DuckDuckGo app for Android ships with Tor integration now

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 3, 2013
Updated • Oct 3, 2013
Apps, Google Android

If you are using the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, you have probably installed the official application of the search engine on your phone or tablet as well to make use of the very same features that make it a great alternative to the big dogs Google and Bing.

DuckDuckGo promises that it wont track users, won't personalize search results, and enables users to search the web anonymously.

The Android application, DuckDuckGo Search & Stories, offers the same feature set as the web-based version. You can use it to search on DuckDuckGo, and use all the features that makes the search engine special. This includes the !bang syntax, all privacy protections, and also zero-click information about select search phrases that are displayed right on top of the regular results.

DuckDuckGo and Tor

duckduckgo tor orbot tor android

One of the recent changes in DuckDuckGo's application for Android is the integration of Tor in it. It depends on another application though, but will point you in the right direction once you enable Tor in the DuckDuckGo preferences.

To use the Tor network in DuckDuckGo, do the following:

  • Install the DuckDuckGo Search & Stories application on your Android device. It is compatible with all Android versions from 2.2 onwards.
  • Tap on the menu button and select settings from the menu that opens up.
  • Scroll down on the settings page until you find TOR listed there.
  • Tap on Enable Tor to activate the integration.
  • A prompt is displayed that informs you that you need to install the free Android application Orbot for that.
  • If you select yes you are taken to Google Play where you can install the app.

When you open the DuckDuckGo application from now on, it will check if Orbot is running, and if it is not, ask you if you want to start it.

Note: If you enable Tor, you need Orbot to run. If it is not running, you won't get any connection to DuckDuckGo using the application.

You are probably wondering how you can tell that you are connected to the TOR network and that the DuckDuckGo application is making use of it as well.

Besides the connection error that you get when it is not running, you can install the free Orweb: Private Web Browser application to test that on your phone or tablet.

Just run the app after installation and you should get a confirmation that you are connected to the TOR network.


Support for the Tor network is certainly something that many DuckDuckGo users will appreciate. The integration itself works really well once you are past the setup. It may take one additional click to start a search, as you may need to start Orbot if it is not running.

You can configure Orbot to automatically start with the Android phone so that it is available right after that.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Anonymous said on June 22, 2015 at 4:17 am

    If you have to go to google play to get the duckduckgo app, then wouldntbthst as llow you to be tracked?

  2. weg43 said on October 5, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Hi; I am using DDG version 2.0.30. Again uninstalled and reinstalled DDG,same version and no sign of TOR .Installed Orbot and set to run at start to test,rebooted and with Orbot running still no sign of TOR in DDG settings. I also noted something android.apk downloaded too but as I have no idea where this was coming from I of course did not attempt to install it. Think I’ll give this a pass with this particular phone and try it out on an old “Swedish Snow” rooted phone later.
    Thanks for your response and also for an excellent and most informative blog, Regards, weg43.

    1. weg43 said on October 5, 2013 at 3:17 am

      P.S. I also find it strange having out of interest just re-downloaded DDG app from GPlay that the version available here in UK dated 1st October remains 2.0.30 and yet you have version 2.1 and perhaps this is the “root” of my problem, anyhow, thanks again.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

        Updates are usually rolled out over a longer period of time. Do not ask me why the store is not updated at once with the latest version though.

  3. weg43 said on October 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Hi,I followed your instructions on LG nexus 4 and was unable to see any reference to TOR on Duck Duck settings even though I also installed Orbot and Orweb. My phone is NOT rooted and so I assume this appears to work only with a rooted phone?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      I have tested this on an unrooted Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Maybe the update to the new DDG app is still rolling out? The version I used is 2.1

      1. weg43 said on October 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        Hi again. Just reinstalled DDG on my Google Nex 4 Android Version 4.3 and still no sign of TOR or mention of installing Orbot. When I then install Orbot and go through configuration it says “your phone is not rooted” also no super user permissions!

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        Which version of DuckDuckgo are you running? You can check in the application manager in settings.

        I can only say once again that my phone is not rooted, and that Orbot worked just fine when I launched it from the DuckDuckGo app. I did not have to configure anything.

        The message that you receive is probably because it can be configured to proxy all Internet traffic, which requires root.

  4. Paul(us) said on October 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, Just what the doctor ordered. :-)

  5. Bill said on October 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I assume you also have to install Tor on the cellphone

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Only the two apps that I have mentioned.

  6. Maou said on October 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    First time acessing ghacks on mobile device and I must say it’s very good.

  7. ReX said on October 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Just a silly detail, it’s actually “Tor” and not “TOR”, since it was renamed from “The Onion Router” to just “Tor Project”.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Corrected it, thanks.

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