In a world ruled by Google, at least where search is concerned, it’s sometimes hard to imagine a worthy alternative. DuckDuckGo is one website that is trying to offer such an alternative, and if you haven’t heard of it or wonder why you should use it, you can read Danny’s interesting article on DuckDuckGo and how it can provide a better search experience.
As a new user to DuckDuckGo, I’ve discovered it offers some really useful search features, some of which seem to have provided inspiration even to the big boys at Google. If you’re convinced you should give DuckDuckGo a chance, or if you’ve been using it the same as you would use Google, not taking advantage of its cool features, this article is for you.
Get Useful Data Instantly
If you’ve been reading the news last week, you’ve probably heard of Google’s new Knowledge Graph. In a nut shell, Google’s Knowledge Graph gives you instant information about your search query, without you having to click any link. Useful? DuckDuckGo was doing it first. And not only that, if you’re not in the U.S., you can’t even make use of Knowledge Graph yet. With DuckDuckGo, you can have it right now.
That’s not all: If you’re searching for a term that is not as clear cut as “MakeUseOf”, DuckDuckGo will provide all possible options, so you can find specific results for the exact thing you’re looking for. It will even arrange them by categories, to make it easier to find.
This useful feature is probably the best known one on DuckDuckGo, and for good reason. This feature was mentioned briefly in Danny’s article, but let’s take a more in-depth look at it.
There are searches we perform numerous times each day, week and month. For example, I’m always looking for new Firefox add-ons that do specific things. When I do this, I usually type “Firefox Add-ons” in Google, click on the link, and perform another search. True, you can set up shortcuts for this, but with DuckDuckGo, the shortcut is built in.
This search query will take you directly to the Firefox add-on page and perform the requested search. There is a huge list of supported !bangs, and if you can’t find the one you want, you can submit it. Some more useful examples are !gi for Google Images, !bi for Bing Images, !w for Wikipedia, !gmail for your Gmail inbox, !m for Maps, and even !makeuseof for MakeUseOf! The !bangs you use most will appear in the dropdown menu next to the search box, so you don’t have to memorize them.
Is It Raining?
When you travel, or even at home, one important question you need a day-to-day answer to is “is it raining?”. DuckDuckGo can give you a straight answer to that question, along with other weather related questions.
If you need it, you can also get instant information on high and low tides in different places, computer by Wolfram Alpha.
You can even get the current moon phase in your location simply by searching for “moon phase”.
DuckDuckGo offers many useful keyboard shortcuts, the best of which are K and J to browse results and Enter to open a link. There are numerous others: Typing / before your query will open the first result in the preview window, / when on search results will open the search box, s:d “query” will sort your results by date, Ctrl+Enter will open a link in a new tab, and there are many many more.
If you’re a keyboard person, these can turn browsing DuckDuckGo results into a keyboard-only task, no mouse needed.
Everyone knows what a smiley is, but I sometimes find myself a somewhat stumped when facing something like o_0 or >_<. I don’t know, these just weren’t around when I started using emoticons, and I’m never sure I really know what they mean. DuckDuckGo can help you here too, and will offer explanations to some emoticons you search for.
It even recognizes the notorious xD as an emoticons, which Google fails to do.
Like making cocktails? Looking for drink recipes? DuckDuckGo has you covered there too. Simply search for “how to make” the drink of your choice, and DuckDuckGo will spit out a short and concise recipe.
This Is Not All
This is by no means all you can do with DuckDuckGo. There are lots of other goodies you can check out, some of which are also available in Google and Bing, others are not. Since DuckDuckGo is open source, people can write and add plugins for things you will never find on Google, such as xkcd.
Know of other cool features in DuckDuckGo? Let us know what’s good!