How to change the default search engine in Android

google search actions
Derek Walter

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This may sound odd, but you don’t have to use Google as the default choice when you search for something on Android. 

There’s a clever trick, specifically if you’re using the Google Now Launcher, that allows you to use DuckDuckGo, Bing, or even searching directly in Firefox

Here is the best way to live on the edge and ditch Google search on your Android phone or tablet.

Get the Google Now launcher

The method I’m describing here works with the Google Now Launcher, which works on all Android devices running 4.1 Jelly Bean or above. The key feature here is that you can hold the home button and swipe up to go directly into search. 

The specific action on your device may be different depending upon your soft or hardware button configuration. 

complete action

You don’t have to search with Google every time from the Android home screen if you don’t want to.

Once you install another search app you’ll get a choice the next time you perform this action. Android will ask which app you wish to use. You can select an alternative for “just once” or “always,” which of course will make it the default.

One of the most interesting uses of this is with the Firefox browser. When you install the Firefox Android app, it adds in an option to launch Firefox search. This then takes you right into Firefox. If you have a specific search engine preference, however, you’ll then need to adjust that with the browser instead of the Android settings.

Note that the Google search bar still remains dedicated to Google search, even if you change the default search for the swipe-up action. 

How to change it back to Google

When your experiment is over and you want to run back for the safe grasslands of Google, you’ll need to reset your app preferences.

Head to Settings > Apps and then touch the specific app you want to change (the search app you chose instead of Google). Then touch the “clear defaults” button.

android app defaults

Change the default apps anytime by hopping into the settings menu.

If you want to completely mix things up and reset all of your defaults at once there’s a method for also. Again the settings, select apps from the device menu. Touch the three vertical buttons at the top right and select “reset app preferences.”

reset app preferences

When you reset the app preferences you can change the default search engine, browser, email app, and other choices.

Just remember that this won’t only reset your default search option. It will also change the default for your browser, music player, email program, and other apps. What this means is when you click a link, Android will ask if you want to open it with Chrome or any other browsers you have installed on your device. Only go this route if you don’t mind choosing default apps for a bunch of actions all over again.

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