DuckDuckGo for Mac is now available to all users. was the browser Released in April This year it is in closed beta on an invite-only basis.
It’s still in beta, but now you no longer have to wait for an invite to try it out.
DuckDuckGo for Mac
When I wrote about it earlier this year, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the app. But things have changed since then, let’s take a look at their prices now. The company claims that DuckDuckGo for Mac uses 60% less data than Chrome. The browser is based on Apple Safari’s WebKit engine, WKWebView To be precise.
You can set the browser to restore open windows from the previous session. The app allows you to switch between the light and dark theme, or perhaps configure it to follow the system theme. By default, the address bar does not display the full URL, you can change that from the Preferences > Appearance page.
DuckDuckGo for Mac comes with some unique features to protect your privacy. Like the mobile version, the desktop browser has a Fire button that can be used to clear browsing history data and cookies with a single click. You can add specific websites to your list of fireproof websites to keep your login information.
The browser can handle annoying cookie consent pop-ups automatically, it reduces cookies, that is, it sets sites to use as few cookies as possible to protect your privacy. It also shuts down the cookie prompts on its own, goodbye to annoying banners.
Back in DuckDuckGo Browser, it has a Global Privacy Control (GPC) feature that tells websites not to track you. Click the shield icon to the left of the address bar to view and manage tracking protection for the current website. macOS app also supported Email Protection, which was recently out of beta. You can get a free @duck.com email address, it’s an easy way to hide your real email address. The new tab page of DuckDuckGo Browser shows some privacy stats like the number of trackers that have been blocked, trackers found on the website, the number of those that have been blocked, etc.
Autofill and import bookmarks and passwords
Users who want to migrate from Firefox, Chrome, etc. can import their bookmarks and passwords using the import wizard which can be found under Settings. The browser has a built-in password manager that supports automatic filling of usernames, passwords, addresses, and payment information. You can set the auto-fill to lock after a few minutes of idle time. Autofill feature will be rolling out soon to mobile browser.
Improved ad blocker
The DuckDuckGo ad blocker, which blocks ads before they’re loaded, has been improved since the last time I reviewed it. It doesn’t leave blank spaces (instead of blocked ad banners) on web pages anymore. It blocks most ads on websites, which is a good thing of course. But it doesn’t seem to block product ads on search engines. (See the end of the article).
There is no way to control how ads are blocked, you can either enable or disable tracking protection. The browser does not have a custom block or filter menu like uBlock Origin.
DuckDuckGo Browser’s ad blocker still doesn’t block ads directly on YouTubem, but does block them when using a new feature. It’s a little complicated, but we’ll discuss this in the section below.
DuckDuckGo for Mac has a new feature in version 0.30, called Duck Player. according to AdvertisingThis is a privacy-friendly version of the YouTube video player. It’s practically identical to YouTube’s video player, so you can control playback, volume, toggle closed captions, change resolution, or switch to cinema mode or full screen view. The only difference is that Duck Player removes targeted ads and cookies from videos.
DuckDuckGo says that any ads users may see in Duck Player are not personalized. The company says that the video player was able to completely block all ads. I can confirm it, I opened some videos showing ads on YouTube, but the ads never played in Duck Player. It’s not incognito, so YouTube will know you watched the video, although it won’t be able to use it to get personalized recommendations.
How does it work? Duck Player opens YouTube videos in a new tab, and videos are played through YouTube-Nocookie.com. This is it YouTube Enhanced Privacy Mode, Which is often used as a privacy-friendly way to embed videos into web pages.
Of course, you will not be able to access the video description, comments, playlist, etc., from Duck Player, you will have to use YouTube for that. Duck Player is not enabled by default, and the browser will display an option asking if you want to open the video in Duck Player. You can set it as the default experience (or disable it completely) from the Preferences > Duck Player page.
Limitations in DuckDuckGo for Mac
Here are some of the things you cannot do with DuckDuckGo for Mac. The browser does not support extensions, and this is, in my opinion, the biggest drawback if you are coming from Firefox or Chrome.
The built-in ad blocker does not block product ads on DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ecosia and Start Page. If you search for something like Macbook, iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Windows 11, etc., you will see ads pop up.
It’s a bit inconsistent, ads don’t seem to show up for other queries. This was my experience with Shield Protection enabled (defaults). When you disable the shield and ads are displayed, this is normal. But ads are displayed even when shields are raised. This is not something you would expect from a proper ad blocker.
You can’t change the browser’s search engine, so you’re stuck with DuckDuckGo as the default option. I don’t mind that, but other users might. DuckDuckGo says that the source code for its desktop browser and mobile apps are not publicly available, and that it will open the source code before the apps are moved out of beta.
DuckDuckGo has confirmed that it is working on a sync option to allow users to sync bookmarks and passwords across devices. The company will also add more built-in features that will serve as native alternatives to the most popular add-ons. Does that mean it won’t support extensions?
Bitwarden users will soon be able to use a password manager directly in the browser, and two-way integration will be added in an update in the coming weeks.
Download DuckDuckGo for Mac from the official website.
While it may not have all the features of Firefox, Chrome or Safari, I think DuckDuckGo for Mac is worth a try. It has a simple user interface, and the default privacy features are great, but the ad blocker needs more improvement. A Windows version of the browser will be launched in the coming months, with a waiting list beta. No word on the Linux version.
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