DuckDuckGo is best known for its focus on privacy. But the search engine (and now the browser) offers several helpful features, many of which aren’t even available on Google or Bing. So if you’re new to DuckDuckGo, here are five features to enhance your search experience.
Bangs are hands down the most handy feature DuckDuckGo offers. They are site search links for specific websites and services. Simply put, you don’t have to leave DuckDuckGo to browse a specific website. Instead, just use the bang and get redirected to the search results page on this website for your search query. In particular, with some ponies, such as e.g. “!w” for Wikipedia, will likely redirect to the specific Wikipedia entry in your search and not to a search page. So, bangs can be efficient and time-saving.
To use a bang, enter it in the DuckDuckGo search box next to your search query and submit. For example, you can search the How-To Geek site for Windows 11 articles with:
!howtogeek windows 11
It’s important to note that all bangs have the exclamation point in front of them. It helps the search engine recognize that you are using a bang. Otherwise, it is only counted as part of the search term.
As of December 2022 there are over 13,500 ponies and you can find one for pretty much every popular site. DuckDuckGo also allows anyone to suggest a new bang or submit a change to an existing bang.
However, if you want site or service specific results directly in DuckDuckGo, you can always use the site: search operator.
DuckDuckGo not only gives you a list of relevant websites for your search, but can also provide direct answers to your questions. 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 of course 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.
In addition, Instant Answers may tell you if a website is down, provide credit calculations, generate QR codes, and recommend software and service alternatives.
Email protection from Duck.com
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 have both installed, you can sign up for an @duck.com forwarding address that will receive the emails on your behalf, remove the trackers, and then forward them to a mailbox of your choosing.
Another exciting part of the email protection feature is the ability to create random aliases that can be shared 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 address. You can allow different aliases for different websites and disable them one by one if you get spam.
What’s more, you can even use your duck.com address to reply to emails if 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 primary email id are saved.
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 by third-party trackers on the apps on your phone. Most of these trackers come from advertising companies like Google and Taboola, social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, and analytics companies like Adobe. And these companies gather details like exact location, email address, phone number, time zone, and device fingerprint to create a profile that they can use to target you with creepily relevant ads. Unfortunately, some of this information can also get into the hands of data brokers.
To use app tracking protection, install DuckDuckGo for Android on your phone if you don’t already have it. Then go to Settings in the app and enable the feature. You can find it in the More from DuckDuckGo section. The feature will ask you to set up a VPN connection to monitor traffic from your apps (though none of this data is sent to DuckDuckGo servers). Once the feature is active, you can see how many trackers have been blocked, including by which companies and in which apps.
Note: As of December 2022, the app tracking protection is still in beta but is available for all Android users.
Cheatsheets are a slightly lesser-known feature of DuckDuckGo, but they can be very helpful in increasing 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 search query for an app, language, or service, and DuckDuckGo lists common shortcuts or the basics of your search term.
For example, if you’re looking for a Chrome cheat sheet, DuckDuckGo offers all the popular web browser shortcuts. On the other hand, a cheat sheet search for C++ leads to the basics of this programming language. You will also receive a link to access more information about your request just below the cheatsheet.
Aside from all these exciting features, DuckDuckGo offers most of what you will find in other popular search engines like image search, video search, news, autocomplete suggestions, maps, safe search and financial data. If you’re concerned about privacy and want to migrate to DuckDuckGo, our guide to switching to DuckDuckGo can help.
TIED TOGETHER: How to switch to DuckDuckGo, a private search engine