Consider other search engines for your browser

Switching search engines may be more of a mental challenge than anything else.

These days Google's popularity and reputation has made it the de facto standard for Web searches, and is enabled on many Web browsers by default. Even in speech, it's common to suggest "googling" some information, where terms like "yahooing" or "binging" are somewhat more obscure.

While Google's search results have been reliable, there are other options, some of which are fully supported in common browsers. So what keeps Google so preferred?

Perhaps many of us have simply become accustomed to using Google, so switching comes with a level of uncertainty that you might not wish to test, especially when you need a specific bit of information in a format that you're familiar with. However, even though Google will at least get you by in this respect, the same goes for alternative engines like Yahoo and Bing.

Search engine selection for Safari in OS X
In Safari, you can choose from Bing and Yahoo as the alternatives to the default Google search engine. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

While you might be cautious about switching to another provider, doing so is quite easy and in most browsers only takes a click or two.

  • Safari: Go to your browser's General preferences, and select the engine you want to use from the "Default search engine" drop-down menu.
  • Firefox and Opera: Click the provider icon to the left of the search field and choose from the list.
  • Chrome: Right-click the search bar, then choose "Manage Search Engines" where you can select another to use.

In most of these, you can pick from the top three (Google, Yahoo, and Bing), but other choices include Ask.com, AOL search (though this is enhanced by Google's engine), and some foreign search engines like Baidu and Yandex. An alternative is to use a toolbar extension that adds another search bar to your browser that is specific for a given provider, but these can cause problems that can more easily be avoided by using the browser's built-in searching functions.

Even if you don't have a reason and are content with your current search provider, you might consider trying another one for the next week or two, just to experiment with its differences. You could find after using it for a few days that it may address your needs better than your default choice. Even if you find yourself missing some features of the old search provider, try sticking with the change for a few more days and see whether you can make it work.



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