How to Use DuckDuckGo in 2023 [Private & Free Search Engine]

Key Takeaways: Guide to Using DuckDuckGo

  • There are several ways to use DuckDuckGo, including the desktop app, mobile app and Chrome extension. 
  • DuckDuckGo search is a bare-bones service, making it easy to navigate. 
  • You can set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine through your web browser’s settings or the DuckDuckGo extension. The extension will make DuckDuckGo your default search engine once you add it in Chrome.

DuckDuckGo is one of the best private search engines because it provides a high level of privacy while being simple to use. It focuses more on privacy than features, which makes it easy to navigate. In this guide, we’ll show you how to use DuckDuckGo to keep your web searches private. 

DuckDuckGo Search has been around for a long time. It’s one of the few search engines that does not track your search history. Almost every other search engine will track the web pages you visit and use this information to filter results and create targeted ads. While this makes it possible for users to get customized search results, it means companies like Google and Microsoft — not to mention third parties — have your sensitive personal data. 

DuckDuckGo keeps your search history private at the cost of personalized search and speed. Not only does it not spy on you, but it also prevents other websites from snooping by blocking their hidden trackers. DuckDuckGo does not collect any information that can reveal your identity. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to search using different DuckDuckGo products, including its privacy-focused search engine, browser and extension. To learn more about DuckDuckGo and the different features it offers, you can read our What is DuckDuckGo guide. 

How to Use DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo works like most search engines — you enter a search query into the search bar and a list of search results pops up on the page. You can use the tools below the search bar to search different data sets, including images, videos, news and maps. 

A hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) located at the top-right corner of the screen allows you to download DuckDuckGo for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows and as a browser extension. You can also download themes and access DuckDuckGo’s social media accounts. 

Below the search bar, you’ll see links to the DuckDuckGo web browser for Windows and the DuckDuckGo Chrome extension. 

use duck screenshot

Clicking a hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) opens a menu containing DuckDuckGo application downloads, its social media accounts and resources to learn more about the browser.

How to Set DuckDuckGo as Your Default Search Engine

Setting DuckDuckGo as your default search engine eliminates the need to visit the DuckDuckGo website every time you want to use it. You can do this by making a few changes in your browser settings. For this guide, we’ll use the Google Chrome browser to demonstrate the process. 

  1. Open Your Browser

    DuckDuckGo can be set as the default search engine on most popular web browsers, so it’s highly likely that you will be able to do so on the web browser you use.

    use duck chrome

  2. Open Chrome’s “Customize and Control” Menu

    Click the “customize and control” menu icon (represented by three vertical dots at the top-right corner). This will open a list of options for navigating Chrome. Hit “settings.” 

    use duck settings

  3. Click “Search Engine”

    We’re using Chrome, but almost all browsers divide their preferences menus into tabs like this. Find the one relevant to search engines.

    use duck engine

  4. Select DuckDuckGo

    On the search engine page, click the dropdown menu beside the text “search engine used in the address bar” and select “DuckDuckGo”  from the list of search engine options. This will set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.

    use duck select

How to Get the DuckDuckGo Browser Extension

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension is available for several browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox. We’ll show you how to use the browser extension in Chrome. It’s not that different from how you’d do it on other browsers. 

When you add the browser extension in Chrome, DuckDuckGo becomes your default search engine — the one used to make searches you type into the upper bar. The extension also blocks hidden trackers on websites you visit and secures your connection when you visit a website over an unencrypted protocol. 

  1. Visit the Google Chrome Web Store

    Open your Google Chrome browser. Click the “customize and control” tool (represented by three vertical dots) at the top-right corner of the screen. Place your cursor on the “extensions” pane and select “visit Chrome Web Store” to open the Chrome Web Store.

    use duck visit

  2. Search for the DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension

    Type “DuckDuckGo” into the search tab on the extensions page and press “enter.” The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension will appear at the top of the page.

    use duck search

  3. Download the Extension

    Click the DuckDuckGo extension to open it, then click “add to Chrome.” A pop-up will appear and ask you to confirm if you want to add the extension to Chrome. Click “add extension” to confirm. Once you do this, your default search engine will change to DuckDuckGo.

    use duck download

How to Install the DuckDuckGo Browser

The DuckDuckGo web browser is also a privacy-focused service. It doesn’t collect your browsing data or track what you search for online. It serves you local search results based solely on your search queries and keeps your search history private. 

DuckDuckGo recently released a beta version of the browser for Windows, making it available across all major operating systems, including iOS, Android and macOS. 

We’ll demonstrate how to install it using the Windows browser.

  1. Search for the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser

    Open your browser and enter “DuckDuckGo browser” in the search bar. The DuckDuckGo website should be the first result on the page. Click the “Windows” sub-page directly below the DuckDuckGo homepage. Once the page opens, the DuckDuckGo app installer will be downloaded to your device.

    use duck search bar

  2. Navigate to the DuckDuckGo App Installer Folder

    Click the “download” icon at the top-right corner of the screen and place your cursor over the DuckDuckGo app installer you downloaded. Click “show in folder” to navigate to the app installer folder on your device.

    use duck app installer

  3. Install DuckDuckGo

    Once the location of the app installer opens, double-click the folder and click “install” to install the DuckDuckGo app. The installation will take a few minutes. Once complete, the browser will open and you can start browsing.

    use duck install

How to Use DuckDuckGo on Mobile

The mobile app’s search result page has a similar layout to the desktop browser. You can view different content formats of the search results, including images, videos, news and maps. We’ll demonstrate the use of DuckDuckGo on mobile using an Android device.

  1. Find DuckDuckGo on the Google Play Store

    DuckDuckGo has a Google Play Store app. Open Google Play on your Android device and search for the DuckDuckGo app, then click “install.” 

    use duck play

  2. Open the App

    Once the installation is complete, click “open” to launch the app. The DuckDuckGo mobile browser is a bare-bones service. The only features on the browser homepage are an address bar, a tool for clearing all open tabs and the tabs icon. The three vertical dots let you access your bookmarks, downloads, logins and the browser settings.

    use duck open

Final Thoughts

There are several ways to use the DuckDuckGo browser. You can visit the website, add the extension or download the DuckDuckGo privacy browser app that’s compatible with your device. 

If you don’t want to use the DuckDuckGo apps, add the DuckDuckGo extension to your favorite browser. This makes DuckDuckGo your default search engine. 

Have you used DuckDuckGo? How do you use it? Did you run into any issues while trying to use it? Let us know in the comment section below, and as always, thanks for reading.