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My Search Engine Is Perhaps My Favourite Tech Service

There’s a lot of talk about Google Search these days — and how AI is affecting the search quality. Parts of the algorithm even leaked recently, showing that they’ve actively lied to the public. And the general discussions surrounding whether Google is getting worse, has been going on for way longer. But I’ve sidestepped this whole thing…

A while ago, in my quest to use less stuff from the largest tech companies (and due to privacy concerns), I used DuckDuckGo for over a year. But while I liked the design, I found myself having to type !g, and go to Google, to find what I was looking for.

Then I tried Neeva (RIP). And I liked that I didn’t have to scroll past ads, but the Norwegian results were terrible.

However, for the last two years, I’ve used Kagi Search — and ever since, it’s been one of my absolute favourite tech products. And yesterday they published a blog post called What is next for Kagi?, which I liked, and that spurred this post.** 

I like being the customer

Kagi costs money: $5/month for 300 searches, and $10/month for unlimited. (And with both a Duo and Family plan available.) I know that many will think, “Paying for a search engine??” — but in my opinion, paying makes perfect sense. I love simple incentive structures — and with Kagi, it’s as uncomplicated as: They have to give me results that are so good that I’ll keep paying for them.

They don’t have to also keep advertisers or publishers happy — only me. The two most important consequences of this:

  1. There are no ads, and no tracking.
  2. I’m in control of my search experience. If I want to, I can Block, Lower, Raise or Pin websites, to alter my search results. 1 There’s also different Lenses that can be used to temporarily alter them (you can also make your own), and there’s also a bunch of customisability in the settings.

Contrary to when I used DDG, I almost always find what I’m looking for — and if I don’t, I don’t find it on Google either.

Other things I like

A small player

From their About page:

Kagi has been bootstrapped by the founder from 2018 to 2023. In 2023, Kagi raised $670K from Kagi users in its first external fundraise, followed by $1.88M raised in 2024, again from our users, bringing the number of users-investors to 93.

(…)

In the early 2024, Kagi became a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC).

And in general, I like that they’re trying something that challenges ad-tech’s stranglehold on the web and tech behemoths. They also have a cool Small Web initiative. 2

Works everywhere

It’s straightforward to set Kagi as the default search engine in most browsers — either natively, or through the Kagi extension. However, in Safari, your only choices are Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Ecosia. 3 And on top of this, they make it hard (but not impossible) for other engines to make it happen through extensions. For the two years I’ve used Kagi, Safari has been my default browser on iOS for most of it, and on Mac for some of it.

The Safari experience is like this:

The engine you set as your default in the settings (DuckDuckGo in my case) is the one powering the search suggestions you get while you type. But when you hit Search, you automatically (and quickly) get re-directed to the result on Kagi.

So, even though Safari is your default, that’s not a reason not to give Kagi a try — even though it’s slightly more seamless in other browsers. The team behind Kagi also makes a WebKit browser themselves, called Orion, which I can recommend trying out!

The extensions in other browsers also have some extra features — which brings me to my next point:

Measured take on AI

Many more details in their blog post Kagi’s Approach to AI in Search, and also here — but as a user (who’s sceptical to several aspects of AI), I like that it’s not a big part of their selling point, and that it’s not in-your-face. The Firefox and Chrome extension has some summarising features, and it does have a “Quick Answer” feature in the search results. By default, this is just a tiny button — and if you’d like to, you can turn on an option that will expand it if you end your search term with a question mark.

But everything is easy to ignore and/or turn off. However, I do get that, to some, having anything to do with AI is a deal-breaker.

Customisability

Kagi uses DuckDuckGo’s search bangs — so if you type Beatenberg !yt it searches for that term on YouTube. However, you can also add your own, and designate some bangs where you don’t need the exclamation mark. So for me, searching Oslo w or Oslo wn searches for Oslo on the English or Norwegian Wikipedia. This also syncs to wherever you’re searching, be it kagi.com or the address bar on your phone.

I’ve already mentioned lenses and page ranks — but:

Here are some more ways you can customise your results:

  • The number of details in your search suggestions, or if you want to turn them off.
  • The snippet length under the results.
  • Which of the following you want included:
    • Quick Answer (the aforementioned AI feature)
    • Inline Images
    • Inline Videos
    • Inline News
    • Inline Maps
    • Inline Discussions
    • Public Records
    • Summary Box
    • Related Searches
    • “Interesting Finds” (whatever that is 🤷🏻‍♂️)
    • Listicles widget
    • Shopping widget
    • Podcasts widget
    • Quick Peek widget
    • Wikipedia widget
  • You can also change the entire CSS!

Try it yourself!

I strongly recommend giving it a go. And here’s where I perhaps would give an affiliate link — but Kagi doesn’t believe in those, as they want every recommendation of their service to be “pure”. So here’s a regular link!

I think it’s well worth the money — both for the service itself, and to support a company that seems to want something good for the web for a change…


  1. More Reddit and Wikipedia, and less Pinterest and Quora for me, please. ↩︎

  2. One thing Kagi has been criticised for, is using the Brave API as part of their search indexing. More info on that here. I agree with the criticism - but I still think Kagi, in net, is a force for good on the web. ↩︎

  3. Shout-out to Mojeek, who I’d also like to see on this list, and that also seems like they’re doing good stuff. ↩︎