How to change your default search engine.

Google is amongst the big tech giants seemingly living in a false universe that we have no other choice but to use their products. Google permeates into as many areas of our digital lives as it can in order to harvest more and more personal data from our lives to make selling access to you more valuable to advertisers. Google collects data about your every click, search, tap and location from its broad big tech dominate position. You may be surprised what Google knows about you and that you can stop feeding the big tech beast.

Google is not the only game in town. Check out these very useful alternatives to the big tech giant.

Best Google Search Alternatives

DuckDuckGo (my favorite)

  • Search engine built to protect searchers’ privacy.
  • Does not target ads toward you.
  • Does not track you and your searches.
  • Does not produce search results based on your search history.
  • The make their money by ads and commissions while never sharing your personal data.

 

StartPage.com

  • Dutch-based search engine that lets you get Google search results while protecting your privacy under more strict EU privacy standards.
  • Does not store personal data.
  • Does not track user searches.
  • Removes all trackers and logs by paying Google to use its search engine.
  • Does not serve ads based on your search history.
  • Cannot be forced to comply with US govt surveillance programs like PRISM since it is based in the Netherlands.

 

Dogpile

  • Less about privacy and more about gathering a lot of search results from many sources. The metasearch engine fetches results from Google, Yahoo, Bing and others
  • Puts links into categories to help you search grouped results.

 

Ecosia

  • Search engine based in Germany that donates 80% of its profits to nonprofit organizations that help with planting trees.
  • Searches are private and encrypted.
  • It is available on Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge browsers as a default search engine.
  • It’s B Lab-certified which means it operates with a higher level of transparency and accountability

How to change your default search engine on an iPhone

Launch Settings > tap Safari  >  Search Engine.   >  select from list of search engines

 

How to change your default search engine on Android devices to DuckDuckGo

(They don’t make this easy should come as no surprise. )

  • Open Google Play
  • Search “DuckDuckGo” (technically at least three clicks)
  • Tap DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser
  • Tap Install
  • Navigate to the DuckDuckGo icon
  • Long-press the DuckDuckGo icon
  • Tap the widgets icon
  • Long-press the widget and place on home screen
  • Long-press the Google widget
  • Tap Remove (process may differ and doesn’t work on all devices, e.g., Google Pixel phones – go figure!)
  • Now you need to either make DuckDuckGo your default browser or make DuckDuckGo your default search engine in your preferred browser. Similar number of steps in either case, but we’ll do the former since it is much better for privacy.
      • Open Settings
      • Search “browser” (technically at least two clicks)
      • Tap Default browser app
      • Tap DuckDuckGo
      • Tap Home

One of the best ways to determine what search results work best is to open each of these alternative search sites and put them to the test looking up the same thing on Google and the alternative search engine.  It may be a small dent in big tech’s grip, but frankly you may be surprised how well these alternatives perform compared to Google.

 

Bonus: 5 important settings to change on your Chrome browser

1/  Unlink browser from your Google account

  • Click Preferences from the Chrome menu  >  Settings > Privacy and security > Sync and Google services  >  from Allow Chrome sign-in > switch toggle to Off so that it does not automatically log in your browser to your Google account

2/  Turn off sending usage data to Google

  • From same section turn off toggle from Help improve Chrome’s features and performance

3/  Turn off URLs you visit being sent to Google

  • From same section turn off from Make searching and browsing better

4/  Turn off Sites can ask to send notifications

  • Click Preferences from the Chrome menu  >  Settings > Privacy and security > Site Settings  >  click Notifications in the Permissions section >  turn off Sites can ask to send notifications

5/  Set new default search engine from your computer’s web browser

  • Click Preferences from the Chrome menu  >  Settings > Privacy and security > scroll down to Search engine section and make selections to alternative search engine instead of Google

 

More ways to take back your privacy: