DuckDuckGo’s privacy-centric browser is coming to Mac

DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused browsing app is available in beta on Mac, but you’ll need to join a private waitlist to access it. Just like the mobile browsing app, DuckDuckGo on Mac uses the default DuckDuckGo search engine, automatically blocks web trackers, and comes with the infamous “Fire” button that burns your browsing history and tabs with just one click.

The browser app also comes with a new feature that’s supposed to help block those pesky cookie consent pop-ups that appear when you first open a website. DuckDuckGo says it will clear them on 50% of sites, while automatically selecting the option that blocks or minimizes cookies that follow you. Allison Goodman, senior communications manager at DuckDuckGo, said The edge that the company plans to increase this coverage “significantly” as the beta progresses.

DuckDuckGo’s privacy feed breaks down tracking attempts by site.
Image: DuckDuckGo

You will also have access to a privacy feed that appears on the DuckDuckGo homepage. It’s a bit like the privacy report on Safari’s homepage, but instead of just showing how many trackers it’s blocked, it breaks down the tracking by site and lets you clear the data on each one. Additionally, DuckDuckGo will not load content on sites – like Facebook – that place trackers in embedded content. It will instead show a notification that will alert you to the tracking and ask if you want to continue.

DuckDuckGo will not load content on sites that attempt to circumvent tracker blockers.
Image: DuckDuckGo

Some other goodies include a built-in password manager (which DuckDuckGo says it’s working on bringing to the mobile app), the ability to import passwords, history, and bookmarks from other browsers. , as well as its Smarter Encryption tool which directs you to sites that more often use encrypted HTTPS connections. DuckDuckGo also says it stores your bookmarks, history, and passwords locally, and the company can’t access this information.

As we noted in our first post about DuckDuckGo’s new browser, DuckDuckGo for Mac doesn’t fork out an existing browser like Chrome. It is built from the rendering engine used by Safari, also known as WebKit. Because of this, DuckDuckGo claims its browser is faster than Chrome “on certain graphics performance” measured using the MotionMark 1.2 benchmark, and it says it uses 60% less data than Chrome (which we all know be a RAM pig).

“Beyond rendering, all code is ours – written by DuckDuckGo engineers with privacy, security, and simplicity in mind,” said Beah Burger-Lenehan, senior product manager for DuckDuckGo, in the post. “It means we don’t have the dirt and clutter that has built up in browsers over the years, both in code and design, giving you a modern look and faster speed.”

To join the browser waitlist, download (or update) the DuckDuckGo app on mobile. Next, head to Settings and select the DuckDuckGo for Desktop option under the Privacy section. You’ll have to wait to receive a notification from the app, which will contain an invite code and a link you can use to download the browser to your Mac. DuckDuckGo says it’s currently allowing people to access the beta in waves.

As for Windows, DuckDuckGo says an app – built using the operating system’s default Chromium-based Edge renderer – is “coming soon”. DuckDuckGo also hopes to bring its browser to Linux in the future, but says it’s primarily focused on Windows and Mac for now.

The one thing I’m really looking forward to with DuckDuckGo’s new browser, however, is its cookie consent blocker (which it will hopefully bring to mobile at some point). I’m curious to see how many notifications it can really block, and whether it has a performance impact. There’s also the question of how DuckDuckGo’s browser compares to Brave, a Chromium fork already available on Mac, Windows, and Linux that offers some of the same ad and tracker blocking capabilities.

Updated April 12 at 12:40 p.m. ET: Update to add that DuckDuckGo plans to expand its cookie consent blocker beyond 50%.

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