OverviewsPrivacy Tools

DuckDuckGo Browser Extension (Overview)

Browsers leak a lot of your information. Any webpage will have a multitude of trackers, analytic services, cookies, and other tools and plugins in place to collect data and track you across websites and your browser session.

However, there are a number of ways to maintain your privacy and stop all this tracking from happening. This can be done with plugins, a different browser, or extensions.

There are many to choose from, all with their different strengths and weaknesses. For most people, our recommendation is: DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension.

DuckDuckGo Browser Extension

DuckDuckGo is a privacy company with three primary products – a search engine, a mobile browser app, and the browser extension. In this article, we’ll focus solely on the browser extension.

The browser extension is currently available on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

One thing to note before we delve into the details: this extension is not the same as adding the DuckDuckGo search engine to your browser. The search engine is a part of this extension but if you want to only add the search engine, you can do so separately and on additional browsers including Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Internet Explorer.

The Feature List

If you read or used the DuckDuckGo browser app for Android or iOS, you’ll be very familiar with the features on the Privacy Essentials extension as they’re nearly the same. Here’s a quick rundown.

Privacy protection

The browser extension adds privacy features to any website you visit by default. It will block advertisers, trackers, and cookies and redirect to HTTPS versions of any website you visit.

Built-in DuckDuckGo Search Engine

The browser also gives you access to the DuckDuckGo search engine, a privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t track or store your search history. (For a more complete overview of the search engine, check out this article). 

Privacy Grades for each website

Through its partnership with Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (TOSDR), most websites are given a privacy grade based on its terms of service and privacy policy. Those with terms and policies that don’t account for privacy or that are vague get lower grades but the extension shows how that grade improves with the extension’s privacy features on.

Life with DuckDuckGo’s browser extension

If you’ve installed a browser extension before, then setting up DuckDuckGo should be pretty simple. Look for the extension in your browser’s settings, download and install it (you may have to restart your browser before the extension can be enabled.). For Firefox, it’s under Add-ons. For Chrome, it’s in the webstore under extensions. And for Safari, you can get the DuckDuckGo browser extension in the app store.

Once the extension installed, it automatically turns on the privacy settings for any webpage you visit. However you can toggle the privacy protection features on and off for your current webpage. When you do, just refresh the page and it’ll load without the privacy protection features in place.

Having the ability to turn off the privacy protection is important as some websites may not load properly or prevent you from accessing the page fully unless you allow the trackers to do their business. This is not a problem limited to DuckDuckGo – any ad and tracker blocker has problems loading specific pages. Fortunately, the easy-to-use toggle option lets you browse without much interruption.

With the extension, you can delve into the tracking details of each website. The Privacy Grade is also a good marker of which websites have better privacy protections in place.

Access to DuckDuckGo’s search engine is also quite handy. If you’re concerned about privacy and tracking via search, you can start with DuckDuckGo and then move onto Google’s search engine if you don’t find what you’re looking for. The browser extension makes the process very convenient.

Why we recommend DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo as a company is very commendable because of their commitment to internet privacy. We trust them and their products and trust is very important when it comes to privacy-minded tools and features. Their browser extension is reliable and customizable enough that even someone new to privacy can use it quite easily. 

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