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

Posted by Jim Tanous on June 23, 2019
change safari search mac

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 perfect, and concerns over the company’s data gathering practices have led many macOS users to seek alternatives to the company’s services.

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.

Thankfully, users can change their default search engine in Safari, making quick and convenient searches with their search engine of choice such as DuckDuckgo. This 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.

How to change Default Search Engine for the Safari Web Browser on macOS

change search engine safari mac os x

Apple currently gives users a choice of four search engines.

  1. Open Safari and head to
  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 this 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.

You can now search the web more conveniently using your favorite search engine.

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 it 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 site will load much faster if you do end up clicking on the first search result.

If you enjoyed this TechJunkie article, you might also like this related article that will show you How to Trim Videos with Quick Look in macOS Mojave  Also, check out this article: How to Copy and Save Images from Safari on the Mac.

Fans of other search engines not mentioned here will be disappointed. Apple currently provides no end-user option for making Safari’s default search engine anything other than the four options above (or three, for users running older versions of OS X). Users looking for easy alternative search engines will have to turn to Safari Extensions, or possibly use another web browser.

Have you changed the default search engine used by Safari? What’ search engine did you choose and why did you choose it? Please leave a comment below.

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

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:

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