I’ve been looking at alternatives to Google Search. You should too. Lately, things are getting weird at Google. In short, I think they’ve lost direction. Google’s original thing was simple: fast, accurate search results without a bunch of clutter. That’s changed. Google is increasingly pushing itself into the social media business. I’m not sure exactly when the course correction started but the battleship is most certainly steaming in that direction now with the emergence of Google+ and the “added benefit” of Searching Your World.
Nevertheless, it seems increasingly clear to me that I don’t want to keep giving my information over to the Google masters. Looking at the original three reasons to use Google search (accuracy, clean interface, and speed), it occurs to me that Google search results are no longer as accurate as they give preference to their own services over others. Moreover, Google search results are no longer as clutter-free as they once were.
Adding privacy to the mix, my new criteria for a browser are, in order of priority: 1. accuracy, 2. privacy, 3. Clean UI, and 4. Speed. I list speed last because it is relative. I want something fast but it doesn’t have to be the fastest. So long as I don’t have to check my watch waiting for results I am fine. So where does this leave me with Google? On the outs.
Enter the Duck
I took Ben Brooks’s advice and started using DuckDuckGo a few weeks ago. It reminds me of Google 10 years ago. The search page is really clean and the results are very accurate. I’m guessing it is slower that Google’s search but it isn’t noticeable. Moreover, DuckDuckGo has the kind of security policy that I can curl up with and get comfy.
So I’ve been running it two weeks and I don’t miss Google. It displays search results on a clean page, they feel just as accurate as a Google search would without the spam and Google+ bias, it is fast enough, and they don’t track a damn thing. Winner.
Adding DuckDuckGo to My Life
Since Apple has not added DuckDuckGo as a possible default search engine for Mac OS X or iOS, you need to do a little bit of legwork.
For the Mac, you can use Glims to update Safari’s in-app search bar. Since I do >90% of my searches with LaunchBar, I created a custom search template. To create one, display your LaunchBar index (from the Index menu) and select Search Templates. Then tap the Add button and add a new search template for DuckDuckGo pointing at
Next time you fire up LaunchBar, type
duck, hit the spacebar, and go.
For iOS, I just added the search page to my bookmark bar as
Duck. This syncs between my devices using the iCloud bookmark syncing feature and performing a new search just requires me to tap the word. There is also an iOS apps if you prefer.
After using Google search for so long, I was surprised at how easy it was to dump it and how little I miss it. Give DuckDuckGo a try.