Chrome is a great browser but Google’s data collection practices and other general concerns — well-founded or not — may make some want to change the browser’s default search engine. Fortunately, just because you’re using the company’s browser doesn’t mean you have to use its search. And that holds true not only for using Google.com, in general. But also in terms of which browser is used when you type a search into the URL Omnibox.
None of that is to say that the process is intuitive. Even if it is easy enough to accomplish. But that’s what this guide is ultimately here to discuss. So let’s dive into how you can go about making a change to your default search engine in Google Chrome.
Why might you want to change the default search engine in Google Chrome?
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why a user might want to keep Google Chrome but change the default search engine.
Chrome is, after all, widely considered the best browser. At the very least, when it comes to balancing features, safety settings, account syncing, and other features with speed. Those reasons range from personal preference to legitimate concerns about how or whether Google is saving data from those searches. More specifically, whether or not that data is being stored in a way that conclusively links it to the user.
Whether or not a change is really a necessity is open for debate. Privacy is, after all, a serious matter for users in the modern online landscape. Google has worked hard to convince users that they are, in fact, safe using Chrome and Google Search. But not everybody is easily convinced. And, in some cases, concerns may be warranted to some extent.
Regardless, users could simply switch over to using one of the many available top-rated browsers on just about any platform. But sticking with Chrome is often the most convenient option. Fortunately, changing the default search engine is also an incredibly easy option if you know where to look.
Here’s how you can change the default search engine in desktop Chrome
As noted above, changing your default search engine away from Google is easy. With much more anonymized options such as DuckDuckGo or simply to something else, like Bing, is straightforward. But the steps will vary a bit based on the search engine you’ve chosen and which platform you’re using.
For instance, changing the default search engine on mobile or tablet, rather than desktop, takes slightly different steps that can trip users up. There are also some tricky segments in the process if you’re trying to change to a search engine that Chrome doesn’t include.
- Getting started making a change to your default Chrome search engine begins with opening up Google Chrome
- Navigate to the Settings page by clicking or tapping on the three-dot overflow menu at the top-right-hand side of the UI and scrolling down to “Settings.” Tap or click that menu option
- On the Settings page, navigate to the Search Engine segment by tapping or clicking on “Search Engine” in the left-hand pane. Conversely, the segment can also be found by scrolling down the Settings page
- In the Search Engine segment, the first option Google provides is a drop-down menu to select the search engine you’d like to use when you type a search into the URL Omnibox. Tap or click the drop-down menu and select the search engine you’d like to use. As of this writing, Google offers its own search, Ecosia, Yahoo!, Bing, or DuckDuckGo
Selecting the desired search engine will automatically save the change. Now you can type a search into the URL Omnibox in Chrome and results will appear from the selected search engine. However, not every search engine is included in Google’s list by default. But if you’d like to change to a different search engine, that can also be accomplished.
- Tap or click on the “Manage search engines” card under the “Search Engines” segment of the Chrome Settings menu. The resulting page is split into three sections. One for setting the keypress for searching within specific sites with a brief explanation and two sections for default and user-selected search engines
- Scroll to “Other search engines” and select the “Add” button
- Chrome will present the user with three fields that must be filled in properly to access the search engine from the Chrome Omnibox
- First up is the “Search engine” field. Google expects users to enter in a label for their search engine in this field. So, for example, you might enter “Ask” if you plan to use Ask.com as your default search engine
- The second field is “Keyword” and provides users with an easy way to access the search engine from the URL Omnibox. Using the above example of Ask.com, users might set the Keyword to “Ask.” The term is user-defined. So any keyword that will be easy for you to remember should be used. If “Ask” is used, users can then simply type “Ask” in the Omnibox and then hit the spacebar to let Chrome know that the search should be using Ask.com
- The final field is labelled “URL with %s in place of query” and is the most complicated field to fill in. Users will need to begin by navigating to the desired search engine in a new tab. As noted above, we’re using Ask.com in our example. So, in this case, we’ve navigated to Ask.com
- Perform a search in the desired search engine. We searched for “Android Headlines”
- The URL that needs to be copied is the results page. So, in this case, it was “http://www.ask.com/web?q=android+headlines” followed by a long string of other reference code. Copy the first segment of the code, up to the point of query. That’s the piece of code that denotes a query being performed. For Google, the keyword “search” is in the URL. But it’s almost always near the beginning of the URL and always denoted by an equals symbol. In the case of Ask.com, namely, the pasted URL should be “http://www.ask.com/web?q=”
- Paste the copied URL in the “URL with %s in place of query” field and type the term “%s” at the end.
- Click or tap the “Add” button
- Tap or click the three-dot menu next to the new entry under “Other search engines”
- Tap or click “Make default” to finalize your selection
You can change this on mobile too
Now, you can also change which is your default search engine for Chrome on mobile too. Albeit, not to the same extent or with the same depth as you can for desktop Chrome. Just for starters, Chrome doesn’t allow you to set up your own search engine on mobile as it does with the example above. Instead, Google offers just a select few defaults that it’s set up as options.
With that said, there are still some great options available to users on that front. And not only does that include anonymized engines such as DuckDuck Go. It’s also incredibly easy to change.
- As with the desktop example above, begin by opening a new instance of Google Chrome and navigating to a new tab
- Tap the three-dot overflow menu at the top-right-hand side of the UI
- Tap on the “Settings” option placed just above the bottom of that menu
- Near the top of the resulting Settings menu, the header “Basics” should house an option labeled “Search engine”
- Tap on Search engine
- Tap to select the search engine you’d like to use instead of Google. Present options are Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia
- Press the back arrow. Chrome will automatically switch over to the most recently tapped option, so it should automatically save the selection you’ve made