Disconnect Private Search for Windows and MacOS - Frequently asked questions

Here are the questions we get asked most. If you have a question that’s not answered below, please email us.

What is Disconnect Search?

Disconnect Search is the easiest way to search privately on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other popular search engines. We designed it for people who like using popular search engines but who want more control over who has access to what they search for.

Why do I need Disconnect Search?

There’s not many things more personal than what you search for online. But your typical searches are anything but private.

Most of the popular search engines save your search queries and connect them to your real name, your email address, or your IP address. These companies keep this information for months, sometimes years. In addition, when you click a search result link, the website usually receives the search terms you used, which can then be saved by that website as well. Finally, your ISP may be able to access your search queries and connect them to your account.

You need Disconnect Search if you want to prevent all this data logging and invisible tracking by thousands of companies.

How does Disconnect Search work?

Disconnect Private Search protects your privacy in four ways:

1. Search queries are routed through Disconnect’s servers, which makes the queries look like they’re coming from Disconnect instead of your computer.

2. Search engines are prevented from passing keywords to the sites you visit from search results pages.

3. All queries are encrypted, which prevents your ISP and eavesdroppers in your network from seeing them.

4. Disconnect doesn’t log any keywords, personal information, or IP addresses.

How do I use Disconnect Private Search?

You can either go to https://search.disconnect.me and type in your query, or you can install our Disconnect Private Search extension. The extension gives you some additional ways to search privately:

  1. 1. You can search from the search box in the extension interface.
  2. 2. You can search privately from your browser’s address bar by checking “Search from your address bar”
  3. 3. You can search privately on search engine websites by checking “Search from search engine websites”. Please note: this feature is currently only available on Chrome and Firefox.

Do you keep search query logs?

No, we do not log, save, or store your search queries, your IP address, or any other information that could be associated with you.

Will my search results be different?

Most results will be identical to searching without Disconnect Search, though some results will be different. For example, if you search for a local restaurant or store, the search engine won't know your location so it won't be able to geographically target the results. Sponsored links (otherwise known as advertisements) might also be different, since the search engine will not be able to target them based on your past browsing behavior or other information they know about you.

How is Disconnect Private Search different from the privacy mode in my browser?

Many of the popular browsers today have privacy” modes. Chrome has “Incognito”, Firefox and Opera have “Private Windows” and Internet Explorer has “InPrivate Browsing”. While each is slightly different, they all do essentially the same thing: automatically delete your browsing and search history from your browser when you close the browser. However, unlike Disconnect, they do not do anything to prevent your search queries from being affiliated with your personal profile or shared with web sites and ISPs.

If I want to turn Disconnect Private Search off and search "normally", how do I do that?

On Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, make sure that "Search from the address bar" and "Search from search engine websites" are unchecked, and then search as you always have, either through the address box in your browser, the search box in your browser, or at the search engine's web site.

On Internet Explorer, you’ll need to select a different default search provider. On the Internet Explorer menu bar, click Tools > Manage Add ons > Search Providers and choose another search engine.

If I click on a search engine result, is that private too?

Yes, we prevent the search engine from sending your search query to the web site you are visiting. However, as soon as you reach the site you are visiting, your activities are not being kept private by Disconnect Private Search.

How does Disconnect Private Search prevent my ISP from seeing my search queries?

Some search engines don’t encrypt your search queries, which means that your ISP can access them and tie them to your account. When you use Disconnect Search, your search queries are encrypted, so your ISP cannot see them or associate them with your account.

Does Disconnect Private Search prevent the US government from seeing what I search for?

You should not assume that any company or organization can prevent the US government from accessing your search queries, or anything else you do online. Disconnect Search focuses on preventing companies from accessing your searches.

However, Disconnect Search does reduce your digital footprint by offering the following protection:

First, Disconnect Search prevents search engines and websites from associating your queries with you or your computer. This makes it more difficult for search engines and other websites to provide this information to the US government.

Second, Disconnect Search queries are encrypted. This makes it harder for the US government to obtain your search queries from your ISP.

Third, we do not log or otherwise save your search queries. This makes it impossible for us to share your Disconnect Search queries with the US government without a valid court order that requires us to change our technology.

Finally, the US government may force us to begin logging the search queries of a particular user or group of users. If served with a court order that includes a non-disclosure provision, we may not be able to tell our users about this change for some period of time, possibly forever. And the US Government may also have other methods of monitoring your searches which Disconnect Search cannot prevent.

What browsers does Disconnect Private Search support?

Disconnect is available for Chrome (modern versions), Firefox (modern versions), Internet Explorer (9.0 and above; currently in private beta), Safari (5.1.4 and higher), and Opera (15.0 and higher).

Do I have to install Disconnect Private Search separately on each browser?

Yes.

I see the “Get Disconnect Search” button on your site, but nothing happens when I click. Why?

You may be on a browser that we do not support. Disconnect is available for Chrome (modern versions), Firefox (modern versions), Internet Explorer (9.0 and above; currently in private beta), and Safari (5.1.4 and higher).

How do I uninstall Disconnect Private Search?

First off, we hate to see you go! If you have a minute after following the uninstall instructions below, please tell us went wrong at support@disconnect.me. (We solve most problems within a few days, so maybe we can even get you to try Disconnect Search again.)

On Chrome, simply right click on the Disconnect Search icon and choose “Remove from Chrome”.

On Firefox, choose Tools/Add-ons/, locate Disconnect Search, and then click “Remove”

On Safari, open the Safari menu, choose the Preferences item, then click the Extensions tab. Uncheck the Enable box to disable or click the Uninstall button to uninstall.

On Internet Explorer, open your Windows Control Panel, click on Programs and Features, select Disconnect Private Search, and click uninstall.