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How to Use DuckDuckGo in 2022: Anonymize Your Searches

Google is the most popular search engine in the world, but it doesn't have a great track record when it comes to privacy. In this article we’ll show you how to use DuckDuckGo, a private search engine that doesn’t track your search history.

Max Pitchkites
By Max Pitchkites (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-05-08T07:32:55+00:00

DuckDuckGo Search is a private search engine that doesn’t track your search history. Most other search engines save your web searches in a profile that the company uses to filter results based on your activity to create targeted ads. While many find this useful, it’s still a form of tracking and comes at the cost of privacy. In this article, we’ll show you how to use DuckDuckGo and avoid online tracking while you search.

Key Takeaways:

  • DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t collect your search history or personally identifiable data.
  • You can search with DuckDuckGo as a web page, as an extension for your browser or as a mobile app.
  • Most major browsers offer the option to set DuckDuckGo as your browser’s default search engine.
  • DuckDuckGo is not owned by Google, Bing or any other search company.

DuckDuckGo’s appeal lies in its simplicity and privacy. It’s a basic search engine that forgoes personalization in favor of privacy by refraining from tracking everything you’ve searched for online. With DuckDuckGo, you won’t have to worry about being spied on every time you search for something.

DuckDuckGo explains in its privacy policies that the only data it collects is aggregate data that can’t be used to track down the identities of individual users. 

Furthermore, it doesn’t store your IP address or unique user agent strings, and it relies on locally available browser data to provide relevant ads and search results. Even local search results don’t involve the company storing your IP address in its servers.

  • It’s simple — all you have to do is go to duckduckgo.com to search privately. Alternatively, you can download the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app if you prefer to search on a mobile device.

  • You can use DuckDuckGo with any browser, but it’s best to use a browser that supports the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension. Firefox and all Chromium-based browsers are compatible with the DuckDuckGo extension.

  • No, DuckDuckGo’s website owners are independent and not affiliated with Google, Bing or any other major search engine. However, Google does offer statistics about DuckDuckGo in Google Analytics, which designated the private search engine as an organic source of traffic instead of a referral in 2019.

  • Visit duckduckgo.com and type your search query into the search box. The web page will immediately return search results that are based solely on your keywords, rather than personal data collected by the search engine.

How to Use DuckDuckGo With a Browser

There are many ways to privately search with DuckDuckGo. For example, you can enter your search queries at duckduckgo.com, make it your web browser’s default search engine or use a browser extension. If you prefer to search anonymously on mobile, you can download the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android or iOS.

ddg browser
Choose DuckDuckGo over some other search engine if you want to keep your search history private. Just enter your query and click the magnifying glass to see the results.

How to Set DuckDuckGo as Your Default Search Engine

The address bar in most browsers doubles as a search bar. Most browsers are configured to return Google searches by default, but depending on which browser you’re using, you can manually set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.

How to Get the DuckDuckGo Google Chrome Extension

There are thousands of browser extensions to choose from in Chrome’s web store, and DuckDuckGo is among them. The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension does a few different things to preserve your privacy.

ddg chrome
The DuckDuckGo extension assesses the privacy posture of every site you visit and assigns a privacy grade.

It will set your browser’s default search engine and homepage to DuckDuckGo, block trackers and default to encrypted HTTPS connections when available.

  1. Go to the Chrome Web Store

    Visit the Chrome Web Store to view Google’s full library of extensions.

    chrome web store
  2. Look for the DuckDuckGo Extension

    Search for DuckDuckGo. The DuckDuckGo extension should be the first result. Click DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials and you will be brought to the extension’s web page, where there will be more information about the extension.

    chrome web store search
  3. Download the Extension

    Click “add to Chrome.” This button will add the extension to your browser.

    chrome web store ddg
  4. Add the Extension to Your Browser

    Click “add extension.” A window will appear with information about the extension’s functionality and permissions. Click “add extension” to install DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials on your browser.

    chrome web store ddg add

After a few seconds, the extension will be added to your browser. You can view DuckDuckGo’s privacy score for the site you’re visiting by opening the extension. It assesses the level of privacy of every website you visit and assigns a rating based on criteria such as the availability of HTTPS, the presence of hidden trackers and the website’s known privacy practices.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials is but one of the many privacy extensions you can add to your browser. Check out our article on the best privacy extensions for Google Chrome for more information, and our article on 99 free privacy tools if you want to go even further.

How to Get the DuckDuckGo Firefox Add-On

The same extension is available as a Firefox add-on. Since Firefox is based on Mozilla’s own browser engine instead of Chromium, you’ll have to visit the Firefox add-ons library to add DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials to your browser.

  1. Go to Firefox Browser Add-Ons

    Visit the Firefox add-on page to view Firefox’s complete library of extensions.

    firefox add ons
  2. Search for DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

    The search tab is located in the top-right corner of the page. Type “DuckDuckGo” and press enter. Choose DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials, which will be the top result. Click on it to visit the extension’s web page.

    firefox search
  3. Add the Extension to Firefox

    Click “add to Firefox.” Here, you can read more about DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.

    firefox ddg
  4. Add the Extension to Firefox

    A window will inform you about the extension’s permissions and capabilities. Click “add” to install it into your browser. The extension will be added to Firefox in a few seconds and the changes will take effect immediately.

    firefox ddg permission

The next time you enter a search query in the search bar, you will see search results from DuckDuckGo. Your new tab page will likewise be configured with DuckDuckGo as the default search engine instead of Google. It works just like the Chrome version above.

How to Use DuckDuckGo on Mobile

If you prefer to browse the internet on your phone, you can search with DuckDuckGo by going to the web page from your mobile browser. There won’t be much of a difference between using an Android browser like Chrome or Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari if you have an iPhone. Be sure to read our Safari vs Chrome guide to learn how the two compare.

You can also download the DuckDuckGo app. The app is more than just a search engine because it’s a complete mobile browser.

ddg mobile app
The DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser is available for Android and iOS.

The extension is not available for mobile devices because the app already includes the same capabilities, plus a few extra features. Most notably, the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser includes a “fire” button that will clear all tabs and browser data from your device.

fire button wikipedia
Regularly wiping your browser data will reduce the amount of personal information websites can collect from you.

You can “fireproof” your favorite websites by adding them to the fireproof list, which will clear all other sites of saved data except those on the list. Data saved to your browser including cookies will be retained, so you will remain signed into your favorite sites and services.

How to Get DuckDuckGo on iOS & Android

Adding DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials to your Android device is simple, as we’ll demonstrate in the following guide. Downloading the app for the iPhone follows approximately the same steps, except you would download the app from the Apple app store instead of Google Play.

  1. Go to the Google Play Store

    Android devices should have the Google Play Store app installed by default. Open it and search for “DuckDuckGo.”

    google play store facebook
  2. Install the App on Your Device

    Press “install.” If the app is already installed, the button will read “open.” The app will download in a matter of seconds. Once installed, it will be ready to use right away.

    google play ddg

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of DuckDuckGo services and many platforms to use them on. Whether you prefer to surf the web on desktop, mobile, Android or iOS, you will always be able to search privately without fear of being tracked by your search engine. We have a comprehensive guide if you are interested in DuckDuckGo alternatives.

What is your favorite DuckDuckGo service? Do you like using the webpage at duckduckgo.com, or do you prefer the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.