How to Google With a Bang!
I hopped on the DuckDuckGo (DDG) hype train some years ago. It lasted for about 5 months. Unfortunately, I can’t help to be constantly reminded how good Google search is. An anecdote probably for another day.
Though DDG did not become my default search engine, there’s one feature that changes how I look at browsers and search engines’ user experience (UX) forever — DuckDuckGo Bang.
Trust me, people can go on quite a bit about the Bang (
!) syntax in DDG.
If you use Chrome, you can craft a similar UX as DDG Bang syntax. Go to
chrome://settings/searchEngines and add new search engines under “Site Search”.
In DDG, Bang is nice as a quick shortcut that takes you to search results of other sites.
For example, if I enter
!r m1 macbook review on DDG’s search, it takes me directly to Reddit search at
It's a great way to cut through the noise and find the information that we need.
Google was my first stop
Whenever I had to research anything, I’d just simply Google it without any fancy search operators. Anything from gadget reviews to technical searches like “how to remove duplicates in a list in python”.
But as of late, I find myself increasingly appending
site:stackoverflow.com, etc. to my search query to get more refined and meaningful results.
Doing so provides a relatively unbiased set of results that isn’t tied to my browsing habit. Getting to reviews that are hopefully written by actual users.
How to Google With a Bang
If you use Chrome, you can craft a similar UX as DDG Bang syntax. There’s no need to install any extensions. It’s available natively on your Chrome browser.
Here's an example:
- Go to
chrome://settings/searchEnginesand add new search engines under “Site Search”.
- Edit the search engine accordingly.
- The “Search engine” field is a way to name your “Shortcut”, it can be anything.
- Note that the example above uses the Google search engine.
- Alternatively, if you want to use the site’s search engine, change the “URL with %s in place of query” to the site’s search query. E.g.
https://www.reddit.com/search?q=%sto search using Reddit’s search instead.
- You can even prepend
site:reddit.com/r/<subreddit>for a more refined search.
Example for appending “site:reddit.com” when prefixing “!r” shortcut to your search term
!rfor reddit.com — product reviews and community-specific information.
!sofor stackoverflow.com — software engineering, programming-related topics.
!ghfor github.com — libraries or framework-specific GitHub issues (e.g. bugs) and workarounds. This has been incredibly useful to me.
!hnfor hackernews.com — I use this to look for discussions or anecdotes on specific topics.
!ytfor youtube.com — quicker (1-step) video search on YouTube.
The possibilities are endless. Refer to duckduckgo.com/bangs for more ideas.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work for Firefox users. Instead, see how to assign shortcuts to search engines.
Over the years, the quality of the top search results from Google has deteriorated:
- The first page is often filled with basic information that barely scratches the surface.
- When it comes to software engineering or programming-related topics, it’s the same problem. Outside of Stack Overflow, most articles are written to appeal to a broad audience.
- SEO (page ranking) has become increasingly gamified. It probably killed all kinds of real reviews. That’s why people have been gradually appending
site:reddit.comto their Google searches because Reddit (and HN) is one of the few places online you can read actual human thoughts.
I know I am not the only one that feels this way. A “normal” Google search now does not yield satisfactory results anymore.
Having said that, Google search is still very much superior in my opinion — mostly because of Google Maps.
It's funny how we often take for granted the power of search engines, and how we drown in the sea of information that's available to us today.