DuckDuckGo: A Search Engine With A Twist

Search engines come. Search engines go. Remember Cuil? And when was the last time you used Lycos?

While Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are arguably the leaders in search, there are literally dozens of search engines out there. Many of those engines track your search history and, based on that history, put you in what’s been called a “search filter bubble”.

Enter DuckDuckGo. It’s not your average search engine. Not only does it maintain your privacy, it also has a number of nifty features that make the search engine more useful.

Let’s take a closer look at DuckDuckGo.

If you want to do a search, just head over to DuckDuckGo. Its front page looks a bit like Google, doesn’t it? Very minimal, very uncluttered, and very easy to understand.

DuckDuckGo front page

Just type what you want to find — for example, MakeTechEasier — in the search box. Then, press Enter.

DuckDuckGo search results

OK, nothing you haven’t seen before. But take a look to the right of the results. Notice the list of Search ideas? They apply additional criteria to your search. Click one of the search ideas, say +Tutorials and you get a more focused version of your search.

For the techie (or techie wannabe), there are also tech-related utilities that do more complex calculations, offer useful computing tools — like a whois search and a password generator – and links to cheatsheets.

But DuckDuckGo does more than search. It has a number of nifty utilities that you might find handy. Click Goodies on the main page. On the Goodies page, you can:

  • Do mathematical calculations
  • Perform conversions
  • Find a list of DuckDuckGo keyboard shortcuts
  • Get weather information

And a lot more.

Useful DuckDuckGo utilities

You can also change a large number of settings. Click Settings on the main page. There are settings for how DuckDuckGo handles results, for tightening your privacy options, and for changing the look and feel of the front page.

DuckDuckGo settings

The settings are easy to change. Select an option from one of the many drop-down lists on the Settings page, and then click the Click here to save and go back link at the bottom of the page.

No, MakeTechEasier isn’t trying to shoot you. Using DuckDuckGo’s !Bang feature, you can essentially combine two steps into one: go to a particular site and automatically search for a keyword.

How does it work? Say you want to search Barnes & Noble for a book on WordPress. Just type !bn wordpress in the search box and press Enter. You automagically jump to the Barnes & Noble site and results matching your query appear.

There are !Bangs for over 100 sites. You can find a list of those sites here. The great thing about using a !Bang is that it saves you time. Depending on the site, though, the results may or may not be what you’re after.

If you don’t care about your search results being highly personalized, then you should definitely give DuckDuckGo a close look. You still get great results but with less spam and you don’t have to worry about being trapped in a search filter bubble. On top of that, DuckDuckGo’s other features and functions make it even more useful.

Photo credit: DarkSide