What’s the difference between search engines and browsers?

Even experienced computers users who spend time online everyday can have trouble telling the difference between a browser and a search engine.  It can get extremely confusing when the search engine and browser have the same “name” like Google and Google Chrome.

Knowing the fundamental differences between the two will not only impress your friends, but also make it a lot easier when someone is trying to walk you thru how to do something on the internet or what you are doing to get specific search results.


Browsers are the programs on your computer that let you “browse” the internet, as their name implies.  Not all browsers are created equal though.  Some are fast, some are slow, some have a lot of bugs or glitches and some have downloadable add-ons that can make your online experience easier and more efficient.  The top four browsers that 95% of people use are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari.  Below is a picture of the different icons you’ll see on your computer.  If you see one of these on your computer, you’ll know it is an internet browser.  There is no limit on the number of different browsers you can have on your computer, although generally, most people will only have one or two.


Search Engines

Search engines are different websites on the internet that let you search for information.  The three most used search engines are Google, Bing and Yahoo.  Each search engine has their own algorithm to determine what websites show up in organic search results.

The confusion starts when people cannot differentiate between the two.  Someone will open up their Google Chrome browsers and just assume that they are on “google”.  Some even assume that every search bar they see is Google.  This is where you need to be careful.  You can actually set which search engine to use in the Chrome URL/Search Bar by right clicking it and hitting “edit search engine”

edit search engine

I hope this clears up some confusion that many have.  Knowing the difference between the two will make you a more savvy tech user.

By Tony Fong

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