DuckDuckGo is a popular internet search engine that is privacy-focused and ad-free. It is widely recommended by security professionals, blogs, armchair experts, because it does not profile users or harvest their data.
I should tell you this straightaway, this article is not about the search engine’s privacy related features, but as the title reads, how to use the service more efficiently.
That said, here’s a brief introduction about DDG (as its abbreviated). The search provider hit a milestone in January of this year, as it reached 100 Million search queries on a single day.
So why isn’t DuckDuckGo used as much as Google, or even Bing? Short answer, marketing. Google and Microsoft with their endless resources promote their search engine in various ways, and it pays off. Their biggest strength is that their search engine is set as the default one in the stock browser, i.e. Microsoft Edge in Windows 10, and Google Chrome on Android. The companies also have various partnerships with popular device manufacturers and organizations, to make their search engine the default in the third-party products, e.g. Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox. That’s the reason why the search engine that protects personal information is often overlooked.
You may not know this, but nearly every browser allows you to change the default search engine with a couple of clicks. Head to the settings, and you can switch to DuckDuckGo as the default search app in a flash, as it is an option in many. Or just install the official add-on, and it let it do the job for you.
Why do more people not use DDG if it is so secure? The reason I mentioned above is a major factor, but there are others. Search results provided by Google may offer better results at times, especially when it comes to non-English searches. DuckDuckGo does have a mechanism in place to run Google searches, and the following chapter explains how that is done.
How to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google and other sites to get faster, precise results
Did you know that you can use DuckDuckGo and still get results from Google? Not just Google, you can use it to search through thousands of sites. How is that possible? Welcome to the world of DuckDuckGo bangs.
Note: DuckDuckGo Bangs take you to other search engines, websites and services, which means DDG’s privacy measures cannot prevent tracking on these sites.
DuckDuckGo Bangs are special commands or filters, that you can use with the search engine to narrow down the results. According to the official website there are over 13000 bangs, including the exclusive ghacks bang !ghacks to run searches on this site.
How do you perform a search normally? You visit Google, or use the address bar, and type the search query, e.g. Windows 10 Update Issues, or something more specific like, pnp detected fatal error, and the browser loads the search results page of the default search provider.
To use bangs, all you need to do is add a prefix to your search. With Google, the bang we are looking for is !g, so an example search would look like this
This will run a Google Search for the term Ghacks. Hey, that still takes me to Google. It does, but the search is more precise and faster, and technically this is made possible via DuckDuckGo. Bangs are not limited to the main Google site, you can use it with Gmail, Drive, Maps, Images, etc.
You can also use bangs with DDG’s own search, for example, to open the first result directly, use ! or . This is the I feel Ducky shortcut. So, looking up ! ghacks will open the top result, which is obviously where you are now.
What else can I do with bangs? Let’s say you wanted to look up something on Wikipedia, use the !w prefix before the search term. Here is an example, maybe you want to know the history of cookies. So you can search for !w cookies. This is a bit different, it’s a site-specific search, in this case, DuckDuckGo will not take you to the search results page, instead it will directly take you to the relevant Wikipedia page.
DuckDuckGo search also works directly on Steam, Twitter, Amazon. Some examples,
!amazon iphone or !a iphone
!twitter star wars
This also works with YouTube, Reddit, and hundreds of other websites. !yt cat videos will open YouTube’s search page for cat videos. !r for searching reddit, or even better, to go to a subreddit directly use !sr
!sr awww will take you to the r/aww subreddit. !srs firefox proton will run a search for proton, and restrict it to the r/Firefox sub.
All these commands work across platforms and browsers, so regardless of if you’re using Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, you can use bangs on your device. I’ve just brushed the basics of the search tech, you can learn more about bangs at the official page, and find more commands for the sites you frequent.