Introducing DuckDuckGo for Mac: A Private, Fast, and Secure Browsing App

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Privacy isn’t something you only need in certain situations or in partial amounts, and it’s a myth that you can’t have the same Internet you like and need, but with more privacy. At DuckDuckGo, we make privacy simple.

For example, our mobile apps make privacy the default, with no complicated settings, no need to understand the ins and outs of the technology, just built-in privacy protections that work, like private search, tracker blocking, website encryption (HTTPS upgrading), and email protection. You've downloaded them over 150M times since their launch in 2018, and we’ve heard your feedback that you want this same “privacy, simplified” experience on your desktops and laptops.

So today we’re excited to announce the beta launch of DuckDuckGo for Mac, with DuckDuckGo for Windows coming soon. Like our mobile app, DuckDuckGo for Mac is an all-in-one privacy solution for everyday browsing with no complicated settings, just a seamless private experience. Plus, we’re excited to share some new features we think you’ll love.

Introducing DuckDuckGo for Mac

Using an app designed to protect your privacy by default not only reduces invasive tracking, it also speeds up browsing and eliminates many everyday annoyances like cookie consent pop-ups. Here’s what you need to know:

  • DuckDuckGo for Mac gives you privacy by default. With one download you get our built-in private search engine, powerful tracker blocker, *new* cookie pop-up protection on approximately 50% of sites (with that % growing significantly throughout beta), Fire Button (one-click data clearing), email protection and more – all for free. No complicated privacy settings, just simple privacy protection that works by default.
  • DuckDuckGo for Mac is really fast! By using your computer’s built-in website rendering engine (the same one Safari uses), and by blocking trackers before they load (unlike all the major browsers), you’ll get really fast browsing. We’re already faster than Chrome on some graphics performance (using the Motion Mark 1.2. benchmark) and as an additional benefit, by blocking trackers, DuckDuckGo uses about 60% less data than Chrome!
  • DuckDuckGo for Mac is built for security. Our built-in Smarter Encryption ensures you navigate to the encrypted (HTTPS) version of a website more often, and our tracker blocking means less exposure to third-party scripts that could try to access your data. And we design our product so that in-app data, like history, bookmarks, and passwords, by default are only stored locally on your device and aren’t accessible to DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo for Mac isn't simply a replacement for “Incognito mode” (which isn't actually private!) – instead DuckDuckGo for Mac is designed to be used as an everyday browser that truly protects your privacy. We have the features you expect from a browser like password management, tab management, bookmarks, and more, plus privacy features you’ll love.

Gif showing cookie pop-up management in action.
Tired of dealing with cookie consent pop-ups? Not only does DuckDuckGo for Mac clear them for you on many sites, we also automatically set your preferences to minimize cookies and maximize your privacy.
Gif of a user clearing browsing data with the Fire Button
Our privacy feed lets you see who we caught trying to track you, lets you clear any stored data from websites you recently visited, and helps you easily navigate back to recent pages privately.
Facebook tries to get around tracker blockers by putting trackers in embedded content. When this happens, we block this content from loading by default, while still letting you opt-in to view it if desired.

Our initial testers love it!

Join the private waitlist.

To get access to the beta of DuckDuckGo for Mac, all you need to do is join the private waitlist. We're letting new people off the waitlist today, maybe even as you read this sentence, so the sooner you join, the sooner you'll get it. Please be patient with us though! We'll be inviting people in waves and improving the app as feedback comes in.

You won’t need to share any personal information to join. Instead, you’ll secure your place in line with a date and time that exists solely on your device, and we’ll notify you when we’re ready for you to join.

Here’s how you can join the private waitlist:

  1. Download the DuckDuckGo mobile app (or update to the latest version)
  2. Open Settings > DuckDuckGo for Desktop (in the "More from DuckDuckGo" section).
  3. Click “Join the Private Waitlist.”
  4. When you’re granted an invite code, you’ll get a notification from the app. The notification will take you to an invite code and a link to the download page to be opened on your desktop/laptop.

