DuckDuckGo logo on a cellphone.
Image: Adobe Stock

The privacy-minded DuckDuckGo leads a full life as a search engine, a browser extension and a mobile app. But now it’s also accessible as a dedicated web browser for the Mac. With the DuckDuckGo browser for macOS, you can block third-party trackers, disable cookies, turn on HTTPS for websites and tighten other security and privacy via the browser settings. Let’s check it out.

DuckDuckGo is now in beta testing for macOS with a Windows version promised later in 2022. As such, you currently must request an invitation to use the Mac version. To do this, download and install the DuckDuckGo mobile app for iOS or Android. Go to Settings, select DuckDuckGo for Desktop, and then tap the button for Join the Private Waitlist.

When you’re granted access, you’ll receive a notification in the app providing a URL where you can download the program along with an invite code to enter. On your Mac, browse to the following URL The download should automatically kick off. Start the installation for the downloaded file and enter the invite code. Click Continue and then click Get Started.

The DuckDuckGo browser opens and offers to help you start using it. Click the Get Started button (Figure A).

Screen shot of how to use DuckDuckGo private browser for Mac
Figure A

If you wish, you can choose to import your bookmarks from a different browser or skip that step. Next, you can set DuckDuckGo as your default browser. The program then offers to show you how it tries to protect your privacy. By default, the browser allows trackers owned by whatever site you visit but blocks ones from third party websites.

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Surf to a website that normally would try to monitor you using third-party trackers. Click the DuckDuckGo shield icon at the start of the address field. The feature tells you how many trackers were blocked (Figure B).

Screenshot of browser protections
Figure B

Click the entry for Trackers blocked to see which ones were allowed and which were blocked (Figure C).

Screenshot of blocked trackers.
Figure C

Continue browsing to different websites. To see a list of all the sites you’ve browsed along with the tracking data, open a new tab. The page tells you how many tracking attempts were blocked overall and how many for each site (Figure D).

Screenshot of DuckDuckGo blocked trackers.
Figure D

As you continue to browse more sites, cookies and other browsing data are collected. To remove them all in one fell swoop, click the fire icon in the upper right and then click the Got it button. At the next screen, click the Details arrow to see which sites will be included in this purge and then click the Clear button (Figure E).

Screenshot of clearing cookies.
Figure E

You can tweak certain privacy settings for the DuckDuckGo browser. Click the ellipsis icon in the upper right and select Settings. Click the setting for Privacy. By default, the browser removes cookies for sites that you visit. But, you can tell it to “fireproof” certain sites for which you want to keep cookies to allow you to stay signed in. To do this, make sure the box is checked for Ask to Fireproof websites when signing in.

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Next, many websites will ask you if you wish to allow cookies. The DuckDuckGo browser can automatically detect these types of consent notifications and set your preferences to minimize cookies. For this, check the box for Cookie Consent Pop-ups.

Finally, Global Privacy Control, or GPC, is a specification under the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and Europe’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) through which you can tell websites not to track you or sell or share your personal information. DuckDuckGo is one of the few browsers that directly supports GPC. To enable this option, check the box for Global Privacy Control (GPC) (Figure F).

Screenshot of DuckDuckGo privacy settings.
Figure F