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.

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.

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.

Did this article answer the question, “How do I change my search engine on Safari?” What’ search engine did you change to and why did you choose it? What are your primary criteria for choosing a search engine? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

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

Avatar 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?
Avatar 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.
Avatar Carl Stender says:
Any luck? I’m having the same issue
Avatar jon urch says:
me too! help!!!
Avatar Wahju says:
its happened to my Mac also
Avatar k says:
Me too! Doesn’t help rebooting either. I’m using a refurbished mac in High Sierra 10.13.2
Avatar mr.metropolis says:
to use a completely custom search engine, see the extension named “any search” here:

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