Mac only please! Windows is coming -- Follow us on Twitter for updates.

If you try the new app, we’d love to hear from you! You can submit feedback and report issues by clicking on the settings menu in the top right corner of the window and selecting “Send Feedback”.

Note that during this beta period, DuckDuckGo for Mac is not available in the Mac App Store and is not to be confused with our DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials Safari Extension that is currently available in the Mac App Store.

Beta & Beyond.

DuckDuckGo for Mac being in beta means that the experience is still evolving.

For example, you may notice we don't yet support extensions. Turns out the most popular extensions are password managers and those that protect you from creepy ads. So, we built these features right into our app, which has benefits for privacy, security, speed, and simplicity.  We're working on how to provide additional extension functionality without compromising those critical elements, but in the meantime we’re confident our built-in features can meet your needs.

Blocking Creepy Ads

Our built-in tracker blocker isn’t a general “ad blocker”, but it does have the effect of blocking most creepy ads. Let me explain. Using our best-in-class tracker data set we block invasive trackers, which then typically blocks the invasive ads themselves. In other words, if you use an ad blocker to avoid creepy ads and tracking, you should like DuckDuckGo for Mac.

Password Manager

Using a new browsing app doesn’t mean you have to lose your saved usernames and passwords. Our built-in password manager helps you import passwords from other browsers and browser extensions like 1Password or LastPass. We’re still in the process of building password management into our mobile apps and plan to offer private sync of passwords and bookmarks for a cohesive cross-device experience.

Screenshot showing how to import passwords and bookmarks into the browser
You can easily import your bookmarks and passwords from Safari, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, 1Password, and LastPass into our built-in secure password manager.

Protecting your privacy really is that simple.

At DuckDuckGo our mission is to show the world that protecting privacy is simple. We know that in order to do this we must build apps that are a pleasure to use and provide as comprehensive privacy protection as possible, whether you're on your phone, at your desk, in a hammock, or somewhere else that is even nicer than a hammock, DuckDuckGo for Mac is a major step in this direction, and we thank you in advance for helping us make it even better!

If you’re still reading you probably want a peek under the hood!

What makes DuckDuckGo for Mac unique is more than just what you see, it’s also how it is built.  A traditional browser is made up of two parts: a rendering engine that translates web code into the websites you see, and then everything else that surrounds and supports that interface like bookmarks, tabs, settings, password management, tracker blocking, etc.

Over the past decade, the most common way new browsers have been developed is through a process known as “forking”. Developers copy (“fork”) a browser like Chrome (technically the project they fork is called Chromium) – and start with both the rendering engine and all the pieces that surround it. Then they build new stuff on top of it (and/or delete/change some of the Chromium code) to create the new browser.

DuckDuckGo for Mac does not fork Chromium (or anything else). Instead, we use the rendering engine that comes with macOS, which is created by Apple and the same rendering engine Safari uses. By building off the macOS rendering engine, our browser should also be most compatible with the Mac system (the same as Safari). Technically, we don’t have to “fork” any code to do this – we just call an API provided by macOS.

We are building everything else from scratch. So beyond rendering, all the code is ours – written by DuckDuckGo engineers with privacy, security, and simplicity front of mind. This means we don’t have the cruft and clutter that has accumulated in browsers over the years, both in code and design, giving you a modern look and feel and a faster speed. We plan to open source our Mac app after the beta period, like we’ve done for our iOS & Android app, and many of our built-in privacy protections are already open sourced.

We are taking a similar approach to Windows (more on that later this year). Ultimately, we’d love to support Linux as well, but we are focused on Mac and Windows for now. Follow us on Twitter if you'd like to stay up to date on our latest product announcements and how we're continuing to make "Privacy, simplified" a reality.

Introducing DuckDuckGo for Mac: A Private, Fast, and Secure Browsing App
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