Apps we recommend:
These are just our personal favorites. For other opinions, please see Other Privacy Recommendations below.
The first step for many in de-googling is to simply stop using google. Below are some alternatives:
- Our own Searx meta-search engine. See the link for more details.
- DuckDuckGo is very popular, and bases their results largely on Bing
- Mojeek is unlike many other search engines in that they have their own crawler. This means you aren’t relying on results scraped from Google or Bing.
- Metager is a privacy-focused meta-search engine based in Germany.
Search engines we would not recommend: startpage.com (owned by an ad company), Yandex (too many results in Russian)
For web browsers the choices are more limited.
- If you are looking for a browser which requires minimal tweaking we recommend Brave. This browser is based on Chromium, which is the open-source version of Chrome. It offers ad blocking, tracking protection, and many other useful features by default. Plus you can earn BAT tokens for (voluntarily) watching ads.
- For a greater degree of customization we recommend Firefox. We especially like the Fennec version of Firefox, which is available via F-Droid. This version improves tracking protection and some other useful features. If you use Firefox, “hardening” is a must. This involves various add-ons and configuration tweaks. There are various guides available, but we like the one at privacytools.io.
- The DuckDuckGo browser is also good, although currently it is only available for mobile devices. They have a desktop version coming soon.
- The Tor browser uses the Tor network to anonymize your browsing, and provides strong protections against tracking.
- If you want the protection of the Tor browser but without having to use the Tor network, check out the Mullvad browser.
- Vivaldi is also a Chromium-based browser which implements ad blocking and tracking protection, along with a high degree of customization.
- For a minimalist user interface there is Bromite, also based on Chromium.
Your choice of email provider may depend on which features you prefer, the user interface, and other personal preferences. Many of the providers below offer a basic account for free, but for features like increased storage, more messages per month, or more aliases you often have to pay (well worth it in our opinion).
Unfortunately we can no longer recommend Tutanota due to their anti-free speech stance.
For the ultimate in privacy you could purchase a domain and run your own mail server.
Text messages (SMS) are ludicrously insecure. Any messaging app should have end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and should be avoided at all costs. Telegram offers encryption as an option, but it is not enable by default, and not available at all for group chats.
- Signal is the most popular of E2EE messaging apps. However it does require a phone number to register, and will also reveal your phone number to anyone you message. However it is easy to use and even has a desktop version.
- Session has emerged as the “best of the rest” after Signal. Arguably more secure/private, but less popular
- Briar has also grown in popularity recently
Other apps we have not tried, but offer privacy:
We no longer recommend Wickr due to their acquisition by Amazon. Converso is trash.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an essential tool to prevent your ISP from spying on your internet traffic, to keep public wifi networks from monitoring your traffic when away from home, and to hide your location from websites. There are many VPNs available these days. The most important criteria is not logging your activity. Many VPNs claim they do not keep logs, but they have data caps. If they have a cap, they are keeping a log of how much data you use, and therefore logging your traffic. You should also look for a VPN which does not require an address, phone number, or ideally even a name or email address. Pay with either cryptocurrency (preferably Monero) or a debit card from privacy.com.
Although we like Proton services, in the interest of avoiding centralization if you are using ProtonMail, you should probably not use ProtonVPN (and vice versa).
GPS / Navigation:
There are several good apps which provide GPS/navigation while on the go. Unlike google maps, most allow maps to be downloaded and used offline in case you are visiting a region with spotty coverage.
- Magic Earth has crowd-sourced traffic info and public transit as well. It’s our favorite, although that’s mostly a preference.
- OSMAnd+ uses open source maps. Note that you can download the “non-free” version from F-droid for free
- GMapsWV provides an anonymous interface to google maps. It does not share any location information with google, thus no navigation. However you can use it for maps, streetview, and business information.
Not recommended: Waze (owned by google)
Other Privacy Resources:
Here are several other sites which feature privacy-oriented apps/software and techniques: