How to set up your browser for private search in iOS 17

Safari continues to add new privacy features

Apple has quietly added another privacy option to Safari, allowing you to set a different one search engine only when you use private browsing. Here's how to do it.

Safari introduced private browsing mode in 2004. If you don't want Safari to save your browsing history or track usernames so it can suggest them again the next time you visit a site, you use private browsing.

It has been improved since Apple launched Private Relay in 2021.

But it seems that this is not enough for Apple. For now, in iOS 17, Apple also provides the option to use a different search engine only in private browsing mode.

It's hard not to see this as a comment from Google, even though it remains the default search engine for the iPhone.

If you have concerns about Google searches when using private browsing, here's what you can do to set up an alternative.

You can install another search engine for private browsing

Set up an alternative search engine

  1. Open Settings
  2. Scroll down and tap Safari
  3. Under the Search heading, click Private Search Engine
  4. Select Favorite

And that's it, now you will automatically switch any search to your preferred search engine while you are in private browsing mode.

Here you can also set your search preference for regular browsing. And you have the option to do so that private search is the same as normal search.

Actually this is the default setting. But if you want to change the search engine — for private or regular browsing — then your choice is:

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Ecosia

Ecosia is perhaps the least familiar option on the list. It is a search engine based in Berlin with a strong focus on privacy.

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