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Duck­DuckGo bangs


by  Kim Schmider on Tuesday, 06. March, 2018 at 07:50 pm


One feature of DuckDuckGo, often overlooked when assessing this search engin, is bangs. This feature grants you a great efficiency boost while browsing for content which you already know the general location of. It is done through straightaway redirects to search pages on different sites.


# What's a bang?

A bang is an abbreviation of a website name following an ! (exclamation mark) character and allows you to directly search websites other than DuckDuckGo itself. Take the search term cat videos, for instance. If you know you want to search the website YouTube, append !yt to your search term on DuckDuckGo. When you hit Enter, instead of seeing the usual search result page of DuckDuckGo, you are immediately redirected to YouTube's search result page, saving you several clicks.

I personally find this most useful with dictionaries, as I'm not a native English speaker and frequently discover new words that I may not know the meaning of. The query notwithstanding!dcc immediately sends me to the German-English dictionary dict.cc showing me the translation. This particular case is even more practical than the example of YouTube, since you don't actually have to click at all, as the desired result is displayed right away.

# The full list of bangs

To view all available bangs, visit this page. If you are looking for a specific website, type it into DuckDuckGo followed by !bang and it will return the appropriate bang abbreviation. Some of the most useful bangs include !m for Google Maps, !i for Google Images and !t for Thesaurus.com.

DuckDuckGo bang page

Many bangs are also self-explanatory, GitHub, for example, apart from having the bang !gh assigned, can also be acessed with !github. This means that if you want to quickly use a bang that you do not know, you can try the written-out variant. DuckDuckGo additionally provides search suggestions which also include bangs.

# Using bangs with URLs

You can also use bangs with URLs; by typing a URL followed by !save, for example, you can save a web page on the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive. To retrieve this page at a later time use !wayback instead.

Beware that you may need to explicitly choose to start a DuckDuckGo search, when typing this query into the address bar. This will prevent the search term being interpreted as a URL by the browser:

Explicitly choose to search instead of visiting the URL

To bypass this issue, you could also prepend the URL with the bang followed by a space:

Place the bang before the URL to prevent misinterpretation

# Localization

One thing you have to watch out for, when using this outside of English-speaking countries, is that the results of bangs are affected by your location. Take Wikipedia as an example, which has the bang !w associated with it. Because I am located in Austria, the search term pink floyd!w redirects me to de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Floyd. If I was in another country, I would be redirected to the appropriate localized result.

When I am interested in an English Wikipedia article, though, I can simply use !we instead of !w to be redirected to the English page. Respective bangs are avaliable for other countries as well, e.g. !wde for de.wikipedia.org or !wpl for pl.wikipedia.org.

If you are not interested in localized search results or want to change your location, visit the DuckDuckGo Settings Page. On here you can either choose another location under Region or set the option to All Regions for the default setting. Note that this may affect regular search results as well.

DuckDuckGo region setting

# Bangs on mobile

When browsing with DuckDuckGo on mobile, you have to take note of websites which have separate mobile sites. If you are acessing dict.cc using !dcc, for example, you wil run into the problem of being redirected to the desktop-optimized page. To land on the mobile site of dict.cc, instead use the bang !mdcc. Most websites will automatically redirect you to the correct page so that remembering another bang is not necessary.

# Submitting your own bangs

On the previously mentioned page listing all available bangs, you can find a link to this page titled Make a suggestion!. On this page you can submit a bang to any website, whether you own it or not.

Most of the fields of the form are self-explanatory. In the field Bang url enter the url of the search page, using {{{s}}} as a variable that will contain the search term minus the bang.

# Conclusion

To sum up, I can say that bangs have greatly enhanced my browsing experience and it is a feature that I would not even come up with before discovering it. With most bangs being straightforward, i.e., either the full name of the website or its common abbreviation, you can use them right off the bat. If you need to check it, though, the bang !bang is available and even allows user submissions.