If privacy is what you're after, and you want to get away from using Google, DuckDuckGo will get you a lot of what you need. But the results aren't as relevant or robust, so you may not always find exactly what you're looking for.
At the same time, many people may be opting to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing for web searches, likely because the lesser-known search engine does not collect user data or track what you search.
DuckDuckGo has seen more than 4 million users install its apps and browser extensions, making it their default search engine, and the service recently surpassed 100 million daily searches.
Here's how to switch to — and use — DuckDuckGo.
How to add DuckDuckGo to your browser
If you simply want to try out DuckDuckGo, type duckduckgo.com into your browser address bar and enter your search query. Use it for a while and see if you like it. Once you're ready to make the switch, you can either select DuckDuckGo as your default search engine or add the appropriate app or extension to your browser.
Adding DuckDuckGo to Chrome
Chrome users have two options for using DuckDuckGo on the desktop. The simplest option, if you're looking only for the private search function, is to make DuckDuckGo the default search engine.
Go to Settings (the three vertical dots at the top right of your browser bar) > Search engine > Manage search engine. Click the vertical dots next to DuckDuckGo and select Make default. This will make DuckDuckGo the default search engine in your address search bar as well.
An alternative for extra privacy is to install the DuckDuckGo Chrome extension. This will block hidden trackers and connect you to encrypted versions of websites if available.
If you change your mind about DuckDuckGo, both the default setting and the browser extension can be disabled in your Chrome browser settings.
Adding DuckDuckGo to Firefox
To make DuckDuckGo your default search engine in Firefox, toggle open the Settings options with the three horizontal lines to the far right of your address bar. Click Preferences and open the Default Search Engine drop-down menu to select DuckDuckGo. This will change the settings for search in your address bar.
To make DuckDuckGo your homepage in Firefox, drag this link to the Home icon and select Yes in the pop-up window.
Like Chrome, Firefox has an add-on called DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials that has extra privacy features.
Adding DuckDuckGo to other browsers
Safari users can simply tap the magnifying glass in the search bar, which will bring up a drop-down to select the default search engine. You can also add the DuckDuckGo extension from the App Store.
With Brave, open the hamburger menu at the top right and go to Settings > Search Engine. Open the dropdown menu at the top of the page and select DuckDuckGo as your default.
In Edge, click the three horizontal dots (they look like " … ") in the top right and select Settings. On the next page, click the three stacked lines in the top left and select > Privacy, Search and Services.
Scroll all the way down the page and, under the Services heading, click Address Bar and Search. Open the dropdown menu next to Search Engine Used in the Address Bar and select DuckDuckGo. You can also get the Privacy Essentials add-on.
Adding DuckDuckGo on mobile
How to use DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo isn't all that different from any other search engine. Type your query into the search bar and get your results. As with Google, you can narrow your search to images, videos, news, maps and shopping.
DuckDuckGo's results pages look fairly similar to Google's, with knowledge panels, news carousels and related searches. However, you'll get more with Google search results, such as recent tweets, People Also Ask and videos, than you'll get with DuckDuckGo.
Google also returns different, and perhaps more relevant, results, depending on your perspective. When we searched for "Sundance Film Festival," Google's first four results (punctuated by People Also Ask and tweets from @SundanceFest) were from different pages on Sundance.org.
With DuckDuckGo, we got only one link, to the main festival page. The second result was from Wikipedia.
Microsoft's Bing splits the difference between the two, with results similar to DuckDuckGo but more robust knowledge panels.
It's also worth noting that DuckDuckGo uses Apple Maps (with pretty mediocre results) and Yelp reviews. Google obviously shows Google Maps and Google reviews. Bing runs on OpenStreetMap and TripAdvisor.
All that is to say, DuckDuckGo isn't anything special once you get beyond the privacy features.
"I would like to have it on record that I think DuckDuckGo is a crappy search engine, and that makes me a huge hypocrite because Google is a privacy nightmare," says one Tom's Guide staffer. "But damn, DuckDuckGo's results are just awful."