The Differences Between Browsers and Search Engines

Sander van Hezik Dec 15, 2021 12:45:00 AM

A clear explanation of what a browser and a search engine are.

Online terminology can be confusing at times. The early internet was just for people who were very technical, which means a lot of the words and acronyms that people still use are very technical. But in our contemporary time, everyone is online - and not everyone has an engineering background.

So it's completely normal to be confused about the precise definitions of certain internet terminologies. Today we're going to clear one thing up for you: The difference between a browser and a search engine.

What is a browser?

A browser is a piece of software installed on your computer, smartphone, or other device. It's how you access websites on the internet. Popular browsers include Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, or private browsers like Avast Secure Browser.

In order to access websites, you open your browser and then type in the URL or web address. So, for example, if you wanted to access the Avast site, you would open Avast Secure Browser and type "" or "" into the bar at the top of your browser. Once you type that address in, your device (computer, smartphone, tablet) connects to the Domain Name Server (DNS) via the internet, translates your letters into ones and zeros that the computer can read, and then sends you to the site you're trying to access.

What is a search engine?

A search engine is also a software program, but instead of living on your computer, it lives on the servers of whoever owns it. So, for example, Google Search lives on Alphabet servers, while Bing lives on Microsoft servers. You access search engines via websites.

The purpose of a search engine is to aid you in accessing websites via keywords that you type into them. They help you navigate the internet and give you access to websites that you might not know the full URL of.

For example, you might be looking for a specific piece of information, but you don't know who has written about it. You can type that specific piece of information into a search engine and the search engine will bring back all of the websites that deal with that specific topic.

Some common search engines are Google and Bing, or privacy-first search engines like  OneSearch, StartPage, and DuckDuckGo. All of which are available in your Avast Secure Browser, plus you can also add additional search engines to the browser.

How do they relate to each other?

Because search engines are accessed on websites, we most commonly access them via our browsers.

One of the reasons some people aren't sure about the difference between the two is because some browsers allow you to search for topics directly from the URL bar of the browser. Avast Secure Browser, for example, lets users search directly from the bar - you no longer have to go to or to use a search engine. That type of seamless integration makes utilizing integrated search engines much more convenient, but understandably can also make the definition of roles between search engines and browsers blurrier than it used to be.

In sum, browsers give you access to the entire internet via websites. A search engine is a piece of software that you can access via one of those websites. Using these two tools together is an essential part of the online experience and will let you find the things you are looking for.

--> -->