DuckDuckGo is primarily known for its focus on privacy. But the search engine (and now browser) offers several helpful features, many of which aren’t even available on Google or Bing. So if you are new to DuckDuckGo, here are five features to improve your search experience.
Bangs are undoubtedly the most practical feature offered by DuckDuckGo. They are shortcuts to the site search of specific websites and services. Simply put, you don’t need to leave DuckDuckGo to search a particular website. Instead, just use its bang and get redirected to the search results page on that website for your query. Notably, for some bangs, such as “!w” for Wikipedia, you’ll likely be redirected to the specific Wikipedia entry on your search rather than a search page. So bangs can be efficient and time savers.
To use a bang, type it next to your query in the DuckDuckGo search box and submit. For example, you can search How-To Geek’s website for Windows 11 articles with:
!howtogeek windows 11
It’s important to note that all bangs have the exclamation mark in front of them. It helps the search engine identify that you are using a bang. Otherwise, it’ll just be counted as a part of the search keyword.
There are over 13,500 bangs as of December 2022, and you can find one for pretty much all popular websites. DuckDuckGo also allows anyone to suggest a new bang or submit an edit to an existing bang.
If you want website or service-specific results right in DuckDuckGo, though, you can always use the “site:” search operator.
Apart from giving you a list of relevant web pages for your search, DuckDuckGo can also offer direct answers to your queries. The site uses over 100 sources, so Instant Answers are available for a variety of queries.
Simple things like calculations, a calendar, a stopwatch, what rhymes with a word, or factual information are obviously available. But you can also use this feature to generate passwords, solve anagrams, shorten or expand links, or change the case of a bunch of text.
DuckDuckGo’s email protection feature can help you keep the embedded trackers in emails at bay. To use it, you need the official DuckDuckGo app or its extension in your browser. Once you’ve installed either, you can sign up for an @duck.com forwarding address that receives the emails on your behalf, strips the trackers, and then forwards them to a mailbox of your choosing.
Another exciting part of the email protection feature is the ability to create random aliases to share with potentially spammy, untrustworthy, or random websites. (It’s similar to Apple’s Hide My Email.) Emails sent to these aliases are also stripped of the trackers and then forwarded to your primary email. You can share different aliases with different websites and deactivate them individually if you start receiving spam.
Moreover, you can even use your duck.com address to reply to emails in cases where you don’t want the recipient to know your personal email address. In typical DuckDuckGo fashion, privacy is at the heart of email protection, so DuckDuckGo says none of your emails are ever stored by the company. Only your aliases and the primary email ID are kept.
App Tracking Protection for Android
App tracking protection is another DuckDuckGo feature that can improve your privacy. Exclusive to Android, it can curb the constant spying done by third-party trackers in the apps on your phone. Most of these trackers are from advertising companies like Google and Taboola, social media firms like Facebook and Twitter, and analytics firms like Adobe. And these companies gather details like precise location, email address, phone number, time zone, and device fingerprint to build a profile with which they can target you with creepily relevant ads. Unfortunately, some of this information can also end up in the hands of data brokers.
To use app tracking protection, install DuckDuckGo for Android on your phone if you don’t already have it. And then, go to Settings in the app and enable the feature. You’ll find it in the “More from DuckDuckGo” section. The feature will ask you to set up a VPN connection to monitor data traffic from your apps (none of this data is sent to DuckDuckGo servers, though). Once the feature is active, you’ll be able to see how many trackers were blocked, including from which companies and in which apps.
As of this writing in December 2022, app tracking protection is still in beta but available to all Android users.
Cheatsheets are a somewhat lesser-known feature of DuckDuckGo, but it can be quite helpful in enhancing your productivity. It can help you find keyboard shortcuts for your favorite app and learn the basics of popular programming languages. All you have to do is type
cheatsheet next to a query for an app, language, or service, and DuckDuckGo will list common shortcuts or the basics of your search term.
For example, when you search for a cheat sheet for Chrome, DuckDuckGo offers all the common shortcuts for the web browser. On the other hand, a cheatsheet search for C++ results in the fundamentals of that programming language. You also get a link to access more information about your query right below the cheatsheet.
Apart from all these exciting features, DuckDuckGo offers most of what you’ll find on other popular search engines, such as image search, video search, news, autocomplete suggestions, maps, safe search, and financial data. If you are concerned about privacy and want to migrate to DuckDuckGo, our guide on how to switch to DuckDuckGo can help.