Generally, Firefox uses the default search engine in both normal and private browsing modes. But like Vivaldi, Mozilla is now planning to offer a separate search engine for Private browsing in the Firefox browser. What this means is, the feature when available, users can able to choose one from a list of engines available and make it as default private search engine.
For example, if you now look at the Vivaldi browser, the company partnered with DuckDuckGo to use their engine as default in private windows and the user can able to change that and use the desired engine from options available in Search settings.
Similarly, Firefox provides a UI in Settings with a checkbox under “Default Search Engine” to select and set a default search engine for Private searches.
Using a separate search engine for Private browsing in Firefox
The new UI to choose a private search engine will be available after enabling the following preference in about:config:
Firefox menu > Options > Search > Use this search engine in private windows.
You can choose from Google, Bing, Amazon.com, DuckDuckGo, and Wikipedia. You can follow the feature progress here.
Note: If you want to use the default engine that you use in regular browsing in private mode as well, check “Use this search engine in private windows”.
Mozilla is looking to ensure the Private browsing search engine works in the address bar, search bar, and from the context menu for the selected text.
The organization is committed to making the private engine feature available to users in the release channel, not just beta/developer/Nightly, once it completes.
As of now, Mozilla hasn’t decided which to use as a default search provider in incognito mode, we need to wait and see to know, will that choice be left to users or will the company makes a new deal with their search partners.
As you now, Mozilla uses Google as a default search engine in the Firefox browser in most countries and most of the revenue to the organization comes from the search deal.
The company is exploring to launch other premium services/products such as Firefox Private Network to increase its revenue.
UPDATE September 27, 2020: After a year, Mozilla hasn’t yet enabled UI to choose different search engines for Private browsing mode in Firefox. The company has no plans to do that right now, until then toggle the pref mentioned above to achieve that.
If Mozilla provides other options for Searching (other than Google) in Private browsing, will you use the popular search engine or a privacy-focused DDG or Bing? Let us know in the comments below.