DuckDuckGo’s privacy-centric browser appears on Mac

DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused browsing app is available as a beta version for Mac, but you must join a private waiting list to gain access. Just like the mobile browser app, DuckDuckGo on Mac uses the DuckDuckGo search engine by default, automatically blocks web trackers, and has the famous “fire” button that burns your browsing history and tabs with a single click.

The browsing app also has a new feature designed to help block those annoying cookie consent pop-ups that appear when you first open a website. DuckDuckGo says it will delete them on 50 percent of websites while automatically selecting the option that blocks or minimizes the cookies that track you.

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

You also get access to a privacy feed that appears on DuckDuckGo’s home page. It looks a bit like the privacy report on Safari’s homepage, but instead of just showing how many trackers it’s blocked, it breaks down tracking by site and lets you delete data on each one. In addition, DuckDuckGo does not load content on websites – like Facebook – that insert trackers into embedded content. Instead, a notification will appear warning you about the tracking and asking if you want to continue.

DuckDuckGo will not load content on websites that try to bypass tracker blockers.
Image: DuckDuckGo

Some other perks include a built-in password manager (which DuckDuckGo says it’s working on bringing to the mobile app), the ability to sync passwords, history, and bookmarks from other browsers, and that Smarter Encryption Tool that redirects you to websites that more commonly use encrypted HTTPS connections. DuckDuckGo also says it stores your bookmarks, history, and passwords locally and the company cannot access that information.

As we noted in our first post about DuckDuckGo’s new browser, DuckDuckGo for Mac does not fork an existing browser like Chrome. It is based on the rendering engine used by Safari, also known as WebKit. For this reason, DuckDuckGo claims that its browser is faster than Chrome “at some graphics performance” as measured by the MotionMark 1.2 benchmark, and that it uses 60 percent less data than Chrome (which we all know has a RAM Hog is).

“Beyond rendering, all code is ours—written by DuckDuckGo engineers with privacy, security, and simplicity in mind,” says Beah Burger-Lenehan, senior director of product at DuckDuckGo, in the post. “It means we no longer have the clutter and clutter that browsers have accumulated over the years, both in code and design, giving you a modern look and feel and increased speed.”

To be added to the browser waitlist, download (or update) the DuckDuckGo app on mobile. Then go to Settings and select DuckDuckGo for desktop under the Privacy section. You’ll have to wait to receive a notification from the app containing an invite code and a link to download the browser on your Mac. DuckDuckGo says it’s currently letting people into the beta in waves.

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

The one thing I’m really excited about in DuckDuckGo’s new browser is the cookie consent blocker (which I hope he can bring to mobile at some point). I’m curious how many notifications it can Yes, really blocking and whether this has an impact on performance. It also begs 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 features.

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