How To Change Your Default Search Engine

The Neeva Team on 08/04/21

About 30 percent of web traffic is generated using internet search engines, the software that retrieves information in response to a spoken or written query. Your search results influence everything from what you think to what you buy.

Most web-enabled devices like laptops and smartphones come with a default web browser, which comes with a default search engine. The most common default search engines—Google and Bing—are ad-based, meaning they prioritize ads over quality results and collect your data for advertising.

Changing your browser’s default search engine can improve your browsing experience by giving you more control over your search results, and can even help protect your data and privacy.

What’s a default search engine?

It’s the search engine used in the address bar of your web browser.

A web browser is a software program for displaying web pages and navigating the web, whereas a search engine is a website that finds web pages from other websites. Search engines can be accessed using a web browser by either visiting the search engine’s website or by typing a search term into a browser’s address bar.

When you type anything other than a web address (URL) into your browser’s address bar—like ‘Tokyo olympics’, for example—you’re taken to the search engine results page (SERP) of your browser’s default search engine. In a sense, your default search engine is your browser’s preferred way of finding particular sites on the web.

Most leading browsers, like Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, come ‘prepackaged’ with Google Search as the default search engine. Microsoft Edge comes with Bing. But you can always choose another option, either from a list of other search engines or by adding a new one yourself.

Why is Google the most common default search engine?

For twenty years Google has set the pace and written the rules for how online search works. With over 92 percent of global market share, Google Search is by far the world’s dominant search engine. (By comparison, Bing, the second-most popular search engine, has just over 2 percent of the market share.)

Google maintains its grip through its size and diverse portfolio of products and partnerships. Google benefits from being the default search engine for other Google products such as Android, the world’s most popular mobile operating system with over 72 percent of the market share, and Chrome, the leading browser on desktop computers and mobile devices by a wide margin. The more Google services you use, the more information Google collects about you. Every search request provides the company with more data, which in turn improves its search algorithm and helps further its market dominance.

Google also has a business relationship with Apple, which has allowed Google to be the default search engine on all of Apple’s products.

Google has faced considerable scrutiny in recent years over its anti-competitive behavior and monopolistic business practices which undermine privacy, openness, and competition on the internet. As a result, a variety of new alternatives to its products and services are emerging.

Why should you change your default search engine?

Your search engine is your compass, guiding you across the ocean of websites that is the internet. Getting around is a lot easier if it points you in the right direction. Unfortunately, mainstream search engines have some biases, thanks to their ad-based business model. Here are a few reasons to swap your default search engine for an alternative:

1. Mainstream search engines make their money through online ads, creating a conflict of interest. These allow advertisers to buy their way to the top of the results page from certain search terms, especially retail or product queries. And ads are increasingly indistinguishable from organic search results.

2. Mainstream search engines are biased towards engagement. Search engines want to show results that people will click on. When people click on a particular search result and spend time on the page, they send a signal to the search engine that that result was relevant and engaging. This signal makes the search engine more likely to surface that result again. But engagement doesn’t necessarily mean quality. For instance, high-engagement, ad-driven sites like WebMD often outrank credible sites like National Institutes of Health. You want real results, not a rabbit hole.

3. Ad-based search engines track your activity and sell your data to advertisers. By default, they keep a record of every search you make on their engine. They also collect personal data, like your IP address, and use it to serve you targeted ads. You have almost no control over how they use the data they gather about you, or how long they store it.

Private search engines like Neeva don’t sell or share your data. Changing your browser’s default search engine to a private option can give you more relevant search results while shielding your data from trackers and advertisers. Your searches, your business.

How to change your default search engine

Major web browsers allow you to change your default search engine from a list of options in search settings. Most also allow you to add search engines of your choosing from the web. Here’s how, depending on your browser:

Chrome

Desktop

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click the three-dot icon at the top right corner of the browser.
  3. From the drop-down menu select Settings near the bottom.
  4. Scroll down to the Search engine section or click Search engine in the left sidebar.
  5. Select your preferred search engine from the Search engine used in the address bar drop-down menu.
  6. If you don’t see your preferred search engine in the drop-down menu, click Manage search engines.
  7. Under Other search engines, click the three vertical dots to the right of your preferred search engine.
  8. Click Make default.

To add a search engine:

  1. Click the Add button.
  2. Enter the name and keyword of your preferred search engine in the respective text fields.
  3. Open a new browser tab and go to your preferred search engine’s website.
  4. Enter a search term, like ‘Tokyo Olympics', and copy the URL of the search engine’s results page.
  5. Go back to the Setting tab and paste the URL in the URL with %s in place of the query text field.
  6. Replace the search term with ‘%s’ in the URL (for example, ‘https://neeva.com/search?q=tokyo+olympics’ becomes ‘https://neeva.com/search?q=%s’).
  7. Click the Add button.
  8. Click the three vertical dots to the right of your newly-added search engine and click Make default.

Safari

Desktop

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click the address bar.
  3. Click on the magnifying glass icon on the far left side of the address bar and select your preferred search engine from the drop-down menu (a checkmark will appear next to your selection).

You can also:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. From the menu bar along the top of your screen click Safari.
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Click the Search tab at the top of the window.
  5. Select your preferred search engine from the Search engine drop-down menu.

You can’t add new search engines to Safari. However, certain Safari extensions, like Neeva For Safari, provide a way to set new default search engines. Find these by searching for extensions in the Apple App Store.

Firefox

Desktop

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Click the hamburger menu icon at the top right corner of the browser.
  3. From the drop-down menu select Settings near the bottom.
  4. Click Search in the left sidebar.
  5. Under Default Search Engine, select your preferred search engine from the drop-down menu.

To add a search engine:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the Search page and click on Find more search engines.
  2. Type the name of your preferred search engine in the search box at the top right corner of the page.
  3. Select the extension from the list of results.
  4. To install click on the Add to Firefox button.
  5. Click the Add button in the pop-up box that appears.

Edge

Desktop

  1. Open Edge.
  2. Click the three-dot icon at the top right corner of the browser.
  3. From the drop-down menu select Settings near the bottom.
  4. Click Privacy, Search, and Services in the left sidebar.
  5. Scroll down and click Address bar and search at the very bottom of the page.
  6. Select your preferred search engine from the Search engine used in the address bar drop-down menu.

To add a search engine:

  1. If you don’t see your preferred search engine in the drop-down menu, click Manage search engines.
  2. Click the Add button at the top right of the page.
  3. Enter the name and keyword of your preferred search engine in the respective text fields.
  4. Open a new browser tab and go to your preferred search engine’s website.
  5. Enter a search term, like ‘Tokyo olympics’ and copy the URL of the search engine’s results page.
  6. Go back to the Setting tab and paste the URL in the URL with %s in place of query text field.
  7. Replace the search term with ‘%s’ in the URL (for example, ‘https://neeva.com/search?q=tokyo+olympics’ becomes ‘https://neeva.com/search?q=%s’).
  8. Click the Add button.
  9. Click the three vertical dots to the right of your newly-added search engine and click Make default.

Note: If changing your search engine doesn’t work, your browser may be infected with malware. You may need to reset your browser settings before trying again.



Neeva is the world’s first private, ad-free search engine, committed to showing you the best result for every search. We will never sell or share your data with anyone, especially advertisers. Sign up today and try Neeva for yourself: neeva.com/signup.