Google is the largest and most popular search engine, so it makes sense that Apple has long included Google as the default search engine in Safari. But Google isn’t perfect, and concerns over the company’s data gathering practices have led many Mac owners to seek an alternative.
For those who prefer to use a search engine other than Google, one solution is to simply navigate to the alternative search engine’s website, but this approach lacks the convenience of quickly performing a Web search directly from the Safari address bar. Thankfully, users can change their default search engine in Safari, at least to a certain degree. Here’s how to do it.
Launch Safari and head to Safari > Preferences > Search in the menu bar. There, you’ll see a drop-down menu labeled Search Engine. In the U.S., Apple provides a choice of four options:
Note: While the steps discussed here apply to most versions of OS X, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is only available in Safari 8 for OS X Yosemite.
Simply select your desired search engine from the drop-down list to make it the default for Safari on your Mac. There’s no need to restart Safari or reboot your Mac; the change takes effect as soon as you make your selection.
If you want to further customize your Safari search experience, take note of the Include search engine suggestions box beneath the search engine drop-down list. Leaving it checked will display suggested search queries based upon the words you’ve thus far entered into the Safari address bar. It can make searching for complex or long queries much quicker by providing a context-sensitive list of frequently searched for terms.
Fans of other search engines not mentioned here will be disappointed. Apple currently provides no end-user option for making Safari’s default search engine anything other than the four options above (or three, for users running older versions of OS X). Users looking for easy alternative search engines will have to turn to Safari Extensions, or use another browser.
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