DuckDuckGo browser for Mac is now available in beta
The DuckDuckGo browser for Mac has been released in beta. The search engine had revealed plans to launch a desktop browser in December 2021.
DuckDuckGo for Mac – an overview
It’s no surprise to anyone that privacy takes center stage in DuckDuckGo for Mac, powered by the company’s private search engine. The application is presented as designed for security and privacy which works by default, because in addition to tab management and bookmark management, the browser has a built-in ad blocker, tracking blocker to block scripts, the HTTPS upgrade forces sites to load their secure portal.
The browser has a privacy feed that lists websites that attempted to track you (and were blocked). Embedded content that is blocked on pages (like Facebook trackers) will display a banner to indicate that the trackers have been blocked, and users can optionally view them if needed.
DuckDuckGo for Mac also has an automatic cookie pop-up management system, which will minimize cookies to protect your privacy and close annoying pop-ups you encounter on websites. This mechanism currently works on about 50% of sites, and will be improved as the beta test progresses.
The desktop program retains the mobile app’s Fire button, which deletes all your browsing data with a single click. Likewise, it offers email protection, an email alias service that hides your real email address and forwards mail to your regular inbox without trackers. Users can bring their bookmarks from other browsers, and also import passwords from Safari, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and services like 1Password and LastPass. DuckDuckGo says it is working on including password management in its mobile apps and will offer private synchronization of passwords and bookmarks across all devices.
What engine does DuckDuckGo for Mac use?
This is not a chrome fork. The engine under the hood uses Apple Safari’s Webkit rendering engine. DuckDuckGo claims that its browser, which it built from scratch using only the WKWebView APIis faster than Chrome in some graphics performance, and uses 60% fewer trackers blocking data before it loads.
DuckDuckGo for Mac does not yet support extensions. The announcement says the most popular browser extensions are ad blockers and password managers, and the company says the app’s built-in features will meet those requirements. The source code of the browser is not yet available, it will be made open source after the beta period.
Feature Overview of DuckDuckGo Browser for Mac
- Automatic management of cookie pop-ups
- Based on Apple Safari’s Webkit rendering engine
- Bookmark management
- Built-in ad blocker + tracker blocker
- Email Protection
- Fire button to delete all data in one click
- HTTPS upgrade
- Password manager + ability to import from other services
DuckDuckGo Browser roadmap
- Support for extensions under consideration
- Linux version is planned but not in development at the moment
- Password and bookmark synchronization across all devices
- Windows version by the end of the year
DuckDuckGo Browser for Windows
CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, replied certain user requests on Twitter. He confirmed that the company was evaluating opportunities for additional support. The Windows version of the browser is currently being developed alongside the Mac app and will be released later this year. Weinberg also clarified that a Linux version is in the plans, but it hasn’t been worked on yet.
How to Join the DuckDuckGo Browser for Mac Beta Program
You will need to join a waiting list to try out the app and get an invite code.
1. Download the DuckDuckGo mobile app on your iPhone or Android mobile.
2. Press the Settings button.
3. Scroll down to the “More DuckDuckGo” section.
4. You should see the DuckDuckGo Desktop App option. Press the “Join Private Waitlist” button to sign up for the beta program.
5. The app will show a notification with an invite code (when a slot is available) and a link to download the browser to your Mac.
Note: If you don’t see the Waitlist option in the mobile app, update it to the latest version.
Please note that I did not test the DuckDuckGo browser for macOS, and as such cannot comment on its performance or the quality of its ad blocker, eg compared to uBlock Origin etc. You should treat this article as an overview of the app’s features.
Images Courtesy: DuckDuckGo
The first user reviews seem positive. From what I can tell, the desktop app seems to be very similar to the mobile version, which I regularly use on my Android phone (with Firefox Nightly + list of custom addons). I’m intrigued by the features of the Mac app, so I’ll keep an eye out for the development of the Windows version and its release date. Speaking of which, The Verge mentions that the DuckDuckGo for Windows will be powered by Microsoft Edge WebView2.
Have you tried DuckDuckGo for macOS? Share your experiences with us.