How to Change a Default Search Engine

by Carol Finch

If you would rather use a different search engine than your browser's default, switch by making a few settings changes. The switching process varies, depending on the browser and the availability of the search engine you want to use. Some browsers automatically list alternative options; others require you to install them as add-ons or extensions.

Change Search Engine in Internet Explorer

Select the arrow icon from the search bar. Select Add to open the Internet Explorer Gallery. You have to add search engines as add-ons in Internet Explorer.

Choose the search engine you want to add from the list. If it isn't there, search for it, select it from the results and select Add to Internet Explorer. On the next screen, select Add to Internet Explorer again.

How to install an add-on in IE

Check the Make This My Default Search Provider box and select Add. Tick Search Suggestions to see popular terms when you search using Google.

How to set a default search engine in Internet Explorer

Close down and reopen Internet Explorer. Your search should now default to your new search engine.

Tip

  • If you see a message that a search engine is already installed when adding it, go to the gear wheel icon at the top of the page. Select Manage Add-Ons and open Search Providers. Highlight the engine in the list and select the Set as Default and Close buttons. You can also use this menu to add and remove search engines, and switch defaults.

Change Search Engine in Firefox

Select the magnifying glass icon on the search bar and open Change Search Settings.

How to change a default search engine in Firefox

Choose a new search engine from the menu in the Default Search Engine area. If the one you want is not in the list, select Add More Search Engines.

Find a list of search engines in Firefox

Tip

  • Use this menu if you ever want to remove search engines. Select the name and then Remove.

Choose an engine from the Add-Ons page or search for it. When you find the one you want, hover your mouse over it and select the Add to Firefox button. If the Add-on button is green, it's compatible with your system.

How to add a search engine Add-on to Firefox

Check the Make This the Current Search Engine box on the confirmation window and select Add.

Make a search engine the current default in Firefox

Change Search Engine in Chrome

Go to the Customize and Control Google Chrome button, the icon with three lines, and select Settings.

How to add a search engine in Chrome

Go to the Search area and select a search engine from the list to set it as the new default. Chrome presets a few search engines for you. If the engine you want is not there, select Manage Search Engines.

How to set a default search engine in Chrome

To add a search engine that isn't in the list, enter it manually. Type its name in the Add a New Search Engine box, a keyword shortcut in the Keyword box and its address in the URL With %s in Place of Query box. Chrome won't accept a basic Web address, so you need to enter the URL for the engine's search page. Open the search engine in your browser and use it to search for something. Copy the URL from the results page and look for q= in the string. Replace the text after the equals sign with %s and paste the amended URL in the box. Select Done.

How to install a search engine manually in Chrome

Select Manage Search Engines and hover your mouse over the search engine you added. Select Make Default and Done.

Tip

  • Use the Manage Search Engines tool to remove a search engine from your browser by hovering your mouse over its name and select X. You can't delete the default engine. To remove that, switch the default to another engine first.

Change Search Engine in Safari

Select the magnifying glass icon on the search bar and select the search engine you want to use from the list.

How to change search engine in Safari

Safari for PCs limits options to Google, Yahoo and Bing. To use others, you must add them as extensions and use them in the main address bar; you cannot set them to replace the three defaults in the Search bar. Go to the gear wheel icon to open Settings and select Safari Extensions.

How to add extensions in Safari

Search for the search engine and select Install Now. The Extension's button should appear on the Safari toolbar. Select the button and make sure that the default box is ticked. Safari will now use this search engine whenever you search from the Address bar.

How to use a search engine Extension in Safari

Tip

    • Apple stopped releasing PC versions of Safari after version 5, and offers limited search engine extensions for Windows users. If you don't see the one you want to use, stick with the defaults, choose a different extension, or switch to using a different browser. 
    • You can't remove default search engines from Safari.

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About the Author

Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.