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Last Updated on September 19, 2021 by Tom Buford
Google is so well known and is referred to so often that many people think it is the only search engine available. There are other choices available and in this article I’ll show you how to change the default search engine that your browser uses.
You may want to do that if you’ve read or heard things that make you wary of a particular search engine’s privacy practices. Or maybe you’re one who “roots for the underdog” and would like to give your search business to an up and coming competitor.
How to Change the Default Search Engine in Your Browser
Most computer users are accustomed to searching on their computers and phones. They know that they can type a term in the address bar of their browser and expect to see Google’s results for that search.
It is common vernacular to suggest to someone that they “Google it,” meaning look up their question on the Internet. But while it may be the biggest and most popular, Google is not the only useful search engine available today.
Most computer users know that they can simply type their search query into their browser’s address bar and quickly come up with a long list of suggested resources. In the early years of browser history the only way you could search via a search engine was to type the address of a search engine or directory in the address bar. You would then go to that search engine’s website and type in your queries there.
Firefox also allows you to search Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia.
That method still works, but in this article I’ll show you how you can change the settings in Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari so that searches in your browser’s search bar are carried out on your choice of search engines.
Note: Setting one of the alternatives as default means that any searches you do via your browser’s address bar or search bar will automatically be carried out on that search engine.
If you have one of the alternatives selected, then one time specifically want to use Google for a search, you can still do that the way I referred to earlier, by going to google.com and do your search from the Google search website.
If you use multiple browsers and would like to know how to change the search engine on each one, read on. If you use only one browser, feel free to scroll down to your browser of choice.
Change the default search engine in Chrome
The Chrome Browser is a product owned by Google and it installs with Google set as it’s default search engine. But Chrome allows you to replace Google with one of the following as your new default search engine.
To set a different search engine as your default in Chrome follow these steps:
- Go to the three dot “More” icon all the way to the far right of the address bar.
- Look for “Settings” toward the bottom of the menu that opens.
- From Settings, either select Search Engine from the menu on the left or scroll down the center of the page to the Search Engine section.
- To the right of “Search engine used in the address bar”, click in the drop-down box and select your desired search engine.
Bonus Tip for Chrome users: Chrome will allow you to add additional search engines beyond those options that exist when you install Chrome. If you have a favorite that is not listed in the standard options, just go to the search engine you’d like to add. Perform any search, then return to the search engine settings. In the Search Engine section, look an area labeled “Manage Search Engines.” Click anywhere in that area to open the settings for it. You should see the search engine you just visited in the list. Click on the More icon to the right and select “Make default.”
You can also click the “Add” button to add your own choice, but I find it potentially more complex that method I just described. You’ll enter the name of the website in the Search Engine box, the web address (URL) for it in the Keyword box, and the Query URL in the box labeled “URL with %s in place of query.” You can find more details about finding the Query URL here on Google.com.
Change the default search engine in the Edge browser
The Edge browser is a Microsoft product. As such, Edge installs with Microsoft’s own search engine, Bing, selected as the default. You can change that setting from Bing to any of the following.
To replace Bing with a different default search engine in the Edge browser, take the following steps.
- Select the “More” three dot icon on the far right end of the address bar.
- Select “Settings” near the bottom of the menu.
- From the left side menu under Settings, select “Privacy, Search, and Services.”
- Scroll to the bottom of the page to the Services section. The last item in that section and the last item on the page is “Address bar and search.” Click to open it.
- The page that opens is a short one. You may see a large box trying to persuade you to stay with the Bing search engine. Below that box, look for the line that says, “Search engine used in the address bar.”
- Click the drop-down box and select the search engine you’d like to have as your default.
Bonus Tip for Edge users: Like Chrome, the Edge browser will also allow you to add additional search engines beyond those options that exist when you install Edge. Just go to the search engine you’d like to use by typing its address in the address bar. Do a search for anything you wish. Now, return to the settings as instructed above. You should see the search engine you just used to perform a search added to the list of available search engines. Look to the right of the listing and click the More icon and choose “Make default.”
It is not as simple as the method just described, but you can use the Add button above the list of available search engines to add a new one. If you use that method, follow the exact instructions shown above for using the Add button in the Bonus Tip for Chrome users.
Change the default search engine in Firefox
The Firefox browser is not owned by a company that also owns a search engine as Chrome and Bing are. It is more open about the choices you have when searching.
When you begin to type a search term into the search or address bar, you’ll see suggestions begin to populate below the address/search bar. At the bottom of that list, you’ll see a bar displaying the icons of the following search options.
You can select one of those icons to use that website for that particular search. Obviously you wouldn’t search Amazon or eBay for updates on a current events story, but they are searched millions of times for products. If you make purchases through eBay or Amazon, selecting one of them from the search bar simplifies the process of searching for a product.
You can also set one of them as your default search engine. Here’s how.
- Click the three bar “hamburger” icon at the far right side of the address bar.
- From the menu that opens, select Preferences on Macs or Options on Windows.
- From the menu on the left, select Search.
- On the Search setting pages, go down to the second section — “Default search engine.”
- From the drop-down box choose Bing, Google, or DuckDuckGo.
If you make frequent searches on Amazon, eBay, or Wikipedia, you could make one of them your default.
Change the default search engine in Safari
Like Firefox, Safari—an Apple Product—is not owned by a company that also has its own search engine (at least not yet). In Safari you can select from the same search engine options that Chrome offers. Those are:
Here’s how to set your favorite search engine in Safari:
- Go to the menu at the top of the screen. Choose Safari, then Preferences.
- From the Preferences window, select the Search tab.
- The first item on that setting page is “Search engine.” Click in that drop-down menu and select the search engine you’d like to use.
It really is that simple to change the default search engine in your browser.
If you ever want to change back to Google for your searches, just follow the instructions above and select Google from the list.
You can find more browser related articles here.