I’ve already documented the biggest reason to switch to DuckDuckGo in the previous article. While their superb privacy and do-not-track policies are great, what sealed the deal for me were !bangs. These little modifier search keywords are really helpful if you know exactly what you’re looking for. For example, !a will search directly in Amazon.

If you want to know more about !bangs and DDG in general, you should read that article first.

Google to DuckDuckGo

Today, I’ll be talking about the process of finally ditching Google and moving on to DuckDuckGo. Sadly, it’s not as easy as flicking a switch. But the couple of minutes you spend on setting everything up will surely be worth it.

Switch the Default Search Engine

In Chrome: Surprise, surprise. Google doesn’t really make it easy to switch the default search engine to DuckDuckGo.

Get started by going to DuckDuckGo’s website and clicking the Set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine option.

DuckDuckGo Chrome Start

From the popup, click the Here button to add DDG as a search engine in Chrome.

DDG Chrome 2

Now, click the Hamburger menu button in Chrome, go to Settings -> Search and click Manage Search Engines. From here, find the entry that DuckDuckGo made. And beside it, click the Make Default button.

DuckDuckGo Chrome

If for some reason DDG isn’t able to add the entry, you can do it manually by typing in DuckDuckGo in the first box, duckduckgo.com in the second box and https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s in the third.

DDG Chrome

In Safari: Apple has officially added DuckDuckGo as one of the supported search engines. That means doing this in Safari is really easy. In OS X, just go to Preferences -> Search and from the Search engine dropdown, select DuckDuckGo.

Safari DuckDuckGo

In iOS, it’s as simple as going to Settings > Safari > Search Engine, and selecting DuckDuckGo.

In Android: Chrome for Android, unfortunately, doesn’t let you add a third party search engine and DuckDuckGo isn’t on their default list. To get around that, you can use DuckDuckGo’s Android app that can replace Google Now’s swipe up from Home gesture.

How to Try it in Chrome Before Switching

If you’re not ready to switch to DDG just yet but do want to see what the hoopla is all about, there are two ways to go about it.

The easiest route is to install the DuckDuckGo extension. Click on it to perform searches directly to DDG. The extension will also infuse DDG Instant Answers and information boxes in Google searches.

The second option is to add DDG as a search engine (as I’ve shown above), give the keyword DDG and don’t make it a default. Now, just type DDG in the Omnibox, hit space, enter the term and you’ll be searching in DDG instead.

Search for (and Submit) Bangs

!bangs are the best thing about DDG, no doubt. And chances are, if a website is popular enough, it’s got a bang. There are a couple of ways to find out.

First, go to DDG’s !bangs page, scroll down and you’ll see a whole list of them. There are thousands. Either browse through or use the search button and enter a website’s name.

DDG Bangs List

Another much simpler way is to just go to DDG’s homepage, type in ! followed by the website’s name (no spaces in between).

Now, it might happen that your favorite website doesn’t have a !bang. In that case, it’s easy to take matters in your own hands. Just go to this page, fill in the relevant details and submit the request. A DDG mod will go over it and if everything’s all right, the request will be approved.

Just as Bangs, you can also contribute to DDG by coding up Instant Answers.

How to Fall Back to Google Search

It’s going to happen. Maybe a bit too often than you like. When a DDG search isn’t doing it for you, all you need to do is go to the search field, type in “!g” and press enter. Presto! The same search query will load up in Google’s encrypted search page.

DDG Google bang

If you’re more of a mouse man, this Chrome extension puts handy links to open the current search query in Google and Bing.

Master the Keyboard Shortcuts

DDG supports keyboard shortcuts and some of them are really useful. For instance, just pressing Enter after the search page has loaded will immediately open the first result.

Use the up and down arrow keys to move between search results. The left/right arrow keys will move you between different Instant Answers tabs (like images and videos). Forward slash (/) will take you to the search box (helpful for quickly typing up the !g bang) and t will take you to the top of the page. A full list of keyboard shortcuts is available here.

More DuckDuckGo Tips and Tricks

Customize the UI: Click the hamburger menu from a DDG page, go to Settings and then Theme to switch to a whole different DDG look. From the Appearance tab, you can even change things like the font, font size, link colors and a lot more.

DuckDuckGo Themes

Privacy Settings: DDG doesn’t track you online by default so there aren’t many privacy settings to be disabled here. Although, you can turn on the Redirect option that will hide the exact search term from the website you ultimately clicked on. Also, make sure the HTTPS setting is turned on.

DDG Privacy

General Settings: The General tab has some interesting settings. You can change your region and preferred unit system. But there’s also an option to completely disable ads if you want (these ads don’t track you online and help support DDG). Plus there’s the usual stuff like safe search, auto-load and more.

That’s it from my end. If you’ve been using DuckDuckGo, do share some of your favorite !bangs and Instant Answers in the comments below.


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is a freelance technology writer. He's always trying out new apps, tools and services. He is platform agnostic. You'll find an iPhone 5 and a OnePlus One on him at (almost) all times.