Time to ditch Google for good?


When I first thought about removing Google Search from my computing experience years ago, it seemed like a nightmare scenario. How would I be certain that the alternatives I picked would provide the same results as Google Search? That they would be just as reliable?

It took a while until I started using Google Search alternatives. I didn’t rip off the bandaid in one smooth motion. I first replaced Google Search with DuckDuckGo on iPhone. A while later, I did the same thing on Mac. At first, I’d use Google Search and DuckDuckGo in parallel.

Then AI products like ChatGPT and Perplexity arrived, and they made it even easier to wean myself off of Google Search.

Little did I know my Google Search independence would pay off so soon. Google rolled out a Google Search upgrade after I/O 2024 that not many people are thrilled about. AI Overviews are now part of the default Google Search experience. There are ways to get back to a traditional Search experience. And then there’s the “nuclear” solution: Eliminating Google Search from your browsing habits.

I’m here to tell you that whatever avenue you choose will work great for you, even if removing Google Search from your usual web browsing behavior sounds scary.

There’s no real issue with offering AI results in Google Search. But it should be our choice. Google made it mandatory after I/O, and that angered many people.

Rather than ditching Google Search, there are ways to fix the AI Overview problem that Google created. First, you can use Google’s own fix. We’ve shown you how to use Google Search with the new Web filter that shows only text-based links in search results.

AI Overviews in Google Search aren't for everyone
AI Overviews in Google Search aren’t for everyone. Image source: Google Inc.

The other solution is using a Chrome extension to block Google AI Overviews in Search. The irony is strong with this one, as Chrome is a Google product whose main task is to ensure Google Search has a prominent placement on your computers.

If Google Search is one of the apps you rely on to get things done but you hate AI results, these are the fixes you can apply right now. There’s no guarantee they’ll work forever, but they will fix your problems for now. Hopefully, Google will hear all the negative feedback and fix the problem they created.

Google Search alternatives

But I will tell you that the internet is still usable if you decide to ditch Google Search. You’ll still find the stuff you’re looking for whether you use AI products or not. My go-to search engine is DuckDuckGo, but you can use Bing and other alternatives. DuckDuckGo also works with Bing, and my ChatGPT searches also run through Bing.

In addition to ChatGPT, I use Perplexity to search the web when conducting conversations with AI about topics that require that particular back-and-forth experience.

Therefore, my googling consists of a combination of AI and traditional search, depending on what I need. The key detail here is that I’m in charge of using AI.

I’ll also say that I use plenty of other Google products. It feels like I’m stealing them. Technically, Google apps are free of use, but because I don’t use Google Search as much, I’m not “paying” for them in full, as I’m not as exposed to Google’s big ad-based money-making system.

Perplexity's widget on an Android phone.
Perplexity’s widget on an Android phone. Image source: Perplexity AI

Finally, I’ll note that I’m not completely off Google Search. For example, I use Google Maps to search for places and businesses, and that’s a Google Search experience.

Also, I might use Google Search in incognito mode if I feel like I’m not finding something I normally would. Another alternative would be Microsoft’s server crashing and taking down Bing, DuckDuckGo, ChatGPT search, and everything else that might run there.

That is, I’m not completely off Google Search. But its presence is reduced to such a degree that AI Overviews aren’t a problem. On that note, I’ll also say that I haven’t seen AI Overviews in Europe yet. Therefore, I’m already somewhat shielded from them. But they’ll be rolling out everywhere before the end of the year.

Also, AI Overviews will get ads, which might further complicate one’s relationship with Google Search.

What I’m getting is that whatever happens with Google’s AI in Search will have a minimal impact on my web search experience now that I’ve ditched Google Search. And I don’t miss it at all.



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