DuckDuckGo is a search engine that respects your privacy by not selling your search history or tracking you across the web. It also has a few nifty features, including bangs, which let you search other websites right from DuckDuckGo. Here’s how.
What Is a Bang?
A bang, or !bang, as it is commonly known, is a term you can include with your DuckDuckGo search to limit your results to a particular website or service. The name comes from an old UNIX term for an exclamation point, which is used to invoke the feature in searches.
For example, if you are searching the web with DuckDuckGo and you want to limit your results to How-To Geek, you can include “!howtogeek” with your search term. Searching for “windows 10 !howtogeek” will perform a search for “windows 10” using How-To Geek’s own search engine.
There are bangs for all sorts of websites, from mainstream search engines like Google (!g) to personal accounts like Gmail (!gmail). You can crunch sums or level questions at Wolfram Alpha (!wa) or search for an iPhone app on the App Store (!appstore). There’s a Wikipedia bang, too (!w).
Finding Useful Bangs
There are currently over 13,500 bangs that you can include with your search queries. DuckDuckGo has had to purge some entries in the past for legal reasons, particularly surrounding the topic of piracy and the searching of torrent trackers.
The best way to search for a bang is to start typing an exclamation mark. DuckDuckGo will open a list of suggested bangs, with suggestions becoming more relevant as you type. So if you’re wondering whether a particular website has a bang, start typing an exclamation point followed by its name. If you find a website that isn’t included, you can submit it for consideration.
One of the more useful uses for bangs is as a quick exit point to a major search engine like Google (!g) or Bing (!b) when DuckDuckGo’s results aren’t as good as you’d hoped. You can also use them to search for products on Amazon (!a) or eBay (!ebay), look at restaurant reviews on Yelp (!yelp), or comb the social web via Twitter (!twitter) or Reddit (!reddit).
Bangs May Put Your Privacy at Risk
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that places privacy above all else. While Google and other search providers store your search history and credentials, track you across the web, and target you with personalized ads based on your browsing habits, DuckDuckGo does not.
But DuckDuckGo is not responsible for how third-party websites behave. When you include a bang in your search, you’re waiving DuckDuckGo’s privacy policies in favor of the website you end up on. This includes data collection policies and third-party trackers.
This includes third-party websites that use Google for their sitewide search features, as we do here at How-To Geek. As an alternative, you can try including just the name of the website to avoid triggering an off-site search (e.g. “windows 10 howtogeek”), which provides relevant results inside the DuckDuckGo search engine.