhere. Here is a good place to start with doing that.
A couple really useful features to try out with DuckDuckGo
Search time in DDG and you can open multiple times for projects you’re working on. I love this!
DuckDuckGo has something called !bangs which are basically shortcuts to bigger searches. So instead of typing in Wikipedia and then going to that webpage and searching for your item you can type !w + your search term and DDG will take you right to that page on Wikipedia. You can do this with Amazon, Twitter, Yelp and tons more.
You can also do math in the search bar or use the calculator. Trust me, I use this one a lot.
It also has a maps feature that uses Apple Maps (which also don’t track) and Yelp built-in.
Finally, if this isn’t enough you can go much deeper with Brett Terpstra’s posts on how to “Learn the syntax of DuckDuckGo” – Link
To me, it may seem a minor thing, but by using DDG for all my searches and using a browser like Firefox or Safari, I’ve already made two steps towards being in better control of my data and privacy. In this day and age, this will be part of what we have to pay attention to. I’m glad for services like DDG for making this as painless as possible.
A reader pointed out that I didn’t give my opinion about the search results. The short answer is, I am very satisfied with the results. In fact, I unplugged from google search so long ago that I don’t even think about search results at this point, nor do I compare them. Everything seems to work as it should. That’s not to say I shouldn’t check from time to time but I just don’t even think about it anymore.
This runs into another important way that DDG is different from google, as it says on its Wikipedia page, it helps you “avoid the filter bubble of personalized search results.” DDG aims to give everyone the same results, and those results, in their mind are meant to be the best result to the search query. It’s a different philosophy that underlies a different way to develop technology. In this case, I appreciate that approach and I find that it works as intended.