I’ve switched from using Google as my main search engine to using DuckDuckGo. I made the switch when iOS 8 came out.
Yes, sometimes that has problems.
No, the search results aren’t always as good.
Yes, I sometimes fall back to Google.
Yes, I still think it’s worth it.
DuckDuckGo has improved tremendously over the last couple years. I had previously tried it when it was mentioned on Daring Fireball in early 2012. At that time, I felt like the search results left quite a lot to be desired. I gave up on it quickly.
When Apple added it as a “blessed” search provider last year, I tried it again. I haven’t looked back since.
DuckDuckGo promises up front to be “The search engine that doesn’t track you”. This, in and of itself, is reason enough to give it a shot. However, the feature that sold me on DuckDuckGo was its !bang operators.
When searching in DuckDuckGo, you can prefix a search with one of many bang operators. If you do so, DuckDuckGo will then punt your search to that site. For example, if you want to search Amazon for my P311 headphones, you would enter:
You can try it out here. Notice that you’re sent to DuckDuckGo, but then immediately punted to Amazon. Pretty convenient.
There are a bunch of bang operators that I use constantly:
!so— Stack Overflow
!wa— Wolfram Alpha
!m— Google Maps
!gf— Google Finance
The list goes on and on. But perhaps most importantly, if I ever need to fall back to Google:
!i— Google Images
If I’m doing a search in DuckDuckGo and I’m not satisfied with the results, I just prefix
!g to the search query, and I get the Google results I’m used to.
As an added benefit, DuckDuckGo does as much as possible to prevent your data from leaking
to advertisers via Google. Instead of sending you to
www.google.com, you’re sent to
encrypted.google.com. This has several benefits, most notably, preventing
advertisers (and destination sites) from seeing what you’ve searched for.
That being said, I don’t have to fall back to Google that terribly often. You’d be surprised how great DuckDuckGo’s results are these days.
DuckDuckGo also supports my most frequently used query modifier:
site:. This allows
me to limit a search to just one site, such as this one. There are plenty of other
modifiers to use, too.
DuckDuckGo may or may not be for you, but I really like it, and I’m using it on all my devices. In the rare moments I’m using Chrome, or if I’m on someone else’s computer, I feel completely crippled now. Without my !bang operators, I’m completely useless.
Yes, I use Google Apps for my domain for e-mail. Yes, I see the hypocrisy here. No, I don’t care. ↩