Get A Better Search Experience With Duck Duck Go

Danny Stieben 26-12-2011

duck duck goIf you’ve been following my latest articles, you might have noticed that I mentioned Duck Duck Go a couple times. It seems that there are a couple of services and Linux distributions (such as Linux Mint) that are switching over to Duck Duck Go as their default search engine.


So why the heck are they doing this? Isn’t Google a mile ahead of every other search engine? Well, not exactly.

About Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck Go puts a lot of emphasis on a few goals that Google simply cannot. Duck Duck Go’s primary reasons for existing is to be a free, open source search engine that is privacy aware by not tracking you. This way, websites cannot identify you, and you get true search results that aren’t modified to fit your personality and searching habits.

Additionally, Duck Duck Go presents those search results in a very unique way that I find to be more intuitive than how Google shows results. Pack in some handy extras, and you got yourself a winner.

The Site

duck duck go
When you first reach the site, you’ll see a logo, the search box, and a few helpful links. That’s it. No bar running across the top of the page, nothing. In other words, it feels very clean and uncluttered, even when compared to Google which is relatively uncluttered already.

Search Results

duck duck go search
When you go ahead and actually enter in a search term, you’ll be greeted by an even cleaner search results page. Depending on the search term, you’ll see a few things displayed that aren’t shown on Google, such as a definition or general information about whatever you searched from Wikipedia, links labeled as the official site, and more. On the right you can also get a few search ideas where, if you click on one, it’ll add that term to what you were searching for and shows you the new results. Oh, and I must say, I’m pretty happy with the results that come back, unlike other search engines.



duck duck go search
Great, so your privacy is protected and you get back some interesting search results. Plenty of people would be happy with that and call it a day, but the creators behind Duck Duck Go didn’t. If you ever go to the settings page, you’ll see exactly why. There are plenty of result settings, privacy settings, color settings, look and feel settings, and interface settings. Simply put, you can change just about anything you want to, which is quite impressive.

Alternative Pages

duck duck go search
Duck Duck Go’s primary page uses JavaScript to run, but the site also offers a version that uses only HTML as well as a “lite” version. The “lite” version is pretty self-explanatory, while the 100% HTML page is most useful to those who decided to disable JavaScript in their browser for whatever reason.

Useful Keywords

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Last but not least, there are a few tricks that you can use in your search query to get certain results. Duck Duck Go allows the use of certain keywords and “!bang syntax” to get specific results. For example, if you type in “weather new york city”, you’ll get the current weather conditions and forecast for New York City at the very top of your results page. If you type in “!youtube linux”, Duck Duck Go will automatically redirect you to the YouTube results page for the term Linux. You can also do much more such as calculations, search for time-sensitive items, and more. You can find a full list of possible keywords here.


Duck Duck Go is the result of a great idea that seems to be getting some momentum. I do hope that this project can become a player in the search engine market and give us a little freedom from Google. However, Duck Duck Go is well developed as it is right now, and I’ll surely be using it in the near future.


What do you think about Duck Duck Go? Which search engine do you prefer now (or still prefer)? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Online Privacy, Web Search.

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  1. Hughy
    July 8, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    I use ..........but I think even though it's a good meta search engine you can select 4 to 5 regular search engines to use in its meta search once selected in settings...............?

  2. Scutterman
    December 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    In all things in life, I follow the money. If you can't see where the money is, then you can't trust it. Cynical, I know, but it's served me well so far.

    All I can see is a single ad on each search result page, and without tracking users they can't target the ads.

    So, unless I'm missing something, where's the money? How do they keep going?

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Donations to the cause of privacy-focused searches? That's my number one possible reason.

    • Nostromov
      January 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      @Scutterman (from 2011..:)) && how about YouTube, then?! Countless (?) terabytes of data, stored and served each second (?!); "[..] where’s the money" 4 that, 2, then? =)

  3. Andrei
    December 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Danny, maybe it would have been worth to insist more on the trade-off between privacy and features here.

