How to change the default search engine on Google Chrome

How to change the default search engine on Google Chrome

Google Chrome is by far the most popular browser out there, and it’s fair to say that success is tied to the popularity of the company’s search engine. Google has been the go-to search engine for most people for well over a decade, and it makes perfect sense for it to be the default option. But there are some users who might like Google Chrome but don’t want to use Google as the default search engine.

Whether it’s because you want something with a heavier emphasis on privacy, like DuckDuckGo, or a more novel alternative like the environment-friendly Ecosia, changing the default search engine on Google Chrome is a relatively painless process. We’ll show you how to do it, and just for clarification, we’re doing this on Windows 11, but the procedure should be the same on other platforms where Chrome is available.

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How to change the default search engine in Chrome

Out of the box, Google gives you a few options for search engines you can use as the default. If you want to change your default, do the following:

  • Launch Google Chrome on your computer.
  • Click the menu button (the three dots) near the top-right corner of the browser window, and then choose Settings.
  • In the Settings page, choose the Search engine tab on the left-side menu.
  • You’ll see a list of search engines to choose from, so you can simply choose what you prefer.
  • The search engine you chose will now be used when you search in the address bar, and you’ll also see it on the default new tab page.

That should help you if the search engine you want to use is on the default list. But what if it isn’t? You can also add a new search engine to Chrome relatively easily.

Adding a new search engine

Unlike Microsoft Edge, for instance, Google doesn’t automatically add every search engine you visit to the list above. Instead, when you visit a website that registers as a search engine, such as YouTube, Chrome will recognize it but put it on a list of inactive shortcuts. This means it takes a little more work to add a new one, but it might also be useful to prevent the list from being flooded with all kinds of pages that register as search engines.

In order to add a search engine, first you’ll want to visit its website and perform any search. Once you do, that website will be added to the inactive shortcuts list we just mentioned. You can find this list by following the steps above to go to the Search engine page, and then choose Manage search engines and site search. Your “inactive shortcuts” are at the bottom of this page.

You can activate your desired search engine to add it to the primary list, or click the three-dot button next to it and then Make default so it becomes your default search engine right away.

Using the Activate button makes it so you can use that search engine by typing in the keyword listed, pressing Space or Tab, and then typing your search query. This makes it easy to search using a specific search engine for a specific query, without changing your default for every search.

If the search engine you want to use isn’t automatically recognized by Chrome, you can also add it manually using the Add button under Site search. However, sites added manually can’t be set as the default search engine for all your searches. You can only use these by using the associated keyword before typing your query.


And that’s about all there is to changing the default search engine in Google Chrome. Like we said, it’s not a very complicated process, but if you’ve never done it before, you might not know exactly how to find your way around. If you’re interested in changing your default browser to Google Chrome (or anything else), you might also want to check out how to change your default browser in Windows 11. And if you decide to stick with Microsoft’s official browser, we also have a guide on how to change the default search engine in Edge.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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