Can't get Private TOR windows to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google for searches

I have Duck Duck Go set up as the default search engine in Settings, but in a Private TOR window a URL line search always defaults to Google – which refuses to execute 90% or more of my searches, forcing me go to another window to rerun the search.

How do I make Duck Duck Go the default search engine in a Private TOR window, just as it is in all other windows)?

Thanks. Replies appreciated.

Mac OS Mojave
Brave Release (“up to date”)

The below implies that the default search engine should function in the same way in Private TOR windows as in other window types.

My default search engine in Settings is Duck Duck Go.

Why then when in a TOR window does a URL line search default to Google?


► This is an example of what I see when I run a search from the URL line in a Private TOR window/tab (note that the search is executed by Google):

[quote on]

About this page

Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. This page checks to see if it’s really you sending the requests, and not a robot. Why did this happen?

IP address:
Time: 2020-04-07T06:10:51Z

[quote off]

► Here is my search engine setting:

Would appreciate some feedback about this from Brave Team. @Mattches


That’s interesting – for me, it seems that I’m only able to search DDG when in a Tor window, regardless of whether or not I have it selected as the Search engine used in the address bar or if it or anything else is set as my Default search engine.
When you open a Window with tor and start typing in the address bar, does it say [your search term] - search with duckduckgo, like this?

@Mattches Thanks. No, it says Google.


And yet Duck Duck Go is unambiguously shown as my selected default search engine in Settings.

One positive result (the only one) is seeing just how many searches Google refuses to execute in a Private TOR tab/window. Stunning.

Can you try going to Settings --> Search engines --> Manage search engines --> Defaults and set your Default value to DDG, just for testing? I’m curious to see whether or not that makes a difference.

@Mattches Thanks. The only option from the hamburger menu on the far right for DDG is ‘Edit’ – i.e., no ‘set as default’ option displays. Looking at the other search engines in the list, I do see the ‘set as default’ option, so apparently DDG is already recognized as the default.

Though I missed it before, DDG is clearly the default as shown in the left column.

So though it’s ‘seen’ as the default, it’s not the search engine that gets used when a search is run.

Assume it must have something to do with TOR, because DDG does default for searches in normal tabs/windows and in regular (non-TOR) Private tabs/windows.


Can you try changing your defaults around and seeing if anything changes the search engine that’s used in Tor windows?

@Mattches If by “defaults” do you meant making other ‘search engines’ the default, I’ve just tried Qwant, Bing & Startpage (in that order).

In each case, when I entered anything in the address bar in a Private TOR window, Google still takes over. (I assumed that the search engine changes, like all Settings afaik, are dynamic.)

I did notice this, however: My last default selection had been Startpage. Though that made no difference in a Private TOR window (i.e., Google still defaulted), when I entered text in the address bar of a standard webpage, the search defaulted to Qwant, which had been the first of the three other search engines I had tried.

UPDATE (a few minutes later):

Now, with no additional changes made to the default, the regular webpages and standard Private windows are defaulting to Startpage (not Qwant). Private TOR windows are still choosing Google.

Can you try going to Menu --> Create new profile and testing the search engines in the same way you’re doing now? I’m wondering if its a browser issue or an issue with your profile data for some reason.

@Mattches With DDG as default search engine, new profile is retaining DDG for Private with TOR address bar searches but selecting Qwant for standard and Private windows searches.

So completely different behavior than with existing (original) profile.

I also noticed that when in a Private with TOR window the Profiles dropdown does not display either profile as the ‘selected’ one, whereas Profile #2 is check-marked in standard and Private windows.


I’ve reached out to our Tor team for more information on how the browser determines the search engine used in Tor. Appreciate your patience.

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@Mattches While waiting for follow-up on this, is there a way I can troubleshoot my own Profile?

I can’t understand why the ‘default search engine’ behavior would be different in the new Profile compared to the original.

My only ‘interaction’ with that feature (in either Profile) has been to select or change the default.

I think I might have an answer for you, but first, can you tell me what locale you’re in? IIRC you live in the US but I could be wrong and don’t want to assume.

@Mattches Yes, USA. East Coast (currently).

What I believe may have happened is that a while back, you downloaded the browser when Tor had it’s own settings page. By default, tor windows would use DDG as the search engine, unless changed by configuring the Default Search in tor window settings.

However, we’ve sense removed that settings page – but, it seems that if you had left DDG as the default search before the change, the [tor] browser is now stuck in that state. This is why when you use a new browser profile, tor window doesn’t default to DDG.

We have considered adding a toggle/setting for this in the future but I don’t have a lot of information on that at this time.

Does this make sense?

Does this make sense?

@Mattches Thanks but unless I’m misunderstanding, it actually doesn’t seem to make sense.

If DDG was stuck in the original profile as the default, one would expect it to remain as the default in that profile. But Google is the search engine that’s being chosen in that profile.

In the new profile Qwant is the default browser in regular and Private windows – I had never used another profile than the original before – and DDG is the default search engine in Private w- TOR windows.

So my conclusion is that something is ‘off’ in the original profile that’s preventing DDG from being recognized as the selected default browser for that profile.

Something also seems to be ‘off’ in the new profile, because afaik DDG, not Qwant, should be the ‘factory’ default search engine in a new profile.

Moreover, in both profiles the search engine that’s defaulting in Private w- TOR windows is not the same one that’s defaulting in regular and Private windows. That’s not supposed to happen, I assume.

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Is there any chance you have your OS preferences set to a French locale? Because the default search provider w/France local is Qwant.

As for your DDG vs Google issue – I’m not sure what’s going on there, to be honest. It may be a bug, but I can’t seem to reproduce it. I’ll ask around some more to see if I can get fresh eyes on it.


Is there any chance you have your OS preferences set to a French locale?

Not unless that can happen without my doing anything to make it happen. :wink:

Which preference(s) would be responsible? I’ll check what’s there and report back.

It seems relevant that DDG defaults normally in Profile 2 (in a Private TOR window), since that would seem to indicate that the issue with it not happening in Profile 1 is within Brave, not the OS, wouldn’t it?

But even then, what explains why DDG doesn’t also default in the non-TOR windows in Profile 2?
Isn’t the default search engine setting supposed to be global – i.e., affect all three window types?

I’ll ask around some more to see if I can get fresh eyes on it.


@Mattches How does one delete a Profile?

I’d like to create one or two more just to see how they handle the default search engine both at the outset and after I change the default in Settings – but I haven’t seen a way to remove a profile, which I’ll want to do after testing.