DarkDuckGo

3 minute read Published

Improve your search privacy on DuckDuckGo using custom URL parameters.

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine since it was introduced to me by a colleague in Chicago. This was before I was able to close my Google account but some time after losing hundreds of photos leaving Facebook. And though I was aware DuckDuckGo maintains a hidden service for Tor users it wasn’t until recently I felt confident enough with my OS security to safely use it.

Rather than just bookmarking and using the DDG onion site, however, I decided to leverage some of the nifty URL params they’ve made available. Following is a quick rundown of the URL params I’m using to customize my DDG search experience for use with Tor. In After Dark fashion I’ve decided to name them “DarkDuckGo”.

Tip: Not able to access the onion link from your current browser? Try Tor Browser for Android (Alpha) available for download using an anonymous Google account via Aurora Store. Android required. Accept no immitations.

Here’s are my current URL params and what I understand they do:

Param Setting Description
kp -2 Disables safe search (causes pornography in image search).
kn 1 Opens a new browsing context (tab/window) for each search result clicked so the sites you’re visiting (75% of which are tracking you, by the way) will be clueless as to how you got there.
kaf 1 Enables full URL display so you know what you’re clicking on.
kd -1 Disables redirects so you know where you’re actually headed.
kh 1 Disables results for HTTP-only sites (prevents ISPs like Telkomsel in Indonesia from injecting ads on unencrypted sites).1
kg p Prevents search queries from appearing in the URL address bar (obfuscates search queries from ISPs and DNS servers, et cetera).
k5 2 Plays videos in a new window. Especially handy if you’re on Android and using NewPipe as an ad-free YouTube front-end.
ko -1 Disables search result header UI cruft.
k1 -1 Disable ads in search results (sometimes the first search result).
kam osm Use OpenStreetMaps for map results.
kae t Skin search results using the “Terminal” color palette.
k7 000000 Adjust hexadecimal color of search results background to black.

Combining all parameters – excluding ad disablement – results in the following otherwise unintelligible URL I use to search the Web more privately:

3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/?kp=-2&kn=1&kaf=1&kd=-1&kh=1&kg=p&k5=2&ko-1&kam=osm&kae=t&k7=000000

In Tor Browser the result looks like the following:

Browser Window
DuckDuckGo hidden service with URL params.

If you’re not using Tor Browser you can still use the params with the regular search site or even start.duckduckgo.com. And that’s how you DarkDuckGo.


  1. Proof of ad injections via browser hijacking available upon request.