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How to change the default search engine in Chrome

Google is the default search engine in Chrome and because it is the most popular search engine today, not many people are interested in changing it. That said, Chrome doesn’t tie you down to its default search engine and you’re free to pick whichever one you want to use. If you’re search engine has been changed by an extension, or an app on your system, you can change that as well. Here’s how.

Chrome Default Search Engine

There are two ways to change the default search in Chrome. You can change it by visiting the home page for the search engine, or you can change it from Chrome’s own settings.

Search Engine home page

Search engines compete with each other for users. When a search engine detects that it is not the default one in your browser, it gives you a one-click button to set it as the default search engine.

Take bing for example. If you visit this bing page you will see a button that allows you to set it as the default search engine. You will need to install an app to get the job done and that may not be something you’re comfortable with. Additionally, not all search engines offer a similar option which is why you should know how you can change the search engine from Chrome’s settings.

Chrome settings

Open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right. From the menu that opens, select ‘Settings’. On the Settings page, scroll down to the Search Engine section.

You may already have a bunch of search engines added if you frequently search a particular website for something. Open the ‘Search engine used in the address bar’ dropdown and view the already added search engines. If you see the one you want to use, select it.

If you do not see the search engine you want to use, click Manage Search engines.

Before you can add a search engine, you need the correct search query URL for it. You can look it up with Google, or most other search engines. For example, for DuckDuckGo, you need to enter;

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s&atb=v81-4__

On the Manage search engines page, click Add, and enter the URL in the query field. Give the search engine a name and a keyword. Click save. Next, click the more options button next to the newly added search engine, and select Make default.

Malicious extensions and apps

Chrome is proactive with respect to extensions changing default settings in the browser. It will alert you when an extension has changed your default search engine however, if you’re unable to change it back try the following;

  1. Uninstall the extension, or desktop app, that’s forcing the change. Chrome can boot extensions that are malicious but desktop apps can and do change the default search engine and browsers don’t have much control over them. Once you’ve removed the app/extension, you should be able to set the default search engine in Chrome to whatever you want.
  2. You can reset Chrome to get rid of malicious extensions that have taken control of the browsers. In this case, you do not want to back up and restore your Chrome profile folder as that too may be infected. To reset Chrome, open the Browser and click the more options button. Select Settings from the menu, scroll down the settings page, and click Advanced. Scroll to the very end, and click Clean Up Computer. After the clean up is complete, return to this same settings’ area and click Restore settings to their original defaults.

If you’re still unable to get rid of a malicious extension or app, use an anti-virus to scan your system and remove it.

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