Google Search is king. It has many cool features that will wow you, but it’s not your only good option when it comes to search engines.
With (claims of) 100 percent private searches and a goodie bag full of tricks, DuckDuckGo has earned a loyal fan following. It has a few unusual features that even Google doesn’t have. Let’s see how you can put those to work.
Note: We have covered how you can change your browser’s default search engine, in this case to DuckDuckGo.
Search Other Websites from the Address Bar
Yes, you can search the archives of different websites from the address bar in Chrome, Firefox, and other mainstream browsers. But to do that, you’ll need to set up keyword searches first — not if you have set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine. With DuckDuckGo’s awesome !bangs feature, you can jump right in and search many popular websites from the address bar.
For example, to search MakeUseOf, type in !makeuseof (or even better, !muo) followed by your search query and hit Enter. This looks up your search keyword on MakeUseOf and displays the MakeUseOf results page.
Get Cheatsheets for Popular Apps, Services, and Platforms
If you type in the name of a well-known app or even an operating system followed by the word cheatsheet (and hit Enter, of course), you’ll get the relevant cheatsheet right there in DuckDuckGo.
The name of the app/platform that you need to use is a bit tricky though. For example, typing in windows cheatsheet won’t work; you have to be specific. Use windows 10 cheatsheet to get the list of shortcuts for Windows 10. If you’re a Mac user searching for shortcuts: using osx cheatsheet gives you a list of macOS commands alright, but typing in yosemite cheatsheet or el capitan cheatsheet doesn’t work.
Check Whether Websites Are Down
Wondering if Facebook is down for everyone else too? Ask DuckDuckGo is facebook down and get an instant answer.
That’s not the only useful reply from DuckDuckGo that will save you time and a few clicks. With the search engine’s Instant Answers feature, you can even generate strong passwords, expand shortened URLs, and find coupons. If this feature is not working for you, it could be because the Instant Answers button in Settings > General is not set to On.
View Color Codes
Looking up color codes one by one is no fun (hey, that rhymed). For the 256 RGB colors, you don’t have to go after one-off color codes at all. Search for color codes in DuckDuckGo and you get a chart with all the hex color codes matched up with the corresponding colors for easy identification. In short, you get this:
Get HTML Codes As a List
Look up html chars in DuckDuckGo and you’ll get a list of the HTML codes (as well as decimal and hex codes) for various special characters. It’s way easier to copy the right codes from this section than to visit a separate website to copy them, isn’t it?
Switch Text Case
Want a bit of text converted to lowercase? Paste it into DuckDuckGo search, prefix it with the word lowercase and a space, and hit Enter. There you have it — the lowercase version of the text, ready for you to copy-paste elsewhere.
You can replace the trigger word lowercase with uppercase or titlecase and get back the corresponding case-appropriate text.
Generate QR Codes
All caught up? Great! Now, about generating QR codes for any piece of information: it’s super easy with DuckDuckGo. All you have to do is type in qr, followed by, say, the website that you want to get a QR code for, and hit Enter. Handy for using that info on your phone without having to type it all out, right?
Find App Alternatives
If you’re looking for a replacement for, say, Evernote, the quickest way to look up alternatives is via a web search or via AlternativeTo, a crowdsourced platform for app recommendations. You can combine the power of both in DuckDuckGo, like so: search for alternative to evernote. This gives you a card-like view of Evernote alternatives sourced from AlternativeTo in DuckDuckGo.
More Benefits of DuckDuckGo
You can use a custom theme.
You can’t change how Google Search looks (unless you’re adding it as a search engine on your website), but you can customize the look and feel of DuckDuckGo. Go to Settings > Appearance to make that happen. If you don’t want to fiddle with fonts and color codes and such, pick a preset theme from Settings > Theme.
You can turn off ads.
While Google allows you to opt out of targeted ads or control the ads you see, DuckDuckGo lets you turn them off altogether (via Settings > General > Advertisements).
No page switching required.
You can tweak Google Search settings to display more results, but you can’t get past clicking through the pages of the search results, unless you use a browser extension like AutoPagerize. Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo does the page turning for you, which means that you get search results on what seems like one continuous page.
You can read all of XKCD!
Look up xkcd in DuckDuckGo and you get the latest XKCD panel right there above the search results. Don’t miss the Previous, Next, Random, and Explain it! links to dig up more panels without leaving DuckDuckGo.
(For the uninitiated: XKCD is a webcomic drawn just for geeks)
Duck, Duck, Go
As much as you love Google, if you wish we could end Google’s search monopoly, do your bit for the cause by choosing an alternative primary search engine. DuckDuckGo makes a great candidate for that job. If you use it already, see how you can use it better.
Opting for a search engine like DuckDuckGo is a small step toward ditching big business to protect your privacy. Ask yourself what else you can do on that front.
DuckDuckGo: come for the privacy, stay for the bangs https://t.co/1XVQuIlMlz
— Jonathan Reyes (@jreyes33) July 13, 2016
If you’d rather not give up Google Search, but want the benefits of DuckDuckGo as well, set the latter as your default search engine and append !g to keywords that you’d like to look up on Google. This takes you to Google’s search results on an encrypted page via DuckDuckGo.
Don’t forget to tell us your favorite DuckDuckGo trick (and how to make it work). The lesser known the better!