    1. In order to apply the setting DDG needs (obviously) to create a cookie as soon as you customise the settings. They give you no warning when they do so, though the whole process is clearly explained on their website.

    2. They claim that the cookie does not create a unique code. It is however true (statistically speaking) that some combinations of setting will be extremely rare. If there are a lot of possible settings (and DDG has a lot) it will almost work as a unique code.

    3. the above can do little harm if no part of the IP is stored. We have their promise they do not do so. However, as they clearly state, servers tend to save this data by design. They have turned it off, but there is little way of knowing how hard would it be for a rogue employee to turn it back on.

    4. as an exception to 3, it would be quite easy to create a unique cookie to replace the DDG cookie using some malware code to generate an extremely improbable combination of features.

    This is not meant to diminish the efforts of DDG. It should be still possible to customise DDG with just a few URL parameters and enjoy privacy and customization at the same time. But the cookie model is by itself unsecure. I feel that DDG should be more clear about this is they feel they are in the privacy business. The only way to have privacy with cookies is... to delete them regularly.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      Great explanation, Andrei. There's always a way around those measures, it seems.

  4. Espen Meidell
    December 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I like Duck Duck Go, in my experience you usually get more relevant hits than you do with Google. 

  5. Nomad63
    December 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Oh the humanity... I was surprised to launch firefox under Linux mint and without even looking at the default search engine selection (this is firefox after all, what else can it be other than google was the thinking I had) I hit ctrl-k and typed few keywords. Voila, the most irrelevant search results came back, likes of bing or god forbid Yahoo!. Needless to say, I will have to change the default search engine one of these days but I am not using that machine enough to pay more attention to it. 
    Yes, privacy is a good thing but whan I a searching for a technical article or a how-to, I don't care if google is tracking me. Without their help, my name is plastered all over the web in a certain subject matter. Why would I care ? Oh yes if you are going to search bomb-making, you might use a web search engine who is "supposedly" not tracking you, but at the same time, don't let it explode while you are building it, using questionable instruction set from an inferior search engine.
    Let's get over it already. By using web, you have given up your privacy card, no matter what you do. Why make life more difficult ? After all, you have to trust somebody. Living all your life in paranoia and under the tin foil, is not the way to live in my opinion. If I am going to trust one web entity, I'd like it to be Google over Facebooks and linked ins and Micro$ofts. 

    • Greg
      December 27, 2011 at 12:06 am

      Couldn't agree more!

    • Michel
      December 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Yes, Google offers great products free, and yes, the internet is always a public space. But for me, supporting a giant corporation which is effectively the largest pirate on the net, is inconceivable. I'm an author, a signatory to the suit against google, and I encourage everyone who values fair play to boycott Google. It doesn't make life more difficult to change your default search engine.

      • Danny Stieben
        December 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm

        Google sure is making it hard to not use one of their services while on the web, aren't they?

      • Rudolf Hucker
        February 24, 2018 at 2:36 pm

        Totally support you Michel !

  6. Kyes731
    December 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I've been using Ecosia lately.  "Ecosia is a green search engine that donates 80% of its revenue to the protection of the rain forest".   To date they have donated 752,311.96 (as of 2:00 PM EST 12/26/2011)  They have a learn more link on their home page.  While lean and clean is nice, if I can do any small part to help the environment - such as my Striiv pedometer that makes donations to several causes based on my distance walked - I'm more than happy to assist.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Sounds like a nice project, looking for services that donate to causes if you use them.

  7. Jj
    December 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    softwares when they comeout, are swift, clean and friendly.. But ovrrtime, producers become greedy and start to add things and remove.

  8. Cell Travis
    December 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I've been using Duck Duck Go for about a year now, alongside the Big G. Other than Duck Duck Go, another search engine worth a try is Helioid. For privacy, I prefer to use SRWare Iron with Iron-Start as the default search engine.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Cell Travis!