How to Change the Default Search Engine in Safari for Mac OS X

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 a perfect search engine, and concerns over the company’s data gathering practices have led many macOS users to seek alternative search engines that do a better job of protecting user’s privacy such as DuckDuckGo.

For those who would like the default search engine on Safari be something 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.

If you’ve changed from Google to another search engine at some point, you may just want to change your default search engine on Safari back to Google.

Thankfully, you can change your default search engine in Safari, making quick and convenient searches with your search engine of choice.

This TechJunkie article will show you how to change your default search engine on Safari running on macOS. Note that while many people still call it Mac OS X, the new official name is macOS. However, macOS and Mac OS X are terms that can be used interchangeably because they mean the same thing, but officially Apple now calls it macOS.

How do I change my default search engine in Safari on Mac?

change search engine safari mac os x
Apple currently gives users a choice of four search engines.

Note: These instructions are for newer versions of macOS. If you have an older version, you can find the search engine options under the General preferences tab.

  1. Open Safari
  2. Select Safari from the Safari menu bar
  3. From the Safari pull-down menu select Preferences
  4. Click on the Search tab
  5. From the pull-down menu, select your favorite search engine from the Search Engine pull-down menu list: Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo

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. Now, you can type whatever you like in the address bar and your favorite search engine (assuming it’s one of the four available) will appear with the information you’re looking for.

You can now search the web more conveniently using your favorite search engine, though fans of search engines not mentioned above may be disappointed.

Apple currently provides no end-user option for making Safari’s default search engine anything other than the four options above: Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. If you are using an older version of Mac OSX, then the list of default engines is limited to three choices.

Users looking for ease-of-access to alternative search engines will have to turn to Safari Extensions, or possibly use another web browser.

search with duckduckgo safari mac os x
With just a click, users can change their default Safari search engine to something other than Google, such as privacy-focused DuckDuckGo.

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 this box checked will display suggested search queries based upon the words you’ve thus far entered into the Safari address bar.

The Include search engine suggestions option can make searching for complex or long queries much quicker by providing a context-sensitive list of frequently searched for terms.

The other checkbox options include the following:

  • Safari Suggestions – Safari can offer you suggestions as you type which is useful but some people find annoying.
  • Enable Quick Website Search – This option enables Safari to cache the data from searches within websites, giving you faster access to the search results when you search in the future using the smart search field.
  • Preload Top Hit in the Background – When you have this box checked, Safari will preload the webpage that’s the top hit on your search, meaning that the website will load much faster if you do end up clicking on the first search result.
  • Show Favorites – When you check this box (which is usually checked by default) your Favorites Toolbar will display your Favorite websites. Favorites are like bookmarks except they show up more prominently in your Favorites toolbar.

Changing the Default for Safari – iPhone & iPad

Changing the defaults for Safari on Apple’s most popular mobile devices is a tad different from the instructions for a Mac. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad and would like to streamline your default search engine do this:

  1. Visit Settings on your mobile device
  2. Scroll down and tap on Safari
  3. Tap on Search Engine
  4. Select Google, Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo

You’re all set!

Changing the Default Search Engine – Other Browsers on Mac

Assuming you’re taking the leap to choose a different default search engine on Safari, you may also want to update your other browsers as well. Mac is a little different from PC, so your options to change defaults in browsers are slightly different across the board.

Change Default Search in Mozilla on Mac

Firefox fans can update their default search engine to Google, Bing,, DuckDuckGo, Twitter, eBay, and even Wikipedia. To make the switch do this:

  1. Tap on the three vertical lines in the far upper right-hand corner
  2. Click ‘Preferences’ from the menu
  3. Click ‘Search’ on the left-hand side
  4. Scroll down to ‘Default Search Engine’ and click on the dropdown

That’s all you need to do with Mozilla to start using your favorite website as your search option.

Change Default Search in Chrome on Mac

Chrome gives you the option to set your default search website to Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, or Ecosia. To do this:

  1. Click on the Menu option in the far upper right-hand corner (it looks like three vertical dots)
  2. Click Settings at the bottom of the menu
  3. You can either click Search Engine in the menu on the far right or scroll down until you see the ‘Search Engine’ option.
  4. Click on the drop down menu labled and choose your default search engine.

If you want to add your own search engine and it isn’t available in the drop-down, don’t get discouraged. Chrome lets you set any URL as your default search option. Click ‘Manage Search Engines’ below the drop-down box to access the option to add a custom engine to Chrome. Remember (now it’s – You can set that as your default if you’d like.

4 thoughts on “How to Change the Default Search Engine in Safari for Mac OS X”

Amer Neely says:
Found this solution that works on Safari 13.1.1.
Add this to your /etc/hosts file:

# add duckduckgo

Ensure DuckDuckGo is selected as your preferred SE

Lorena says:
I have the 2019 MacBook Pro and Safari is the ONLY thing in the drop down. You can change it in settings, but it does not add Google or Bing to the navigation bar. Anyone, help?
Greg Lewis says:
I have tried these steps but for some reason it keeps defaulting to Yahoo. Even though Google is listed in the preferences.
Any ideas? I am on an older MacBook Pro with OS-X.
Carl Stender says:
Any luck? I’m having the same issue
jon urch says:
me too! help!!!
Wahju says:
its happened to my Mac also
k says:
Me too! Doesn’t help rebooting either. I’m using a refurbished mac in High Sierra 10.13.2
mr.metropolis says:
to use a completely custom search engine, see the extension named “any search” here:

Comments are closed.

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