How to Change the Search Engine in Safari for Mac OS X
Mac users who favor the Safari browser as their primary means of web access in Mac OS X may find it helpful to switch the search engine used by default in Safari. This determines which web search tool is used through the URL address bar and elsewhere in Safari.
Safari allows you to choose between the four major web search engine choices to use as the default in search engine in Safari, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. Each of which are great choices that have a variety of benefits. Of course Google is the default, but some users prefer DuckDuckGo or Bing, or even Yahoo. Mac users can change the default search engine in Safari at any time, as this tutorial will demonstrate.
Changing the Default Search Engine in Safari in Mac OS X
Setting the default search engine in Safari for Mac OS is possible in all versions, here’s how you can quickly do so:
- Open Safari if you’re not there yet, and then pull down the “Safari” menu and choose “Preferences”
- Go to the “Search” tab* and select the search engine you wish to use from the “Search engine” pull down menu:
*Note the above instructions are for modern versions of Safari in Mac OS X, older versions of Safari in Mac OS X will find the ability to change the search engine under the ‘General’ preferences tab
Each search engine has it’s own strengths and benefits, but ultimately it’s up to user preference to decide which search engine to use as their default choice. For me personally, I like and prefer Google which is also likely the most popular choice, but many users like the rewards and results offered by Bing, and some opt for the privacy of DuckDuckGo, what you use to search the web is truly a matter of personal preference, and there’s little harm in trying out each one to determine which you like best.
With the search engine changed to your web search of choice, you can immediately check or test the new search by using any of the Safari web search functions, whether that’s searching from the URL address bar, the right-click menu, from the Finder, TextEdit, Preview, and other Mac apps, or Spotlight.
Making the change to suit your search preference should be particularly helpful for users who have chosen Safari as their default web browser in Mac OS X, since it will carry over to each of the aforementioned search options from Safari and elsewhere in the Mac operating system.
If you’re confused, or just want to see exactly how this works, the short video below demonstrates how quick and easy it is to change the default web search option in Safari on the Mac:
By the way, now that you’ve switched the web search tool in Safari on the Mac, you may wish to perform the same search engine change on Safari in iOS too, which is just as easy.
Troubleshooting: Why did the default search engine change itself in Safari?
Safari should not change the search engine used by the application on it’s own.
If you discover that your default web search engine changed itself in Safari on the Mac, particularly if the search engine was changed to some junk no-name web search service that is heavy on ads and junk results, you may have inadvertently installed adware onto the Mac which made that modification to the search engine.
If you find yourself in that somewhat unusual situation, you can use a free tool like MalwareBytes Anti-Malware to scan the Mac for adware and malware which may have changed your search engine choice without your permission. This is a fairly rare circumstance, but it can happen, and if Safari has suddenly started changing the default web page and default search engine to junky services, those are two prominent indicators of such a situation.
Another theoretical situation where Safari may change its search engine seemingly out of nowhere is if a particular browser plugin or extension was installed, or if a custom search was set, but Safari preferences were reset. You can remove and disable extensions and plugins in Safari easily through the app preferences as well.