Some people like the idea that everything you do online is cataloged because that means you get 100% personalized offers when you watch YouTube, scroll through Facebook, or search online. On the flip side, there are a lot of people out there who definitely don’t like all of this customization. Getting watched by a so-called digital Big Brother, to the point where every ad and offer you see relates exactly to something you were looking for, can give people goosebumps. And aside from feeling overly guarded, it can also make users feel that their security is at risk.
Enter navigation without a plotter from DuckDuckGo, a simple search engine with one main goal: to keep you as anonymous as possible when you are online.
DuckDuckGo is a pretty minimalistic search engine (that’s the point), but it has a handful of features and settings that can help you customize it. Basically, the settings allow you to adjust the way pages appear, like whether or not you want to see page numbers, for example. You can also customize the settings for the following:
- Automatic entry
- Opening links
- Search by region
- Safe search to omit adult material
There are also a lot of appearance settings to change like alignment, colors, font, font size, page width, etc. If you do a lot of research online, it is a nice option.
Moreover, you can save your settings in the cloud for easy application in the future. This is useful if you want to use DuckDuckGo on multiple computers and browsers or if you want to use different themes for different purposes. For example, maybe you like working with a light theme but browsing articles with a dark theme, or you have different settings depending on whether kids or adults are using the browser.
Fringe are DuckDuckGo shortcuts that provide search results from other sites, like Amazon or Wikipedia. For example, if you want to search for records on Amazon, you would enter “a! vinyl ”- the a! tells DuckDuckGo that you want to search Amazon. Be aware, however, that DuckDuckGo cannot protect your privacy if you search these other sites; your information will be subject to the policies of that search engine.
DuckDuckGo’s whole argument is that it’s a safe search engine to use and that you can search online without worrying about being tracked. They do not store personal information and do not follow you with advertisements. According to the website, “We are not following you. Already.”
DuckDuckGo’s products also offer site encryption. Additionally, the privacy level tells you if a site is trustworthy before and after DuckDuckGo applies its privacy protection.
You don’t have to do anything for these privacy features to work. They’re all built-in and ready to go the moment you start using DuckDuckGo. The privacy settings you can change are minimal.
Since using the Safari browser, I had customized the “Add DuckDuckGo to Safari” buttons on just about every page of their website (then adapted for Chrome when I visited the site using this Navigator). This completely took the guesswork out of how to find and download the right version for my computer.
After clicking the button to add it, I got a pop-up with the steps to set DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. It’s super easy – on Safari, you just need to click the magnifying glass in the search bar, then choose DuckDuckGo from the drop-down menu.
When you download the app for Mac, you need to enable the features in your browser. The app will explain how to do this. You don’t even have to find the menus in your browser’s preferences – DuckDuckGo opens them for you.
Other than that, searching with DuckDuckGo is the same as with any other search engine – you enter a word or phrase, hit search and it does its job. The mobile app is particularly pleasant to use, however. The duck mascot appears with chat bubbles to show you around the app, and everything is fast and smooth.
DuckDuckGo has two options for using it:
Browser extension – If your only concern is to enable private search, all you need to do is enable DuckDuckGo as the default search engine in your browser.
Application – If you want more privacy then you will want to download and install the app. This blocks hidden trackers and connects you to the encrypted version of a website (if available).
If you want to use DuckDuckGo on your mobile device, there is also an app for that.
DuckDuckGo’s search results don’t look as good as Google’s. Compare the two below:
It shouldn’t be too disappointing, however. When I played around with searching for similar keywords (like “Beach Boys albums” I got richer results from DuckDuckGo, similar to what I saw on Google and Yahoo the first time around.
We love what DuckDuckGo strives for – worry-free anonymity and online security. And the fact that the search engine has limited options is not a problem; instead, it’s a nice change to be able to download, customize, and start using software in under 30 minutes. While search results may not always appear as busy and dynamic as on other search engines, the information returned to you is often just as complete and reliable. What’s more, we can’t help but be wowed by the mobile app, which, in addition to being secure, is ultra-light and fast.
You can also read our article on how to protect your inbox from tracker emails using DuckDuckGo.